What to Do When You Suspect Your Child Is Using Drugs

Sometimes you may suspect or discover that your child is using drugs. The earlier you respond, the more likely you can convince your child how to stop.

• Keep involved in your child’s life. It’s harder for a teen to hide a drug problem when parents and family members are connected to the teen and know most of what he or she is up to.

• Talk to your child as soon as you suspect drug use. Work through your emotions in advance so that you can remain calm. State clearly what you suspect (and why) and ask your child about it. Make it a discussion rather than an interrogation.

• Expect resistance. Whether kids are using or not, they’ll usually become upset when you name your suspicions. Be careful not to over interpret what their reaction means. A drug user can become upset that you discovered his or her secret, but a non-drug-user can put up resistance for you accusing him or her of drug use.

• Keep learning about what to say and do when your child is using drugs. Visit the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign for helpful information.

• Set firm boundaries about what you expect about drug use. Say that your home and car are drug-free zones. Say that you expect every family member to be drug free.

• Monitor your child closely. Just because you may have had one or two conversations about drug use, doesn’t mean that your child is changing his or her behavior. Keep tabs on what your child is doing. If rules are broken, enforce consequences.

• Seek professional help long before your child needs it. The sooner you and your child can get help, the easier it will be to solve a drug problem. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

• Continue to love your child even when you disagree with his or her behavior. Too often, parents pull away from kids when their kids act in inappropriate way. That gives your child the wrong message. Instead, be clear about how you want your child to act, enforce consequences, and keep reminding your child that you care deeply and want the best for him or her.