Ask the Experts
My son is a junior in high school and I just found marijuana, whiskey bottles and unknown pills in his room. I called the police and will see my pediatrician to get drug testing. What else can I do?
You have correctly perceived that your son is in trouble, but I’d like to know more about why you reacted by calling the police and the pediatrician first. If your relationship with your son has been "very strained" to "non-existent," then I understand using agencies outside the family. If, however, this is a child with whom you felt you had a rapport, you jumped from the family structure to the community structure very quickly. Unless a child has been too difficult for the family to handle, it would be preferable for the parents to express their disappointment with their child and then to make (and activate) rules and consequences.
If your son has been so difficult that he is beyond your boundary-making ability, or he frightened and shocked you with the severity of his use, then you need to seek a professional treatment program for him. This should be a program that helps him work towards his recovery and helps you develop a stronger relationship with him.
In any case, you will need to practice the four parenting skills: Praise and reward your child for his successes; set firm rules and consequences; develop a good relationship with him that involves communication and trust; and monitor him closely for unsafe behaviors.
Alison Birnbaum is a Licensed Certified Social Worker who is a parenting expert in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. She has a private practice in New Canaan, CT.
CTCADA offers both adolescent intervention and treatment programs. Education, individual counseling, family therapy, group counseling and referral to other resources are all part of a comprehensive effort to prevent or intervene in youth alcohol and drug abuse. Call us at 254-690-4455!