Parents, Teens, and Drugs
Frequently Asked Questions

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Our children are under siege. They are being subjected to a constant stream of negative messages about drugs.  Their world is teaching them that drug use is not only normal, but risk-free.  They are being taught that they can put illegal drugs into their bodies and suffer no apparent consequences.

Recent studies have shown that media's influence on children in regards to drug use phenomenal.  This studies found:

MUSIC- 63% of all Rap songs refer to illicit drugs in some manner.TELEVISION- TV shows and music videos constantly bombard our children with the idea that drugs are cool, drugs are fun, and drugs are harmless.ROLE MODELS- Rock Stars, Movie Actors, Models, and Professional Athletes are constantly being arrested for drug use, and because of their immense wealth, they suffer very little consequences for their actions.

All of these factors send the wrong message to our children about drug use, but they are not the greatest threat.  The greatest threat is Peer Pressure.  Children want to fit in, and they want acceptance from their classmates.  When they buy or use drugs for the first time, it is likely that they will get them from their friends.

The children were asked how difficult it would be to obtain drugs if they wanted some.  

More than 1 in 5 kids that have not used any drugs in the past year said heroin was easy or fairly easy to obtain.Of the children that admitted that they had used drugs in the last year, that number jumps to 1 in 4.These children are not getting drugs from strangers standing on street corners.  They are getting them from their friends at school.  

And they don't have to ask for drugs, because their friends are asking them.  

The percentages of children that said someone had approached them in the last 30 days and offered to sell them drugs.

Anywhere from 1 out of every 8, to 1 out of every 5 children has been approached by somebody selling drugs.  It doesn't really seem to matter whether they are male or female, where they live, or what ethnic group they belong to. The people that sell drugs are everywhere.    

So - if our kids are watching movies and TV shows that are telling them that drugs are OK, and their music is constantly referring to drugs, and their friends at school are offering them drugs, what effect is that having on them?

It is sad to say, but the result of all of this is that kids are using drugs earlier than ever before. The next statistic paints the darkest picture of all.  It shows the average age that kids start using particular drugs.

The average starting age for hard, addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin is only 14. And that is the AVERAGE. Many kids are starting at only 12 years old.

We know that these are some very scary statistics, but there is hope out there.  

[These figures came from the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) .]

We all hope that is doesn't happen to my child

If your children decide to experiment with illegal drugs, they will eventually find someone to supply them - regardless of where you live. That is a hard but all too often true fact that raises questions like:

  • Why would my child experiment with drugs?
  • How can I tell if my child is taking drugs?
  • At what age are children exposed to drugs?
  • How can I keep my child safe from drugs?
  • Where can I go to get help?

We hope to provide you with information to answer these questions and more.

Preventing the Problem

Parental Guidance

Start talking to your children at an early age about drugs and related issues. Give them a chance to participate in the discussions and find out what they already know about drugs (you may be surprised). Good communications patterns with your children will makes it much easier to deal with drug problems that may arise later.

Family Drug and Alcohol Policy

One plan many parents establish is to make a family drug and alcohol policy with their children. 

The policy should include:

  • Drug education
  • A statement of expectations 
  • A listing of specific restrictions if the policy is not followed 
  • Most of all, the potential for drug testing. 

The threat of drug testing is a risk that most children understand. It gives your child an acceptable "excuse" to say no and may take some peer pressure off of them to experiment.

Addressing the Problem

Home Control

If teens and preteens do use drugs, they often deny it to their parents.  This can lead to a multitude of conflicts within the family unit.  Drug testing can help bring the issues into the open so they can be addressed.  This is the first step towards finding a solution to the problems caused by the use of drugs by our children.  With today's technology, home drug testing is simple, inexpensive and very accurate.  Our Instant Home Drug Test Kit can test for amphetamines, methamphetamine (crystal), cocaine, opiates and marijuana. 

Looking For Help

A major problem with the war on drug abuse is the stigma that society has placed on the problem. As such, many people are too embarrassed to discuss drug related issues with their doctors, ministers, family counselors and other people you traditionally turn to for advice. 

Open discussion of family drug problems, accomplishes two things: 

First, it provides a psychological uplift to find out that you are not alone in your battle. Second, it provides an opportunity to exchange ideas to help you figure out how you are going to help your children. 

Parents working together will become more informed on drug issues and will be better prepared to fight the forces that are out there providing drugs to our children. There are hundreds of associations and neighborhood groups that have formed to fight the problem of teen drug abuse.

  • Public School Counselor
  • Al-Anon (sponsored by Alcohol Anonymous)
  • "Just Say No" (sponsored by your local police department)

 are just a few of the many places you can turn too. 

Signs That Your Child MAY Be On Drugs

When children start using drugs, they often exhibit signs which parents need to watch for. Unfortunately, many parents often write-off these signs as normal adolescent behavior and as a result do not realize that their child is into drugs. 

So how can you, as a parent know for sure whether or not your child is in danger? There is no simple answer to that question - but the best way is to know your child and understand that all children will be exposed to drugs at some time in their life. The parent who says "not my kid" is the same parent who will miss the signs that their child has started experimenting with drugs. So what should you as parents be looking for as signs that your child is experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

Dramatic changes in style of clothes, hair, music

  • Has your child started listening to radically different music? 
  • Is your kid coloring their hair some weird color just to fit in? 
  • Is your child dressing down to fit in with friends at school? 

All of these are signs that your child is succumbing to peer pressure. Your child could be in danger of falling into the same kind of peer pressure when it comes to drugs. Everyone has a need to "fit in" - especially children. To succumbing to peer pressure in itself is not a bad thing. The problem is that children don't have a wealth of experience to draw upon when making decisions and as a result it is easy for them to succumb to peer pressure can lead to trouble.

Hanging out with a bad crowd

Your child might tell you that his/her friends are cool kids - and they may be.  But you need to take a close look at the kinds of kids your child is hanging out with.  Chances are that the way their friends behave is the way your child behaves when you're not around. Do some of your child's friends smoke cigarettes? If so, odds are your child is smoking too. Your child's friends are like a mirror for your son or daughter.  Look at that mirror and try to see your child.  One of the best ways to get a good idea of what your child is like is to look at their closest friends.

Tardiness and/or truancies

You need to stay in touch with your child's school. Never assume that their school will contact you if there is a problem. If your child is getting into drugs, odds are he/she will start ditching classes or school all together.  Kids tend to take off during the middle of the school day and get stoned somewhere near the school's grounds.  Don't assume that their school will let you know about this kind of behavior.  You need to realize that kids are great at coming up with good excuses.  Every kid knows how to forge their parent's signature - no joke.  Call your child's school from time to time and ask about your child's attendance record.  Please don't assume anything - find out for yourself.

Lack of motivation in school

  • Does you child seem not to care about how he/she does in school? 
  • Does your child seem to put very little effort into homework assignments? 
  • Does your child come home from school to do his/her homework or is he/she just hanging out somewhere? 

Your child should show a healthy interest in school.  If your child doesn't, then something is wrong and drugs are just one possibility.  One of the first things that goes when your child is experimenting with drugs will be their interest in school.  Now keep in mind that no one likes school every day of every week, when you were a child did you?  Studying is hard work and everyone needs a break once in a while.  But breaks need to be earned by putting in hard work first.

Isolating from family

  • Does your child act distant? 
  • When you ask your child what he/she has been up to, does your child give you a vague reply?
  • Does you child want to eat in their room all the time instead of with the family? 

Children are smart - they know that the easiest lie to tell is the one they can avoid having to tell.  If you child doesn't tell you what he/she has been up to, there's a good chance your child is hiding something.

Dramatic changes in attitude and personality

  • Does it seem like your child is suddenly a different person with a new personality? 
  • Has your child suddenly developed a tough guy/girl attitude? 

If your child is experimenting with drugs, there's a good chance you'll be seeing these kinds of attitude changes.  Often parents just see this as normal teenage behavior - which it may be.  But on the other hand don't make the mistake of simply ignoring your child's personality change, otherwise you might overlook one of the most obvious signs of your child's drug problem

Changes in sleep patterns

This change should be fairly obvious:

Does your child stay up late (or even all night) and refuse to get up in the morning at a decent time? Does your child sleep way too much or way too little?  If your child isn't sleeping much, there is a chance he/she is using some sort of stimulant. 

If your child is sleeping too much, there is a chance that he/she is using some sort of depressant.  Everyone likes to sleep in once in a while, but be on the look out for excessive sleep behavior.

Excessive use of foul or obscene language

  • Has your child suddenly developed a filthy mouth? 

This might indicate that your child is giving into peer pressure from their friends and should be a warning sign to you.  If your child is trying to fit in with their friends by cursing, your child may look for other ways to gain acceptance into his/her peer group.  One of these ways could be drugs.

Eating way too much or way too little

Here's an obvious sign of drug experimentation that can be overlooked as normal teenage behavior:

  • Does your child come home in the afternoon after hanging out with their friends and devour every sweet in the refrigerator? 

Smoking pot gives a person the munchies and your refrigerator is a ready source of snacks to satisfy your child's cravings.

  • Does your child skip quite a few consecutive meals? 

Use of stimulants will suppress a person's appetite - that's why they are the main ingredient in diet pills.  An unusual loss of appetite, especially by young girls who want to look thin, may be a sign that your child is using stimulants.

Paranoia - everyone is out to get me

  • Does your son or daughter treat everybody as if they were the enemy? 
  • Do they tend to express the idea that everybody is out to get them? 
  • Do they seem overly paranoid to you? 

This is not normal teenage behavior and is one of the most common signs of drug abuse.

Dilated eyes - red eyes - glazed eyes

  • Has your child developed a violent side? 
  • Is he or she prone to sudden, uncontrollable fits of anger? 
  • This doesn't have to mean physical violence but can also be a teen who is always yelling or threatening people. 

Any of these behavior patterns should be a warning sign to you that your child could be experimenting with drugs


If your child is experimenting with drugs, he/she will be telling lots of lies to cover up their actions. If you suspect that your child is not telling you the truth on an on-going basis, there is a good chance that your instincts are accurate. Be persistent and learn what it is that they are trying to cover up. Drugs are always a possibility.

Dramatic mood swings

  • Does your child seem real happy one day then terribly depressed the next day? 
  • Do your child's emotions go up and down constantly? 

This is often identified as normal teenage behavior - and it may be, but it can also be a sign of drug abuse.

Excessive money requirements or money disappearing

Drugs cost money - lots of money.  If your child keeps coming to you needing money, or if money keeps disappearing from your purse or wallet, you need to have a serious talk with your child.  Do they always seem to need round amounts such as $5, $10,$20 or more - that is often the price that drugs sell for.

Talking too slow or too fast

If your child is smoking marijuana, he/she will probably speak very slowly or will express ideas that are completely out of context.  

Pot tends to put a person in a stupor and affects a person's thought process.  

If your child is using stimulants, they will speak very fast and act very hyper.  

Look for dramatic changes in your child's pattern of speech.  If one day he/she speaks normally and the next afternoon he/she is running a million miles a minute, drugs are a real possibility.

In Conclusion  

What you have just read are possible signs that your child may be experimenting with drugs or alcohol.  Or they may be signs that your child has other problems.  Or they may be signs that your child is completely normal.  There is no one right answer all the time. Be on the look out for drastic changes in your child's behavior.  You are the person best equipped to spot the warning signs of your child's problems - drug related or otherwise - because you are the person who knows your child the best.

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