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How to find out if your child is taking drugs

One of the scariest parts of being a parent to teenagers is the fear that they will mix with the wrong crowd or get into trouble. Discovering that your child is taking drugs is one of all parents’ biggest nightmares. If you suspect drug use, don’t ignore the problem; instead, tackle the issue straightaway and confront your child. We offer a few ideas to help you find out if your child has been taking drugs.

teenage boy looking through medicine cabinet

1Gather evidence

Accusing an innocent child of drug use will lead to emotional hurt and feelings of betrayal. It’s best to gather evidence for your case, if only to explain the reasons behind the accusation. Look for signs of drug use; these could include odd or secretive behavior, missing money, bodily marks, a drastic change in routine and, obviously, the possession of drugs.

2Call a family meeting

Sit down with your child to discuss the situation. Have both parents present if possible. Without getting too outwardly upset, explain the reasons behind the question and wait for your child to react.

3Stay strong

Of course, many teenagers will simply deny the accusation — it’s an instinctive reaction when confronted by parents. But before blindly accepting that your child is innocent, refrain from consoling him or her just yet and rather insist that you’re confident in your evidence. Use an understanding yet firm tone, and avoid becoming too emotional or angry.

4Consider a drug test

If you are confident about your child’s drug use but he or she continues to deny it, perhaps you may need to go to the extreme of conducting a drug test? Your local chemist should sell over-the-counter drug tests, or conduct a blood or hair follicle drug test at a clinic. The very threat might even work in getting a confession from your child.

5Educate yourself

Research the symptoms of drug use and warning signs you should be looking out for. Having a good idea of the latest or most popular street drugs will also help you to work out if your child is taking drugs. Consult health and anti-drug associations for more information and advice on how to prevent, identify and stop drug use.

Even if your child isn’t taking drugs, communication is very important. Try to explain why drugs should be avoided and show you care about them and their health. If you find out that your child does has a drug problem, consider an intervention and or a drug treatment program.

How to recognise signs of drug addiction

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