It was a moment Tom would never forget. He was simply gathering the dirty laundry from his kids’ bedrooms. When he got to 15-year-old Laura’s room, he found a lot more than the dirty socks he was expecting. Beneath a pile of crumpled clothes, Tom discovered a bag of pills.
Suddenly, his daughter’s recent behavior made sense. He thought she was going through a typical teen phase, but this revelation made things clear. Laura was using drugs. Now what?
Tom knew they would need to make some drastic changes...but where in the world should he begin?
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When parents like Tom discover their teen is using drugs, it’s hard to know what to do next or where to turn. In addition to getting substance abuse treatment set up for your teen, it’s important to make healthy changes in the home.
The following steps will help to create a healthy environment for your teen while she's on the road to recovery. What's more, positive change provides the structure and support she needs during this critical time.
- Friendship Restrictions: You likely need to clamp down on interactions with friends. And this may include friends you have trusted in the past. Now that you know your teenager is using drugs, the trust is broken. Keep close tabs on who she hangs with. Make a rule that time with friends must be spent at your home – with a parent present.
- Curfew Change: Your teen may require an earlier curfew. She won’t like it, but it’s for her own protection. Late nights often lead to bad choices. Get her home early.
- Alone-Time Limits: How much time does your teen spend alone in her room? Do you limit this? Set rules regarding this alone time. Encourage her to do homework in shared living areas. Place televisions and game systems in family areas, as well. Don’t let her hide away. Being out in the open not only makes it harder to use drugs, it also helps prevent isolation, which encourages depression - a condition that often leads to drug use.
- Activity Boost: Is your teen involved in any extracurricular activities? She doesn’t have to suddenly become an all-star athlete. Just get her involved in something. Find a volunteer organization. Let her choose an after-school club. Suggest learning to play an instrument. The goal is to help her find healthier ways to fill her time. Don’t book every second of her day, but try to avoid too much idle time.
- Wise Counsel: Keep this in mind: you’re not in this alone. It can be difficult to find the right balance between freedom and restriction. You want your teen to learn and grow, but you don’t want to allow an environment that encourages relapse. Speak with school counselors, social workers, drug treatment program specialists or other mentors for guidance. You’re not the first parent who’s been in this situation – and you won’t be the last.
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