Catching your teenage child with drugs might seem like one of the worst things to go through as a parent, but here are some ideas for ways to cope…



Finding out your teen is using drugs gives you the perfect opportunity to discuss the issue with them and hopefully steer them on the right path. However, you have to be careful to approach it the right way or you risk pushing them further down the path of drug use.


Of course, if your teen has been arrested for using or being concerned in the supply of drugs, there are specialist solicitors who can help you. But, if you catch them in the act before the police, you might be conflicted about how to approach the situation.


In this post, we’re going to share some advice on how to properly approach your teen about their drug use to give you the best chance of preventing it in the future. Take a look…


Are Drugs More Dangerous for Teenagers than Adults?


Before we get into how to act when you catch your teen taking drugs, we’re going to quickly share how drug use in teens is worse than in adults so you have an idea of what they can do.


During adolescence, a teenager’s brain goes through lots of changes and isn’t fully developed until they reach their mid-20s. This means that any drug use by a teen during this period can damage the brain long term and cause health issues when they get older.


Drug use in adolescence also makes a young person more vulnerable to addiction and can lead to a higher likelihood of drug dependency later in life. In fact, teens who use an addictive substance before the age of 18 are six and a half times more likely to develop a substance use disorder.


What to Do if You Catch Your Teen Taking Drugs?


So, now that we know drug use in teens is no laughing matter, it’s time to look at what you should do if you catch your teen taking drugs.

1. Gather any evidence

The first thing you should do is make sure that what you saw was your child taking drugs and not something else.


You might feel uncomfortable rummaging through your teen’s belongings. That said, it’s important that you confirm they actually are taking drugs, not only to prove it to yourself but also to make sure they don’t deny it when you talk to them about it.


There are a few common hiding places you can check, including:

  • ·         Dresser drawers
  • ·         Desk drawers
  • ·         Under their bed
  • ·         Small boxes – jewellery, pencil cases, etc.
  • ·         Backpacks, purses or other bags
  • ·         In fake containers – fake lipstick tubes, fake soda cans, etc.
  • ·         Between or inside books
  • ·         In a plant pot, buried in the soil
  • ·         Inside medicine containers

2. Get on the same page with your partner

Before you start planning your conversation with your teen about their drug use, you should speak to your partner and make sure you’re both on the same page.


The way you approach your child is critical and, if you start to say two separate things in that meeting or contradict each other, your teen won’t know which advice to follow. In this case, they may be more likely to ignore you both altogether.

3. Set realistic goals

Once you and your partner have agreed to cooperate on your approach, you need to set realistic goals for the conversation you’re going to have with your teen.


It’s unlikely your teen is going to agree to stop using drugs in your first conversation with them unless you push them too hard on it and force them to lie. Instead, you should be happy with goals such as getting across the reasons why you don’t want them to take drugs.


Try your best to:

  • ·         Maintain reasonable expectations
  • ·         Set small goals you’d like to achieve
  • ·         Listen to your teen’s feedback

4. Formulate clear rules and consequences

As well as having clear goals and objectives, you also need to think of some rules to put in place around your teen using drugs.


Get together with your partner and think of some reasonable rules that you can establish in your conversation with your teen that they need to follow. You should also have some reasonable consequences if they break those rules.

5. Talk to your teen

Now that you have your evidence, you and your partner are in sync, your goals have been decided and you know what rules you’re going to put in place, it’s time to talk to your teen.


Remember, the subject matter is delicate, and with your teen already taking drugs they’re likely in a more fragile state than usual. Don’t assume you know everything about what they’re going through. Instead, listen to them for a while so they know you actually care why they’re doing it and are someone they can talk to about it in the future.


Try to avoid confrontation at all costs, and try to reach your goals. Then, when you tell them the rules around their drug use, do it in a gentle way where you’re just letting them know what the consequences are.


If your child doesn’t open up very well, it’s often useful to ask them about their friends as they are probably more able to talk about their friends’ drug use than their own.

6. Seek professional help