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I recently discovered my 17-year old son has been using drugs for more than a year – pot, ecstasy and others. He says he knows the risks of taking drugs but he doesn’t care because they’re the most “fun” he’s ever had. We told him we wouldn’t allow him to use drugs as long as he was our responsibility and that we would send him to a treatment center if we had to in order to protect him. That scared him enough that he agreed to stop using drugs until he turns 18. My problem now is two-fold.

Short-term: How in the world do I know if he’s still using drugs? We’ve told him he can’t go out with his friends anymore, but he still has a job and goes golfing. How can we know what he’s doing when we can’t watch him 24-hours a day? He says he’s not using now but he lied to us for so long, I don’t trust him.

Long-term: How can we help him see that drugs just aren’t worth the risks and dangers?


Good questions! You are on the right path. You’ve confronted the problem and stated your expectations. Your trust is shot and it’s not your fault – it’s his. So, set up a series of drug tests through your family physician (it may be at his office or he may recommend a lab or a hospital). The tests should be once or twice a month for the first 3 months – and not on a regular schedule. If he stays clean, you can drop back to once a month (also at random intervals) and eventually move to occasional testing – perhaps with a home drug-test kit. I wouldn’t recommend the home kit at first. He needs to know you are deadly serious about your expectations. As he regains your trust with clean drug tests and good behavior, you can gradually restore his privileges.

Do check to make sure he is in school every day. Insist on meeting his friends – have them over for a barbeque or take them to a baseball game. Look for good, accurate information about drugs on www.health.org, www.nationalfamilies.org www.clubdrugs.org, www.theantidrug.com. Educate yourselves and then make that information available to him. He will undoubtedly bristle at your restrictions but there will be no doubt in his mind that you love him.

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Last Updated 05.20.2002 | Email Parenting is Prevention | Privacy Policy