One of my children went through a period of frequent if not intense cannabis use, when he was aged between 14 and 17. Parents are the last to know. People who know your child is taking drugs – schoolmates, their parents, teachers - will not inform you and teenagers have a law of silence. A true friend came and told me as soon as she knew. Later I heard that some parents had known as well for many years that my son used drugs, but they did not judge it necessary to inform me. This is failing to assist a person in danger.
You also have to know that a child who is doing drugs becomes a liar.
Your candid little boy, always so truthful, is telling you lies and sometimes (often) he steals from you. Drugs make him lose the concept of good and bad and make him very ingenious at hiding things. Overwhelming him with questions or searching his room does not seem to be useful. On the other hand, if you say to him –if of course it is true- "I know that you are doing drugs", you may see him opening up, relieved that your eyes are finally open... If he keeps talking about cannabis as a "natural" product, "much less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol, which are not banned because they make the State richer", you can be sure he is consuming, and be ready to respond immediately to any argument with precise and documented information.
I was convinced that "smoking joints" always gave bloodshot eyes, I was looking for this sign, but I have never seen it. Other signs should have warned me: permanent thirst, cough, brief and regular outbursts of violence – which I explained by adolescence – in a child naturally so gentle.
A fall in school results can be a consequence of an intense consumption. A fall in results along with indifference and inability to envision the future is nonetheless a sign that you cannot miss. Some teenagers who use drugs frequently, regularly but not intensely, are under the impression that they "control" the situation because their school results do not change. It is important to talk to them about the nature of this illusionary feeling of control, about the dangers for their health and the risks of sliding into an intensive consumption – e.g. after a love lost, a mourning...
It is frustrating to hear told that the only thing to do when faced with a teenager who is doing drugs is to tell him "drugs kill; I love you, I don't want you to take drugs" according to the words of Marie-Christine d'Welles. Of course, the most efficient method remains prevention. But when a child has "fallen", he has to be told and retold "drugs kill; I love you, I don't want you to take drugs", in every possible tone and way, as many times as possible, and with as many details and arguments as possible. And it works. Sometimes a change of environment that cuts the child off from his circle of consumers, in which he has more or less locked himself up, can save the situation.
Fathers are often left helpless when facing a problem, and mothers, whether separated or not, often feel that they face the problem alone... They must take care not to add to the anxiety or stress of the situation a resentment regarding the father of their child!
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