If you have found out for sure that your child is experimenting with drugs and alcohol, what you do next is a matter of utmost importance. Some parents shrug drug experimentation off as a phase a child goes through as they grow up. Other parents just want to deny the problem and hope it will go away on its own. But the truth is you can't ignore your child's drug problem...it will not go away on its own, it will only get worse!
Here are some suggestions on what you can do as parents if your child is using drugs or alcohol.
- You need to find out what kinds of drug your child is experimenting with. Often children will claim they are only smoking marijuana when they are really using other drugs also. Take the time to investigate matters for yourself, and find out what's really going on.
- Begin to scrutinize your child's choice of friends. If your son or daughter is experimenting with drugs, some of his or her friends are also involved. It is important to find out which of these friends are involved in this experimentation and get your child away from these influences. This is one of the most difficult things to accomplish, but it is also one of the most necessary. Bad friends corrupt good morals. Of those that leave Teen Challenge and end up back on drugs, one of the most common reasons is that they went back to the same old friends and environment where they used drugs before. Those that stay clean invariably find a new set of friends that encourage and support good values and wholesome fun that does not include drugs and alcohol.
- Get your children involved in church activities. It is very important not only to get your children away from kids who are bad influences on them, but to get them around people who will have a positive impact on their life. Churches center many of their activities around the family and are often overlooked as a source for help. Students who have completed the Teen Challenge program and continue to stay off drugs often site church activities as one reason that they are able to "stay clean."
- Get involved in your child's life. Today's fast-paced world has taken its toll on parenting. Many parents idea of spending time with their children is sitting down and spending an hour or two watching television with them. That is not the kind of involvement your child needs! Spend quality time with your son or daughter...helping them with their homework or just sitting down each day and talking about what your child did that day. Also take the time to personally attend their activities with them. Show your children that you care about them by doing things with them. This also gives you an opportunity to see who their friends are and how they act when they are together.
- Set standards for your child. Let him or her know what you expect of them around the house, what their chores are and the penalty for not doing them. Also set standards for your child at school. Tell you child what kind of grades you expect him to achieve. And finally, give your child standards for behavior. Your child needs to know that using drugs and alcohol is unacceptable behavior. Don't be afraid to deal with your child using tough love if he or she continues to experiment with drugs or alcohol. The alternatives are much worse!
- Seek help from people who understand what you are going through. The pastor at the church your family attends is one person you can talk to about what your child is going through. Teen Challenge is another alternative for help. Our centers have been helping people with drug and alcohol problems for over 35 years. Also, there are support groups out there (such as Turning Point) that are ready to help you with your son or daughter's drug or alcohol problem. It is very important for you to remember that you are not alone!