Finding out my 14 year old niece had been experimenting with drugs was shocking, and although she has sworn she won’t use again…how can we as parents know that our kids are safe from drugs?
Her Rights to Privacy?
I’ve decided that her privacy rights are less important than ensuring that she is drug free, and although it’s never fun or pleasant to invade someone’s personal space, if that’s what it takes to keep her safe, then that’s what I’ll do.
The years of adolescence are a period of transition and often a period of experimentation; and this is of course simply the normal progression and maturation into adulthood. But this willingness to experiment, coupled with a perception of immortality, makes the likelihood of trying and potentially abusing drugs very high.
Most kids don’t do drugs, a lot do but never have a problem, and a small percentage of kids will sadly suffer the devastation of addiction, at a time of life that can be tough enough as it is. You want to be there for your kids, but as they age and separate in their quest for autonomy, it can be increasingly tough to feel confident that you really know your kids, and more importantly, know what they’re up to. All you can do as parents is to educate your kids about the dangers and keep on the lookout for any of the warning signs that may point to drug abuse; and should anything indicate drug use, be ready to take the steps necessary to protect your kids. You want to trust you kids and give them the personal space they crave, but if you’re concerned about drug use, it’s better to have them seething as you search their room, then possibly let them continue on the road to destruction.
As a recovering drug and alcohol addict, I’ve always been confident that I’d know of any drug or alcohol use pretty quickly…
I know how addicts behave, and I’m far too familiar with the effects of most drugs – but I guess I wasn’t as perceptive as I thought. My 14 year old niece (I’m her legal guardian) recently jumped out of the car after school only to have a bottle of Visine tumble out of her pocket onto the seat.
We both saw it, and although she tried to act nonchalant, I know that normal kids have no need for eye drops, and remember all to well hastily fixing my own eyes before walking past my parents when I was a kid. After a long and serious talk, she eventually confessed to using marijuana with her friends, and although adamant that it was no big deal, has agreed to stop using.
I know that this doesn’t necessarily mean that she will, but at least I now know she’s vulnerable to drugs and abuse, and I am going to be watching her pretty carefully for the next few years. Now if she hadn’t confessed to her usage, this would have left me in a very uncomfortable position. I don’t believe that she has a need for Visine other than to hide the symptoms of drug use, but I have no other solid evidence to confirm my suspicions. At this point, you can either accept them at their word, or invade their privacy to get concrete evidence one way or the other.
Not an easy or fun decision; but I know how destructive drug use can become, and as such I know what I would have done.
I thought I was safe
She’s a good student, and doesn’t display any of the normal and stereotypical behaviors of drug use, and so I thought she was in the clear. Everyone needs to talk to their kids about drugs, but just as importantly, don’t assume that simply because your child looks and acts the same, that they are not using drugs.
Anyone can fall victim to drug abuse, and sometimes behavioral changes, failing grades, and failing health don’t appear until the abuse has already become severe. It is far better to discover drug abuse in the early stages, and so parents must be vigilant and observant for any indications of use. With cheap drugs like meth and school-yard heroin now available, it wouldn’t take much experimentation to destroy a life full of promise, and although education helps, it’s not always enough.
Be there for your kids, and be aware of the signs and symptoms that may indicate drug use. Teens value privacy, but you’ve got to keep them safe, and if you need to invade their personal space to ensure they’re drug free, then maybe it needs to be done.