17yo son is smoking dope. How do I handle this?

(177 Posts)
BIWI Mon 20-Feb-12 18:39:19

I have had suspicions for a while that his peer group have been dabbling with dope, and a bit of undercover sleuthing by me this morning has confirmed it.

It seems to have progressed from smoking dope supplied by others to buying it him/themselves.

I am alarmed by this generally, but also very specifically because we are having the first inkling of problems at college as well. We had a letter from college just before half term to say that he has missed 21% of classes since January.

When I asked him about this, he told me it was just one subject hmm and that he had been missing classes because he hadn't done his homework - but that he had realised how stupid he was being and had stopped doing it. He swears that he is now up to date with all his coursework/homework. (I haven't yet checked this; today was the first day back and I simply haven't had the opportunity to call the college).

How do I handle this? My natural instinct is simply to go ballistic blush which probably won't help matters.

Because of the issue with his work, he is already having his X-Box 'rationed' - he isn't allowed to use it until after 9.00 pm, and after he has done some work. This was put in place before the issue of drugs reared its ugly head.

He goes to a lot of sleepovers at the weekend, but only occasionally has friends staying with us. The last time was Saturday night, after a (very) late return from a gig, and I know now that they were smoking a joint here at 4am in our garden angry.

I have a lot of questions:

- how do I deal with this?
- how do I discipline in regard to this?
- would grounding help? (Personally I'm doubtful)
- should I stop giving him pocket money? He doesn't yet have a job to fund himself, so I could stop him buying it (although nothing to stop him smoking stuff others have bought)
- I know the boy (who was here on Saturday night) reasonably well, and also his parents. Should I call them and talk to them about it too? (I have no idea what their reaction might be/whether they know/suspect)

He is, in the main, a 'good' boy, and should do well in his AS/A-levels, although he is not really applying himself generally. I really need to find some way to sort this out so that he can do his best in the next few months, so that he can get decent AS levels.

If anyone has any experience of this and can help me with some/any/all of these questions, I would be very, very grateful.

AnAirOfHope Mon 20-Feb-12 18:49:58

I do not have a 17yo yet as my son is only 3yo but at 17 why do you not treat him as the adult he is?

Talk openly with him about drugs, ask him why he is doing this and what he thinks on the subject, find out the facts about smoking it and give them to him. Ask him to stop and if you catch him again tell him you will stop his money and that he will have to work to pay for his own drug habit as you are only going to pay for his education.

Then show him the letter from college and discuss that openly. Why is it only one course, can he change, is it vital for his future work and then tell him what you expect of him.

(Confiscating his game at 17 is a bit childish to me, he needs to grow up and relise you do not have to house him or pay for him to fail college)

sorry but its time you played hard ball with him!

BIWI Mon 20-Feb-12 18:59:19

I would love to play hard ball with him, believe you me. But I also want to be able to deal with things without just pushing him away, IYSWIM.

And removing his X-Box 'privileges' may seem childish, but it really hits him where it will hurt.

We're sitting down to have a conversation about it later, which is why I'm asking for help.

sunshineoutdoors Mon 20-Feb-12 19:02:13

I think maybe one way to play it is to focus on the legal aspect - and if it is going on in your home he is doing something illegal that could also implicate you as the homeowner? (unsure of the truth of this)

Is this something you are against generally or worried about because it's your son? Is it the fact he's taking the drug or the fact that your worried it might affect other aspects of his life like college? How you feel about it will probably affect the best way for you to handle it.

I agree an open, honest discussion about the drug and all issues surrounding it - what gets me most about weed is the possible mental health risks - is the way to go.

Different if he was 14, but at 17 he is almost an adult which I imagine makes punishment a complex issue. I don't have a teen but have been a dope smoking one and tbh it is a difficult issue (I kept it a secret from mine, I'm not sure how they could have handled it or if they could have made me stop tbh).

Keeping lines of communication open so that if any problem does arise they know they can turn to you for support re dependency, side effects, lifestyle and financial impacts and worries may be a good thing to hope for.

Sorry, I feel that's maybe not very helpful and possibly a bit too soft. I understand as a parent you'd just like to stop it happening but realistically this may not be the case. Although having a disapproving parent may go some way towards keeping a negative association of sorts with the drug, I'm not suggesting you go over liberal and 'right on' - you're the parent after all and if you're not happy with it you should make that clear, but be aware it could just keep happening but more carefully without your knowledge.

BIWI Mon 20-Feb-12 19:05:18

I have been on the FRANK website, and have printed some stuff off.

I'm most immediately worried about its impact on his performance at college (and his attendance). I'm specifically worried because it's illegal - and if it's on our premises, we are liable too, so you were right there.

But longer term I'm terrified about the implications re mental health.

I'm not stupid/naive - I know that they all dabble/experiment. It's exactly what I did too grin, but I'd like to see it kept 'at that level', IYSWIM.

Bag0fsmeggyDicks Mon 20-Feb-12 19:10:09

The Frank site is rubbish. Your son is almost an adult, Just air your disapproval.

You can't control him, just try to guide him. It's harmless and most people smoke a bit of dope at some point in their lives.

Bombarding him with crap off the web will cause a row, He will probably google his own stuff to show you in return. Is it really worth the upset?

I know a lot of families that have been affected by parents with serious control issues, like the pfb never grows up. Leave him be.

BIWI Mon 20-Feb-12 19:12:51

Why is it rubbish? Where else should I look for 'better' information?

My son is actually a few days short of being 17 (blush I just rounded it up in my haste to post!), so he isn't really almost an adult yet.

I don't want to 'control' him, but nor can I leave him be.

And smoking dope isn't harmless. Or do you know better?

Bag0fsmeggyDicks Mon 20-Feb-12 19:17:18

For information on cannabis? Where better than a cannabis forum?

I would take the word of a load of stoners over government on this subject anyday. Do you remember Professor David Nutt? He got fired for saying that cannabis was basically harmless and alcohol was the real danger, even though science backs this up too.

Or www.norml.org.uk/norml. Frank is shit, honestly. Its not credible at all. If you want convincing propaganda then hit google.

sunshineoutdoors Mon 20-Feb-12 19:18:44

I think that what you wrote in your 19:05 post sounds like a good way to address it with him.

You can say that you know it is going on and you know he's nearly 18 and legally an adult but you're concerned that it might be affecting his college and therefore his prospects for the future. You're not happy that it is going on in your house because it's illegal. Also you're worried about mh risks longterm.

I think what you said about knowing (and possibly expecting?) people to dabble will help him see that you are talking to him adult to adult.

I think putting it in the way you did in that posts shows you understand, and have concerns about specific things because you care, but ultimately acknowledges that you can't really stop him but you'd like to be able to talk about it.

I think as children grow up and have a right and need to make their own choices, being able to have an open and honest conversation about it and be a source of support is the best thing you can do as a parent.

vitaminC Mon 20-Feb-12 19:20:00

My oldest DC is only 13, but I honestly think it's fair enough to lay down conditions and punishments whilst he's still a minor, living under your roof and at your expense!

I would certainly stop paying for the drugs - if he wants to buy them, he needs to go out and get a job (which would also mean he keeps busy and has less time to hang around smoking!).

I would also set some expectation of results at college, which you know he is capable of achieving - not necessarily grades, but attendance, meeting deadlines for assignments etc. and remove privileges (car if he drives or lifts to places, games console, even mobile phone if necessary).

It's all very well wanting to treat him like an adult, but he has to be given the motivation to behave like one, IMO!

BIWI Mon 20-Feb-12 19:20:11

You see, BagO, I'm not prepared to take the word of a load of stoners because they have a very specific, vested interest in cannabis being deemed harmless.

Call me old fashioned ...

Bag0fsmeggyDicks Mon 20-Feb-12 19:22:25

I would be more worried about my teens taking chemical drugs and drinking alcohol tbh. People go on about mh issues and cannabis, Alcohol is a serious issue though, especially with young people that don't know there own limit.

Honestly, If any of mine wanted to smoke, I'd not approve openly at all, but dabbling is part of growing up. I would rather they did it in the safety of their own home than out on the street with dodgy people potentially risking a criminal record or caution over something so trivial.

cybbo Mon 20-Feb-12 19:24:48

You need MaryZ BIWI she's the teen parenting guru

Hope you can get it sorted

I think I would voice dissappointment rather than drug facts, stress how easy it is for these things to spiral out of hand. Not sure grounding would help- is he the sort of boy who would go against your wishes? Maybe have his friends over to you more often?

BIWI Mon 20-Feb-12 19:25:12

I didn't say I wasn't worried about those things!

Dabbling is part of growing up. I said that. Been there, got the t-shirt.

Doing it in the safety of my home means I'm liable too - and I don't much fancy a criminal record, thanks.

cybbo Mon 20-Feb-12 19:25:35

Agree about money too- he coudl get a job

Bag0fsmeggyDicks Mon 20-Feb-12 19:26:14

Why would they have a vested interest?

I don't recall anyone ever being physically addicted to, or killed by a pipe, bong or brownie.

Loads of american and European research on this too, Where I come from people are allowed to have it for illness. Its prescribed by a doctor, and deemed safe.

Vested interest, yes definitely. But not the way that you think.

Madlizzy Mon 20-Feb-12 19:26:38

It's bollocks that cannabis is harmless. I've seen a fair few lives wrecked by it. I approached my DS with the mental health angle, and that scared him silly when we both looked indepth into what it can do. I also chatted about how dope is far stronger now than it was when I was a teenager and can cause aggression rather than a craving for crisps and toast.

Bag0fsmeggyDicks Mon 20-Feb-12 19:30:20

Madlizzy, Sources, please. I must see them.
Stoned people have this stereotype you see. I want to know where all these rowdy mad bong sniffers are, I have never met one and I have encountered many people.

cybbo Mon 20-Feb-12 19:32:36

Bag I dont think this is helping BIWI with her problem is it?

She's hardly going to say to her son , ' You carry on! It's good for you!!'

Madlizzy Mon 20-Feb-12 19:34:55

These are people I have known in my past. One male and one female, early 20s, went from being motivated individuals who occasionally had a toke, to dependent on skunk to get them through the day. Both ended up on the psychiatric ward, one with bipolar and the other with generalised anxiety disorder. Another friend who was round at mine starting to whip through my housework so I could speak to a friend who could supply dope. She was desperate for it. I'm not a complete innocent with regard to dope and I have also encountered many people.

Bag0fsmeggyDicks Mon 20-Feb-12 19:40:28

No one is recommending that she says that cybbo, It is a hard situation, People are saying what they would do in the same situation.

Being mindful is important, There is a lot of info out there, The uk governments propaganda on soft drugs is absurd. Just looking on google for 2 minutes pooh poohs franks website, and going in all guns blazing when dealing with a young adult, who is their own person is a bad move.

I wouldn't want to give false info, or alienate my kids. Give facts yes. It is part of growing up though.

noddyholder Mon 20-Feb-12 19:40:33

I have done all the drugs in my 20s but was always a controlled sort of person and was very lucky to come out of it unscathed. Because of this I always thought it would be a nightmare telling ds not to. He is 17 too and I know him and his mates have the odd puff but my brother had a psychotic episode after smoking skunk ONCE and he had been smoking regular cannabis for years. He is now living on his own with no real life and is paranoid and medicated which he will never some off. This has not gone unnoticed by ds and he sees that his uncle has thrown it all away as it were and so he is cautious. I think maybe sit him down and explain that you have concerns about the mental and health effects and try not to go too far down the morality road.

Bag0fsmeggyDicks Mon 20-Feb-12 19:44:41

Madlizzy, Bipolar is a personality disorder. Its not caused by anything. People that have it are born that way.

Your _heresay_source is bollocks, sorry to be rude but it is, Read up a bit on mh issues and then maybe you will know what it is that you are talking about.

Bag0fsmeggyDicks Mon 20-Feb-12 19:46:41

I like how its all along the lines of " i know somebody who smelt some skunk, then they went and murdered someone", much like the benefit bashing threads.

suburbophobe Mon 20-Feb-12 19:47:57

Best is to keep the communication open.

14 is such a hard age to deal with!

He is not stupid and knows - probably/maybe more than you - what it's all about and what the consequences are.

Let him be himself, if he wants to smoke, remind him he can do that for the rest of his life but right now he needs to get an education too.

My son has smoked marijuana since he was 14, (all/most kids do anyway at some point). I just sat him down and gave him the consequences and a reality check. And the limits of what is acceptable.

He's at one of the top unis now. (that's not boast, just the reality), smoking a joint doesn't have to mean "the end of it all"....

Medical marijuana is a reality too, and many countries decriminalising - Portugal, Switzerland, California (medical use)...

Just <breathe> and don't panic....and be there for him to offload.....

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