My teen is using drugs - is there any hope? Does anyone have experience with this?

(45 Posts)
Alvah Sun 14-Feb-16 11:14:10

I am struggling with the revelation that my son has been using/experimenting with drugs over this last year. I knew about the weed, but class A drugs was a shock too hard for me. What the hell do I do?

I would be eternally grateful for the advice of anyone who has been through this, both on what to do and what not to do.

He, DS 15, is a strongly independent and stubborn boy with a cunning mind and a soft heart. He hates himself for hurting me but cannot stay away from his friends and 'all the fun'.

I hate drugs more than anything in this world and am literally facing my worst fears. I think I'd deal better with his death than this...i know that sounds awful, but that's how it feels right now.

I feel sick all the time, depressed and lost. He says he's totally fine, can handle himself and that I just need to trust him. Yeh, right.

It doesn't help there's a whole group of them from 12 years and up. They are the rebel kids, beautiful but dangerous, playing with fire and loving it.

I have left every partner who used/dabbled with drugs. But I can't leave my son...

Thank you for reading star

MummySparkle Sun 14-Feb-16 11:16:53

I have no experience so no words of help. But I really didn't want to read and run. flowers for you, it must be a really difficult time for you right now x

StuffandBother Sun 14-Feb-16 11:19:25

Wow, It's hard being a mum isn't it. I'm sure people will be along to tell you to lock him in his room until he's 18 (which might be the answer, who knows) my friends sons who are early 20's now were very similar, she and they survived, they are both lovely young men who have a good relationship with their mum and ... they came through and I'm sure your son will too. No advice though I'm afraid.

LaurieFairyCake Sun 14-Feb-16 11:49:46

There's a long list of things I would do, ignore it if it's not for you:

"I will only buy you things from now on, you will get no money because I won't risk my child being arrested for criminal activity - you might not know how it will affect your future but I do"

Buy nothing he can sell - write his name on things in marker pen (Xbox for example)

Get the police in to talk to him

Don't cover for him - call the police if you find drugs - search his room, he's not entitled to privacy if you as the adult can get arrested for having drugs in your home

Not allowed out without a clear activity in mind - take him, pick him up - if he gets out, find him (if he's in the park with drugs and mates, call the police who will turn up and search them)

Try to get other parents on side and involve them

Zero tolerance to illegal activity - it's easier if you just pick the law and get him to comply, no wiffling about whether you don't think cigarettes are as bad, or weed isn't as bad - just pick the law and have zero tolerance - if there's cigarettes, rizla papers, drug paraphernalia throw it out at home - he's under 16 he can't smoke or drink

Change the house language - if you were previously liberal because you wanted to encourage independent thinking etc and you think that's made him in any way think he can bring trouble to your door then stop it. I just keep saying ' in this house we comply with the law no matter whether we privately think differently'

More family time, parenting at this age is not easier because you're trying to encourage responsibility - get him into touch but safe stuff if he's a risk taker - BASE jumping, rifle shooting, bungee jumping, hard activities that are physically tiring but also exhilarating where he feels he can develop self esteem and self worth - it's especially hard parenting a risk taker, you need eyes in the back of your head and you need to be on top of your game

Don't trust him. Be more clever. Stalk, follow, manipulate. You're trying to keep him alive, safe, free of a criminal record. Be smarter than him, pretend you're not by all means to get information.

Lock down your internet parental controls. No adult websites doesn't just mean no porn, it means no druggy websites. No 3 or 4g on his phone. Cancel contract, control wifi.

Keep him very busy. Spend your money on risky but safe controllable activities.

As I said, ignore anything that's no good to you smile - my perspective is skewed by the circumstances I've been in fostering teenagers who have heavy police/social work involvement.

thanks for you

Branleuse Sun 14-Feb-16 11:59:41

what drugs is he using?

I mean obviously its all a big worry, especially at his age, but theres a pretty big difference between occasional MDMA use and shooting up smack, in terms of both risk, and outcome

gymboywalton Sun 14-Feb-16 12:02:11

*It doesn't help there's a whole group of them from 12 years and up. They are the rebel kids, beautiful but dangerous, playing with fire and loving it.
*

what????????? do you KNOW all these children? have you spoken to their parents?
I am sorry but it sounds like you are glamourising it all..beautiful but dangerous? There is nothing beautiful about being an addict.

if he 'can't' stay away from his friends then you KEEP him away from them!

laurie has given you excellent advice.i suggest you follow it.

madwomanacrosstheroad Sun 14-Feb-16 12:09:50

Have you got younger children?
Would second the tough love, zero tolerance approach.
If you have younger children you need to prioritise their protection.

Unnerved Sun 14-Feb-16 12:14:25

Hi OP i sympthasize as my DB throughout his teens dabbled in drugs first weed, coke, pills crack and eventfully he ended up on herion. It was a stepping stone that soon progressed into some bigger. It only takes trying herion once and thats it they are hooked to a high they will never achieve again. My DB was a good lad kind smart but his drug turned him into a monster someone who was verbally and physically abusive, stole, lied. He took the best years of his life his early twenties when he should be out enjoying himself going on holidays. It took my DM to have a heart attack and after several attempts of rehab he was clean and has been for over 10 years. Please don't ignore it as one off or its only coke. It only takes someone else introducing the latest new drug. Look at that young girl a wheelchair after taking a drug in the news. Have you got someone whos a good role model not a parent but uncle or older brother who could have a gentle chat?

Branleuse Sun 14-Feb-16 14:08:54

theres no use catastrophising. Of course there is hope. The vast vast VAST majority of people who dabble in drugs when theyre young end up with completely normal lives and it is just a phase. You need to take it seriously obviously, but dont freak out. Find out properly whats going on and go for damage limitation. It doesnt just take one time and theyre hooked forever. This isnt Grange hill.

tangerinesarenottheonlyfruit Sun 14-Feb-16 14:25:59

"It was a stepping stone that soon progressed into some bigger"

It's not always a stepping stone. Drugs are not an inevitable path to heroin.

"It only takes trying herion once and thats it they are hooked to a high they will never achieve again"

This is also simply not true.

I took a huge amount of drugs when I was a teenager and into my 20s (MDMD, acid, ketamine etc) so did many of my friends. A small number of them did move on to heroin or crack. Some became alcoholics.

But the vast majority of them moved on into adult life, had kids, stopped taking drugs, have successful careers. You wouldn't have a clue as to their nefarous pasts!

You need to be there for him. If you judge him you will shut down the lines of communication.

"Get the police in to talk to him" is terrible, terrible advice. The effects of being known to the police and ending up with a criminal record could be much worse than the effects of the drugs.

OP, what is he taking? That does make a difference. If it is something addictive like crack or heroin then you do need to intervene. If it's non-addictive like MDMA then you should start by learning about the drug IMO so you are acting from a position of knowledge not fear.

tangerinesarenottheonlyfruit Sun 14-Feb-16 14:27:07

*MDMA, not MDMD! (Don't want to start rumours about a some new kind of drug!)

PurpleThermalsNowItsWinter Sun 14-Feb-16 14:34:05

OP - didn't want to read & run.
You need to be strict and get him involved in other activities as others have suggested.
Also look at UK activity camps such as this to get him away from his 'friends' and give him a chance to make new ones
summercamps.yha.org.uk

specialsubject Sun 14-Feb-16 16:29:55

he's not an independent thinker if he follows his druggie mates, sheep-like. I like the suggestion of fun that doesn't come from mushing your mind - a challenging sport or activity that needs work, not simply inhaling or injecting.

he breaks the law so cannot be trusted. Tell him that.

I wish you the best and hope he sees sense and gets a life. Wasting it like this is so sad.

Cutleryhands Sun 14-Feb-16 16:43:23

There's a long list of things I would do, ignore it if it's not for you:

"I will only buy you things from now on, you will get no money because I won't risk my child being arrested for criminal activity - you might not know how it will affect your future but I do"

Buy nothing he can sell - write his name on things in marker pen (Xbox for example)

Get the police in to talk to him

Don't cover for him - call the police if you find drugs - search his room, he's not entitled to privacy if you as the adult can get arrested for having drugs in your home

Not allowed out without a clear activity in mind - take him, pick him up - if he gets out, find him (if he's in the park with drugs and mates, call the police who will turn up and search them)

Try to get other parents on side and involve them

Zero tolerance to illegal activity - it's easier if you just pick the law and get him to comply, no wiffling about whether you don't think cigarettes are as bad, or weed isn't as bad - just pick the law and have zero tolerance - if there's cigarettes, rizla papers, drug paraphernalia throw it out at home - he's under 16 he can't smoke or drink

Change the house language - if you were previously liberal because you wanted to encourage independent thinking etc and you think that's made him in any way think he can bring trouble to your door then stop it. I just keep saying ' in this house we comply with the law no matter whether we privately think differently'

More family time, parenting at this age is not easier because you're trying to encourage responsibility - get him into touch but safe stuff if he's a risk taker - BASE jumping, rifle shooting, bungee jumping, hard activities that are physically tiring but also exhilarating where he feels he can develop self esteem and self worth - it's especially hard parenting a risk taker, you need eyes in the back of your head and you need to be on top of your game

Don't trust him. Be more clever. Stalk, follow, manipulate. You're trying to keep him alive, safe, free of a criminal record. Be smarter than him, pretend you're not by all means to get information.

Lock down your internet parental controls. No adult websites doesn't just mean no porn, it means no druggy websites. No 3 or 4g on his phone. Cancel contract, control wifi.

Keep him very busy. Spend your money on risky but safe controllable activities.

As I said, ignore anything that's no good to you  - my perspective is skewed by the circumstances I've been in fostering teenagers who have heavy police/social work involvemen

Anything but this above. Sure fire ways to push him away and more into the scene. Not one of them will discourage him other than more family time. In fact, possibly the worst post I've seen.

Alvah Sun 14-Feb-16 17:35:29

Thank you all ever so much for your wisdom, advice and suggestions.

When I picked him up I could see he had taken something, but I had no idea what it could have been. I knew another teen had taken valium the weekend before (the police were aware and he was lifted). I asked the two girls that had come with him, but they said they didn't know. I phoned NHS 24 who said bring him to A&E, however he refused to get in the car when it came to it. He realised I was speaking to someone about him and freaked a bit. In the end it was agreed I should keep him home but wake him every 15 minutes. He told me then that he had taken ecstasy or mdma, and that he has before and he's always been fine. He said he's been wanting to tell me for ages but was to scared to. He said everyone was on it.

I have been in numbed shock ever since, especially when I was told by someone this week that someone said he has also tried coke. He denies this, but of course he would.

I have been in touch with the drug and alcohol team about advice on how to handle it. Also the school nurse pulled him in to speak to him at school, but he just said he'd had too much to drink, and that I'd got it wrong. I'll be phoning her on Monday.

The reason why I've not got him locked up is because I cannot manage... From the age 9-10 he has been physically defiant as in running off, self-harming smashing things up when his freedom was restricted. I took him to GP then for help with his anger and then again at 13. I got police involved last year when the drinking/weed started, who charged him with vandalism and drugs possession. These were later dropped. Children's services got involved and worked with us for a couple of months, but then let us go because he was cooperating and following 'rules' such as when to be home etc. He refused to speak to anyone about his anger/hurt which he relates back to childhood (parent separation and always being told off as he has always been a bit defiant/difficult). He said he would rather die than be stuck in here. GP wanted DS himself to agree to referral to CAMHS, but he refused. I told GP I suspected drug use as his pupils had been enlarged, but was told this could be due to alcohol consumption.

Getting him to and from somewhere is practically impossible, as he towers above me and has not been movable/coerced or forced since apart from when handcuffed by police. And even then he fought them with all he had.

So this is why the ground him, consequence and punish him route has not been taken. He's wanting to move out when he's 16, so he can do what he wants. I'm trying to keep him safe, by keeping him home and lines of communication open. He now deeply regrets me finding out, but probably also wants me to know.

I am waiting for advice from Drug and Alcohol services to ask about withholding money. They have already said that unless he wants help to stop I can't force him. Although I suppose there could be a forced intervention. I will see what they say.

As for the Beautiful and Dangerous illustration, that seems to be how they see themselves. They're not afraid of anything, the reason they like it is likely because it is illegal/dangerous.

I have reported to the police one adult and one teen who is supplying drugs. Parents of the other teens are either in denial, not fussed or they don't know. I have told some, but they don't think their son/daughter would be involved. Just like I believed mine wasn't. I have to take into account the risk caused by me openly telling people, both to my son and to our relationship.

Thanks again for your thoughts. It's gonna be a tough time ahead sad

LaurieFairyCake Sun 14-Feb-16 17:44:56

Good luck OP, it sounds like you're trying very hard - hopefully he will start to talk to you or someone else about the emotional pain he's suffering.

Cutleryhands - no idea why you think it's ok or useful to reproduce my post, say it's terrible advice and yet offer no advice whatsoever, no personal experience, nothing to the OP at ALL hmm

How about you offer some advice or help instead of just coming on to rubbish other posts?

Branleuse Sun 14-Feb-16 18:00:56

Well statistically hes more at risk from eating peanuts than taking MDMA, but thats not the point of course. It sounds like theres a massive history of him slowly going off the rails and risk taking behaviour, and thats a pattern that could lead him into harm. Is there a reason for it. Have you ever suspected he may have ADHD or another SEN?

Alvah Sun 14-Feb-16 18:18:59

I appreciate all the advice given, and believe me I would absolutely apply the 'hard line' on him if I could. That is the first, gut reaction. However because of the way things are with him, emotionally challenged and deeply oppositional, this has had to be exchanged with a more collaborative approach. Although now the freedom has been given it is very hard to take it back. The police and social work are the next walls keeping him 'safe' now.

I appreciate the accounts if people having used drugs throughout teen years and are now as well functioning as anyone. It gives me hope. But I still worry about my boy and want to do whatever I can to make sure he doesn't go down the road of becoming an 'addict'.

I'm educating myself online in regards how to not enable drug use, but still be there for him. I have arranged a meeting with a teen drug counsellor (for me) and waiting for response from local Drug and Alcohol services.

Ifiwasabadger Sun 14-Feb-16 18:22:41

I was a complete mdma hound aged 18-21 when at university. I continued on and off through my twenties and thirties. For my peers and I, it was a social drug, we had a lot of fun, it never led to anything more. I'm now 40, run my own business, earning more than 130k a year, as are all the rave kids I partied with, it doesn't necessarily mean the worst, although I can completely understand your stress and worry.

Alvah Sun 14-Feb-16 18:28:08

Branleuse, thanks for reassurance about peanuts. I hope you are right!

I don't know too much about drugs. As my friends never went beyond weed when I was there. I've always been scared of drugs, I thought they would blow my mind and I'd loose it...

The SEN I would have diagnosed him with would be Opposition Defiance Disorder and definitely anger issues. I think I was too negative towards him as a toddler and onwards, as he's always been a but 'naughty'. And I don't think that helped. His dad is also very oppositional towards authority and has anger issues, hence we had to leave him. DS settled much better after we moved away from dad.

Maybe he has ADHD...it might help him if he had a diagnosis. I wonder if that would encourage him to see CAMHS.

Branleuse Sun 14-Feb-16 18:33:00

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/08/is-ecstasy-really-that-dangerous-all-your-questions-answered

ODD is closely linked to ADHD and high functioning autism etc. The reason I mentioned it is because a lot of undiagnosed people end up self medicating with stimulant drugs and/or engaging in thrill seeking risky behaviour.

tangerinesarenottheonlyfruit Sun 14-Feb-16 18:34:21

I hope this is not too direct, but you are pushing him away.

He's taking MDMA, which he probably knows is statistically safer than alcohol. He probably resents you for shopping his mates.

He's certainly not going to be honest with you if he does mess up by getting into addictive drugs if the first thing you do is call the police.

In his shoes I'd move out asap, sorry. I'd certainly make sure I never confided in you about drugs again.

I understand you are afraid of him becoming an addict, but as a mother, the best thing you can do to stop that is open up communication not shut it down IMO.

Educate yourself about MDMA, instead of condemning him out of hand. What do you know about it?

How dangerous is it exactly? Have you researched it at all? What are the risks?

tangerinesarenottheonlyfruit Sun 14-Feb-16 18:35:14

"he's not an independent thinker if he follows his druggie mates, sheep-like"

What nonsense! Do you say that about everyone who drinks alcohol? Or goes to university even (as "everyone" does it) or gets a job?

It's sensational rubbish like this that makes teenagers think the adults around them don't know what they are talking about.

MissingLynx Sun 14-Feb-16 18:45:33

I understand how hard the situation is.

My twin DSD started taking drugs at 13, it was only weed at first then they went on to the legal high stuff, they looked like little smack heads and would do anything to get there hands on the stuff, including selling anything we bought them, stealing off us and there siblings, we had them arrested multiple times, SS wouldnt do anything because they were coming in on time, just before there 15th birthday they were full on drug addicts, we couldnt do anything and it was affecting the younger children, we stopped there money, grounded them, spoke to the parents of the kids that they hung around with, locked them in the house, nothing we tried worked, there now both in secure residential homes in the middle of nowhere, there not allowed to do anything without supervision, we have contact twice a month for 3 hours, there much better people now but i hate that it came to that, it was the hardest thing ever to do.

When there like that they dont care who they hurt or what they do.

You need to get all the help and support you can, dont let them fob you off.

Stop all his money, only buy him stuff thats not worth selling, keep him in the house if you can, look for local drug support groups.

I hope he sees sense and you dont end up in the same position as us flowers

tangerinesarenottheonlyfruit Sun 14-Feb-16 18:52:21

Alvah did you know, for example, that there are many medical professionals who would like to be able to administer MDMA for therapeutic purposes - couples therapy in particular, as it lets users feel more in touch with other people and their emotions.

It's possible, as well as enjoying it (as it can be very fun) your DS is self-medicating.

This article may be interesting to you.

I am not saying "Hey, MDMA is great, let him go take as much as he likes" I can see that's unlikely to happen!

But I am saying, take a deep breath, don't be so scared, it's MDMA not crack. Find out what it is your DS is up to and learn about it, don't make decisions from a point of ignorance and fear.

If the drugs we know were invented now, it's almost certain alcohol and tobacco would be banned, but there's little evidence for banning MDMA on medical grounds, it's relatively safe compared to the horrors of heroin and crack, that most certainly are not.

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