smoking and 13 year old ds

(61 Posts)

I caught him smoking, in his room angry. I went nuts (as you would) he started crying and when we we both calmed down we had a talk about why he was doing it.

It turns out he has been smoking for a while and a lot of his mates smoke, Ive put consequences in, grounding, given him a lecture about how dangerous it is

He was very honest with me and said he feels anxious and stressed a lot (he has asd and adhd) and his relationship with his dad has hit an all time low and he is very upset about that. He has problems at school which are not helped by the schools attitude and lack of support and ds says smoking helps calm him down sad

I can't be angry with him, I just can't. I'm disapointed and upset that he has started to smoke but he has been through so much. He has struggled to accept his diagnosis of asd and its either his way or the highway.

All I can do is put in boundaries around the smoking, he never ever does it in front of me or the other dc, I will not be providing him with money to smoke and just hope he sees the light.

So come on I'm a fool aren't I? But Ive been through so much with ds, violence, aggression, truanting, asd diagnosis and so on that I just can't get worked up about the smoking (although it worries me yes) and he's only 13.


Maryz Mon 06-May-13 08:24:55

I can't tell you how to stop him, but this rings alarm bells for me.

ds started smoking at 12/13 - he has Asperger's and says he started because it helped calm his anxiety hmm. He very swiftly moved on to cannabis and other forms of self-medication and has struggled with addiction since.

Don't underestimate the damage cannabis can do, and don't underestimate the chances of a smoker trying dope - it is rife in most teenage groups at the moment.

Looking back, I wish I had insisted the doctor took ds more seriously and prescribed him an anxiolytic/antidepressants. They don't like medicating children - but in my case ds medicating himself caused and is still causing a lot of damage.

Put simply, if smoking makes your son feel more able to manage life, why wouldn't he smoke? And unless you keep him locked up you probably can't stop him. So maybe you need to be proactive and offer an alternative?

I will probably be slated for this opinion, but that's how I feel.

I agree with Maryz. In reality you will not be able to stop him. They will always find a way.

Go to a gp appointment yourself to explain and then take ds along another time.

In the meantime the electronic cigarettes really are a good alternative. Would he try that and see how it goes?

AngryFeet Mon 06-May-13 08:32:57

Smoking is a stimulant not a depressant so will actually be making things worse not better.

travellingwilbury Mon 06-May-13 08:33:45

Would getting the Dr to explain the facts of smoking to hin help do you think ? It dies not help you to relax that is just not true . if anything it raises your heartbeat and makes you more anxious because you are always worrying about how you are going to get the next one .

I say this as a recent ex smoker by the way and I loved smoking , but most of the reasoning we give ourselves are easily dissproved .

Self medicating in whatever way at 13 is never going to be a good idea really .

Nehru Mon 06-May-13 08:34:53

Be bloody scary. Not understanding.
My s1 tried it. I read the riot act and told him all money would stop sharp ish.

travellingwilbury Mon 06-May-13 08:36:39

I would also think about why he was smoking in his bedroom , to my mind that is the action of someone who wants to be caught .

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 08:39:48

He will know the facts and dangers of smoking. It is driven into them at school, at home, everywhere.

Teenagers live in the day, they don't worry that they might die at 70 from lung cancer. And autistic teenagers live even more in the moment than most teenagers.

If he thinks smoking makes him less anxious, then unfortunately it will, if that makes sense. It's like the teenager girls who smoke because they think it helps them lose weight. Facts, warnings, threats etc will have little affect. You need to offer him an alternative way of calming himself - whether it be medication, or meditation, or yoga, or exercise. Something that he believes helps to calm him.

Branleuse Mon 06-May-13 08:41:26

how on earth can he afford smoking at 13.
its not like you can get 10 for a quid anymore like when I was at school.

travellingwilbury Mon 06-May-13 08:43:37

Fair point , I suppose its the same as telling a self harmer that cutting can't possibly be helping them cope when clearly to them it is .

I am dreading the teenage years ,

No but you don't have to buy a whole packet either. Friends will put in together.

As a smoker I can tell you that if it was as simple as knowing the medical facts I would have given up years ago. It's not that easy.

It may raise your heart rate but it is the psychological effect that is calming. It overrides a raised heart rate.

He needs an alternative and you need to work with him to discover what works for him.

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 08:46:51

They buy packets and split them.

They cadge them from strangers at bus stops.

They sell xbox games to their friends.

They (when they move on to cannabis) do a bit of wheeling and dealing, and then stealing.

If kids are desperate enough (and unfortunately ime many kids with ASD and ADHD do get desperate), they can always get money. Keeping them short of money doesn't actually stop them doing anything, even though their parents think it will.

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 08:48:53

I'm really sorry to sound so negative Ghosts. Hopefully you clamping down will be enough to stop him smile

But just bear in mind that if he is smoking not for fun, or to be cool, but because he believes he has to, then another approach will be much more effective in the end. Letting him know you believe him and understand that he thinks it helps, and offering him another way to calm himself will be more effective than just punishing or telling him not to do it, iyswim.

noddyholder Mon 06-May-13 08:55:39

My ds is much older 18 and 90% of his mates male and female smoke. Even parents I know who think theirs don't are wrong! My ds smokes v little but his best mate smokes like a trooper and parents health nuts It's a hard one easier to control pre 16

All of the boys in DS1's year who started smoking cigarettes at school moved on to weed by the age of 16.

A boy in DS2's year lives near us. He has always been a difficult child. He started smoking at 13 (DS talks to him and tells me all about it). Now he is 15 and heavily into drugs.

The two did not used to go together when I was that age in the 1970s but in my limited experience in a rural area they most certainly do now. I am sorry this isn't very helpful OP but I fear you do need to get worked up about smoking.

flow4 Mon 06-May-13 09:38:54

My DS1 (18) has been smoking since he was 12. sad Like noddy's son, the vast majority of his mates do too. There is almost always someone with a spare fiver (perhaps from a parent who offered to pay for a kebab) and that's enough to buy a pouch of tobacco and some papers, and let a whole gang of them smoke that evening. Or someone has a smoking parent who's carelessly left their cigs/baccy lying around...

Unfortunately, once they're hooked, cigarettes do have a calming effect. But that's because nicotine only stays in the body a very short time, and withdrawal starts after mere hours - so anxiety and restlessness are withdrawal symptoms that the nicotine then eases.

Plus of course teenagers often feel adulthood control their whole lives, and one of the appeals of smoking is that adults disapprove, don't know or can't stop it.

I'd say the best chance you have, Ghosts, is to get your DS very involved in hobbies that prevent him from smoking. If he loves something that isn't compatible with smoking, that may motivate him to stop. Sport and physical exercise are obviously good, cos they require you to breathe. They also help with underlying anxiety, stress and depression. smile Anything you need your hands for is also good. Or looking after animals...

You might find your son's ASD actually works in your favour here... My friend's AS DS became passionately anti-smoking after he researched and memorised the full content of cigarettes, their chemicals and effects! He was especially disgusted to discover there's tar in cigs, and that it is also used on roads!

cheeseandpineapple Mon 06-May-13 09:40:27

Wise words from Maryz.

flow4 Mon 06-May-13 09:41:25

adulthood *adults !

You might not be able to control the smoking, but this is an opportunity to help and support him with the stress and anxiety he has described.

I would make an appt with the GP (write all the concerns down before you go) and ask for a referral to CAMHS.

It may be that CBT can help him.

Nehru Mon 06-May-13 09:45:40

just stop giving him money fgs

Thank you all for your replies. I honestly thought I would get a roasting smile

He smokes tobacco. A small pouch which costs 3-4 pounds will last him a week or two, where he gets it from is another matter. He used to buy them off his friends who also smoke, 50 p a rollie or something like that and now an older boy in year 11 who looks 18 will buy them for him angry

yes I think he did want to get caught. He did say to me that he had wanted me to find out for weeks and was too scared to tell me which is why he lit up so I would smell it and go rushing in. His logic baffles me at times!

Maryz no you are not negative and I find what you're saying makes perfect sense. It frightens me to death about him moving on to cannabis and even worse and he is the type of child who will go down that route. I will take him to the doctors and I really think he needs councilling unfortunately the school are not cooperating and keep fobbing me off, Ive asked for appointments with the senco only to be told she is out of the office, will ring but never does or is too busy.

The issues with his dad have really really upset him and his dad does not have a clue about how to talk to him. We are sep
separated but are very civil and he has a lot to do with the kids but he has let them down a lot over the past 6 months due to work, uni and his gf and ss commitments, there is no routine with him and he refuses to acknowledge any part in his sons behaviour instead lecturing him as soon as he sees him, has asked for ds key back to the house he shares with his mum saying that he doesn't want any smoker or badly behaved child in his house (even though ds is respectful there, never smokes inside, will even clear his mess up!)

No I also don't think withholding money would work either because he will get them somehow and stealing would be the next step, he's done it before when I stopped his money

I will talk to him again and try and come up with alternative ways to help him, I will def go to the doctors though that's the first step isn't it. Once he has decided on a particular behaviour its very hard to change his mindset and that's what worries me

Sometimes ds can be the most lovely dc, We spent two hours one night last week with him teaching me and his 10 year old dsis how to use a sewing machine (he learnt in school) and it was a really lovely evening and funny too and then the next day he was caught smoking and skipping lessons in school. I despair.

And how would he get to school nehru? He needs bus money and lunch money! And he would steal to get what he wants, he's done it before

flow4 good point about the hobbies, he does have fads though, scooter one month, bike the next, loses interest in those, I banned his xbox cos of his violent behaviour (which improved) then he starts smoking because he is 'bored as I took his xbox away' argh

Nehru Mon 06-May-13 09:54:29

Bis pass. Packed lunch.
Sorry. Think our parenting styles different here.
I'd not stand for it.

do you have a child with autism and adhd nehru? Or a child with severe mental issues? Its really not that simple

Nehru do you not remember how much friends stick up for each other? They would provide for Ghost's ds whether he had money or not. It makes no difference.

Ghost it is a good sign that he wanted to get caught. He's asking for help in his own way and you have a good oppertunity to help him now. Push the school and your gp. Go to school and kick off if you have to. In the meantime try to keep talking to your ds. Try to keep close.

Nehru Mon 06-May-13 10:03:13

Oh I didn't see he has SN.

shellandkai Mon 06-May-13 10:03:58

Smoking eventually I think would make him feel worse! I've been smoking since I was 15 I'm now 26 the addiction once you start never goes away even when you quit (I've quit twice for 2 years at a time) I have also noticed since smoking again I seem more stressed out so I know it's the smoking making me feel like this and alot of my smoker friends agree!

I will do Theone. I am going to get very cross with the school and the doctor. He's already under camhs but are crap too

noddyholder Mon 06-May-13 10:04:46

I think it is easy to say don't stand for it but in reality with teens it is harder. I am very anti smoking and I think this definitely stuck with ds He was terrified of being caught and so was very restrained in his smoking and he still is very take it or leave it but I think really knowing and controlling what teens do is hard. I have turned up at the skate park unannounced twice in an emergency and I was shocked at all the smokers esp the little ones! I would withdraw money for sure and keep driving home the message but with his SN and age it will be a long road! They do see the light at around 16/17 with most silly teenage things but ime smoking seems to hang around a bit esp with girls.

flow4 Mon 06-May-13 10:06:00

Just to say... I stopped every penny of my DS's money for about 9 months, to try to prevent him smoking and buying other drugs. As a tactic, it failed completely: it made not one bit of difference to that, but he scrounged from friends, sold all his possessions, stopped eating lunch, didn't go to college on days he 'needed' to spend bus fares on tobacco, and took money from me until I started locking it up. It was an utterly miserable time. sad

He's still smoking (tobacco and weed) but he is starting to control his consumption because (a) he now also recognises how awful that time was, and doesn't want to repeat it, and (b) he's on a college course that (usually) motivates him to get up in the morning.

My dad died from lung cancer 6 years ago and it still hasn't deterred him but I suppose that's the addiction isnt it sad

Nehru no worries

Branleuse Mon 06-May-13 10:10:27

I do have a child with SN who is 12 and quite anti smoking at the moment.

Both my ds dad (exh) and my dp smoke though, so i guess realistically this is a possibility

I dont really think its the worst thing they can do, so while i would disapprove, i wouldnt go mental over it. Id tell him i was disappointed and i wouldnt be funding it

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 10:16:05

ds was the most anti-smoking child in the world, until he started sad. He was also the most anti-drugs, the fittest, most athletic teenager I have ever come across. He knew more about health, nutrition and fitness, he was fantastic at three sports.

But the anxiety caused by school (and by the sports to be honest) ate away at him. He was told to smoke to "calm his nerves), and once he started the nicotine withdrawal made him more and more anxious. Thus the search for something more "calming", and the move to cannabis and vallium.

Ghosts, would your son accept medication?

My younger son was diagnosed with ADHD at 14. He immediately asked for medication - having seen how ds1 ended up, he recognised immediately that he might go that way. He has talked to me about the "need" for something, anything to calm his brain, and talked to me about the temptation of cigarettes, drink and drugs.

Because he has seen what happened with ds1 he doesn't want to go that route, so is much more open to counselling, to legal medication, to talking about his problems.

Your son sounds as though he would accept help, so push for it. Is his ADHD medicated? It might be worth considering. Ritalin has made a difference to ds2 - he is on a very low dose so I often wonder is it as much a psychological effect as a physical effect. Either way, it doesn't matter, he is much happier.

As an aside, if they rolling they are even more likely to use cannabis. You just need one of them to have a packet, they put a bit into each rollie and they are away. And once they start cannabis it is very hard to stop them, because of course it really does calm their brains sad

flow4 Mon 06-May-13 10:16:49

I think us parents fail to realise that teenagers smoke because they genuinely feel it is one of the best things in their otherwise shit lives. The trouble with 'cracking down hard' is that you thereby make their lives worse, and increase their motivation to smoke. sad With hindsight, I now strongly believe that the best tactic is to make sure smoking is very definitely not seen as one of the 'best things in life', by helping them find plenty of other things they love. That's easier said than done, but I think it's the approach most likely to succeed.

flow4 that's how I think ds would be if I stopped all his money, I caught him stealing from my purse the last time I withdrew money. I'm glad your ds seems to be coming out the other side though, I am holding on to that thought that ds will come right in the end.

Noddy it astounds me just how much smoking is rife in ds year group, Ive seen them in town, on the street and he tells me who smokes and who doesn't. And a lot of them are kids whose parents are uberstrict, the last kids I would have though are into fags.

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 10:20:26

All of ds2's friends (now 15) are very sporty. And his immediate friends don't smoke. Many of the non-sports-playing boys do, though, as do many of the girls.

Almost all of the girls in dd's year (now 16) do, mostly to "keep their weight down".

noddyholder Mon 06-May-13 10:21:09

Ghosts I agree! I have laughed over the years at the kids of veggies eating burgers at my house and the sons of school councillors selling hash in the park! One mum 'caught' me coming out of McD's one day armed with a load of ice creams and said Oh no my Louis doesn't touch McD I have politicised him on that ( He was in our car awaiting one!)

Maryz my ds was also very anti smoking until he started. He hated it with a passion-until he tried it and saw his mates smoking

He's already on meds for adhd which has been a battle to get him to take those if I'm honest. Its certainly worth a try though even if I have to bribe him with something.

Thank you all again, though, for understanding. You have all given me hope and ways I can move forward with this

Meringue33 Mon 06-May-13 10:22:31

Is it worth getting him a book like the Allen Carr method of giving up smoking (if he says he wants to)?

It worked for me at 25. I think part of the allure for young people is that they think smoking makes them a maverick. I found it much easier to stop when I realised smoking was exactly what "the establishment" wanted me to do and was enriching people like Margaret Thatcher who had shares in BAT.

Appreciate this line of argument may be totally inapt for your son but thought I'd share just in case.

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 10:22:31

And they all know it's bad for them.

Unfortunately they pick and choose which health advice they want to listen to. And many of them pick on the "it's never to late to give up" advice given to older people.

One of ds's friends years ago said to me "it's ok if you smoke at our age, as long as you give up by the time you are 40 your lungs will go back to being healthy - that's what it said in the ad"


Noddy that made me chuckle smile

noddyholder Mon 06-May-13 10:23:17

I was always very dismissive and said yuck to it if I ever found smoking stuff in his clothes. My son is very vain though which I think deters him as I drum in the ageing and teeth rotting aspect!

InNeedOfBrandy Mon 06-May-13 10:24:29

I started smoking around 12/13 gave up last year and end of may will be a year.

Could you buy him the Allan Carr easy way to stop smoking for teens? It's really quite interesting as he explains when you first start smoking it's actually more harder to stop then someone in their 50s who has been smoking for years.

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 10:25:39

Sorry x-posted.

He may be getting old enough to understand the need for the ADHD medication. The doctor ds2 is under was fantastic at explaining why he needs it (a lot to do with accelerators and brakes). ds really bought into the idea.

This might be the time to talk to your son about the fact that nicotine is like a medicine, and the going to the gp and discussing more appropriate medication for his anxiety would be a mature step to take. Also (from a financial point of view) he can get anti-anxiolytics on the NHS, freeing up his smoking money for (insert craze of the moment) grin

I think our dc think they are invincible at their age, I know I did. Its only since I'm in my mid 30's and I've seen my dad die from lung cancer and my friend died 3 weeks ago from the same disease that I realise just how vulnerable we all are

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 10:28:12

Did I ever mention the time ds1 fell off a motorbike and broke his wrist?

He was prescribed difene for the pain, and told to then take nurofen plus or solpadeine.

He refused to take any of them because "you do realise that solpadeine as codeine in it, mum, and codeine is addictive shock".

This from a child who was smoking dope, taking internet vallium, and anything he could get his hands on on a Saturday night


I bet there was no irony from him Maryz.

You'll have to remind him what he said when he's grown up. grin

Maryz Mon 06-May-13 10:30:51

Oh, no. He was perfectly serious [baffled]

Ghost I'm mid thirties and part of me still thinks I'm invincible. It's very hard to get past the idea that it's only something that happens to unknown statistics.

I'm sending you a hug, just because life can be a bit shit sometimes.

flow4 Mon 06-May-13 10:38:07

I'm in my late 40s, and having to come to terms with the fact that I'm not immortal... sad As someone said: "Just as you start getting your head together, your body starts falling apart"!

Inneedofbrandy well done for giving up, my mum has struggled for years to give up and not succeeded so I know its hard. I will have a look at the allan carr book

Maryz their logic is amazing isn't it. I shake my head at some of the things ds comes out with

Thanks Theonewiththehair smile

flow4 dying scares me to death, my body is starting to decline and i'm mid 30's for ffs, I have arthrits starting in my ankles and walking is painful, people have died all round me lately. [cheery soul]

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Mon 06-May-13 10:59:11

Can you bribe him big time? I would absolutely hate for my kids to smoke and would do anything to stop them if they did.
You would have to get him to take it seriously, bribe him with something amazing, get him to fill out a declaration agreeing to be tested for nicotine and see what happens. Carry out a test every month or so. Make sure the bribe is retractable (something like a games system).

It may sound extreme but you could be saving him THOUSANDS of pounds, help reduce his chances of using drugs and, of course, protect his health.

flow4 Mon 06-May-13 11:03:24

Funny you should say that Ghost. I have arthritis too, and walking also hurts me. It has become a dangerous vicious circle, because I've put on a lot of weight cos I avoid walking, and then of course the extra weight puts extra strain on my joints. sad I'm trying a cross-trainer now, which is impact free...

Anyway, that's a bit of a diversion from your OP - except that I think it's especially hard to watch your kids damaging their future health just as you are dealing with the fact that your own is failing. sad

specialsubject Mon 06-May-13 11:44:13

dying of lung cancer won't make any sense to him. At the moment the risk is that he sets the house on fire, so whatever else, you need to ban him from lighting up indoors.

also train him that dog ends and fag ash are litter and need to be crushed out and put in bins.

can he understand what others have said - that nicotine does not calm you down, it simply quells the withdrawal?

hope you can get help with the bigger problems.

wol1968 Tue 07-May-13 16:05:57

Just pointing out that it is actually illegal for under 18's to buy any tobacco products, so you'd be well within your rights to ban them from your house altogether. You might want to discuss the law, and why it's there, with your DS. Round here the police confiscate any booze or fags from under-age teenagers.

Sorry, probably no help at all...

asdfghjkl123 Tue 06-Aug-13 15:10:25

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

foxy6 Tue 06-Aug-13 16:00:02

my ds is 14 and started smoking over a year ago we ha've had lots off discussions about smoking and lots of I've stopped for us to find out he hasn't and last week we found out he has been smoking weed sad . he is currently grounded but unless we lock all doors and Windows he just either sneaks out or storms out sad . I have made a Dr appointment for him to try and get help to sort out his problems. so I would he very cautious with you son and where things might lead.

JulieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 06-Aug-13 18:01:03


We just wanted to make you aware that this is an old thread so you may not get as many responses as you may hope. You're very welcome to start a new thread.


louisejackson Mon 12-Aug-13 11:55:44

My DS aged 15 started smoking last year, he was upfront with me from the start, I explained that I wasn't impressed and we talked about it a great deal. In the end, I did some research (having never smoked more than 10 cigarettes in my life, all at school as a kid) and found that smoking actually does nothing for you, it lowers your endorphin levels when you don't smoke, so that when you do, you feel better, hence the addiction. My son and I talked about this too, he is very mature and understood, he took the decision to quit. I think that this is the ideal parent - son relationship, I have tried treating him like a child in the past ('grounding him' etc.), it doesn't work, he is his own person. Maybe give this a try:

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