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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.

SecondhandRose Tue 29-May-12 20:17:33

To add to the above message my brother has a law degree, extremely intelligent but he only manages to get menial jobs when he has an amazing brain. Mental illness from drugs has taken over his life. He refuses to claim benefits but amazingly manages to keep himself clean and tidy. His possessions are meagre. My Mum puts 200 pounds a month into his account so at least she knows he is eating. She is 81 and he is 47. Please get your children to read this. We are a normal family, he was an exceptional teenager who lost everything.

SecondhandRose Tue 29-May-12 20:09:43

Schizophrenia one word. Has destroyed my brothers life and many others. Teenage dope smoker. He is now 47 and is finding it harder and harder to get casual work due to his age and younger people filling the jobs.

He has no home, never married, no family, wont stay in one place for more than a few months as he is being followed. Cant hold a conversation, is anti social, rants and raves.

This is enough to put anyone off smoking any of that stuff.

MummedOut Mon 28-May-12 17:47:06

Help! Please! Two weeks ago dh and I discovered dd3 was smoking pot. We confronted her when she got home and of course, she gave the expected line - it was just once - I was just experimenting - I am so embarrassed - It will never happen again - blah blah blah.
I asked for her mobile phone - which is actually the family mobile she was using as she was driving the family car! I checked texts etc and found to even greater shock that dd1 - 8yrs older, graduated uni, working in city about 300m away - was aiding and abetting with supply, utensils, tips to cover tracks and assistance deceiving us. Massive bucket of cold water in the face! Terrible tension in the house since. DD2 and 4 still at home - dd2, 22 graduated uni, working locally, living at home; dd4, 14, big adjustment to gcse workoad! I feel as though my family has collapsed around my ears! I was a wahm until started teaching at the local school 9 years ago. dd3 is grounded and i have tried to keep lines of communication open but she is very angry and hostile. She doesn't think it's any big deal! I have since discovered that this has been giong on since last year! She is an excellent student and grades have not fallen off yet but this is her most important year for exams etc. I have since discovered that she has been smoking pot since last year and has put herself in some tricky situations - I cannot believe I am so blind and stupid! We are quite strict and she does not go out during the school week and must be home by 10 on the weekends. I feel I have noone to talk this out with - my own sisters are usually great for advice and tips but not this time, I think. So... Help! Please!

HighBrows Wed 23-May-12 09:10:11

I'm also glad I found this thread, thanks everyone for sharing your stories. It really helps to know that we aren't alone.

My DS is 16 and has been dabbling with drugs (all kinds) since he was around 13. I didn't know until last year. He has cleaned up his act somewhat but is still smoking weed.

It seems to be pandemic, I don't remember it being so widespread when I was a teen - I also dabbled but not to a huge extent.

When the problem came to light last year I brought him to an addiction counsellor. She frightened him but not enough to make him stop.

I also went to see two different types of addiction counsellors and the tips are as follows:

Do not keep a teens drug use quiet - do not be an enabler. I tell people that he takes drugs, I've told all our family and his siblings. My son didn't like this as it made him feel a bit ashamed (not enough to give up).

Keep your teens as safe as possible - give them a place to land.

If at all possible keep them in education - my son is no longer in main stream school but in a school for difficult teens, he seems to be ok in school at the moment.

Be quietly disapproving, let them know you don't want any drugs in or around your house.

Finally, be extremely kind to yourself, this is no ones fault. To blame myself is a fruitless excersise.

It's hard to know what the future holds for my son, some days I'm hopeful that he'll come out the other side, other days I'm not so hopeful but I hang in there. I worry mostly for his mental help, I believe he started using drugs to self medicate to silence those horrible teen angsty voices we all had. For now he eats well, has a safe place to sleep, doesn't have a criminal record and goes to school - that's the best I can hope for.

As parents we'll all get through this and I hope are teens come out the other side as unscathed as possible but it is hard isn't it?!

poohbearrocks Mon 21-May-12 23:03:59

Excellent series (two programmes) on Radio Four. The last one was this evening but you can get them on play again.

hope they help someone - food for thought for me.

<hope no one is looking - hug>

BerniW Wed 18-Apr-12 15:10:53

Sorry to hear about your troubles sameshoetwice. It may be worth investing in some cannabis testing kits. They can be bought relatively easily (and cheaply) online and can detect traces of cannabis in the urine up to 20 days after use.

I bought some a few months back as I feared for my ds2 (16) and his low-life friends - haven't used them yet though. The tests arrived by post the next day (I can't remember the name of the supplier, but there are lots online). I have arrived home on a couple of occasions and smelt something "odd" in the house after he's had friends round. He knows I own the tests and I've told him I will use them if and when I feel I need to - which I haven't since.

If your son knows you will do spot tests whenever you like, it may be enough to make him think twice. Sanctions would have to be put in place if you discover traces from the tests - come down on him like a ton of bricks! This plan of action relies on him being willing to give you a urine sample and him actually saying he's going to stop, of course. Good luck. x

Witco Tue 17-Apr-12 22:40:55

So sorry to hear your story, just one more child lost (temporarily I hope) to weed. I have no answers or magic wand, just empathy.

MIchaelP Tue 17-Apr-12 13:41:58

I'm also glad I've found this thread. I'm the dad of a 14 year old boy who has just been expelled from (private) school for being caught in possession of cannabis. It came out of the blue for us - we had no idea he was involved in cannabis or anything else for that matter. He is an otherwise articulate and bright lad, but has recently been developing many traits which we attributed to being a teenager - becoming withdrawn, secretive, apathetic and often sullen and argumentative.
After he was expelled we discovered from his mobile phone text message history that he had been using and dealing cannabis regularly for about six months. Basically he was smoking and drinking with a group of kids at the park on his way home from school and at weekends when he was on his way to sleepovers. We had naively trusted him and he has only grudgingly admitted what he has been doing.
Now four months on, after much angst and tears, we have moved to a new area and have managed with a lot of difficulty to get him into the local state school. We thought the shock of being expelled - and losing contact with his school friends would have brought home the seriousness of what he had done, but it seems not.
A week ago we found that is back into his old habits, this time through Facebook. He had friended a circle of about ten other kids who are drinking, smoking and using cannabis whenever and wherever they can. He has been trying to buy cannabis for himself and for his mates. When we aksed him about this, there was no remorse, just a shrug of the shoulders and an attitude of 'everyone else is doing it, what's the big deal?". So now the mobile phone has been confiscated, Facebook access blocked and he is 'grounded' until we can decide what to do next. We've tried talking about it with him calmly and trying to get him to discuss what he's doing, but he just goes into denial and shuts down.
Not sure where to go from here. We can't lock him in the house all the time and escort him to and from school every day. So we're just taking one day at a time. We have tried to get him involved in many activities, clubs, music, etc - he just interested, he wants to hang out with his drinking and smoking friends. Any advice welcomed!

sameshoestwice Sun 01-Apr-12 18:55:03

I am so glad to have found this thread, as I have just found a bag of what I now know to be skunk in my nearly-17 year old son's bedroom and wondering what on earth to do.
I've suspected for a while that something was going on - he's not very clever at covering his tracks, but yesterday there was a very powerful smell around in his room and today, as he's at a friend's until much later, I had a look round and found a plastic bag of the stuff in his drawer.
I haven't noticed any difference in his behaviour. He's still his usual affable and good-natured self. He just had a very good school report, and appears to be revising for AS's. He mixes with a similar crowd, all of whom as far as I know, are doing ok academically.
He doesn't have a job and gets £10 a week pocket money from me. I am wondering what this stuff cost, and where he got it.
We can and do talk about things. His father died 3.5 years ago, when my son was just 13, and this brought us extremely close as a family. My daughter is now 20 and doing well at uni. She'll be home tomorrow.
I did talk to him a few weeks ago about dope - without asking directly if he was using it. He said that he didn't think it was risky, nor could lead to hard drugs or psychotic problems 'unless you've already got them'.
Now I don't know what to do. I do leave him on his own overnight sometimes, and have various trips away planned for the next few months. He knows that I trust him not to have parties etc, and so far he has always respected that trust. Now I'm thinking I may never go away again and will have to cancel my plans, which include training for a new career...
I do not want to have a big row, and realise that it's probably going to be impossible to stop him. I have bought him a ticket for a local festival for his birthday (June), so there's a lever there...
There's so much good advice in this thread. BIWI - how are things going now with your son. Can you, or anyone else, offer me any advice?

Witco Tue 27-Mar-12 20:42:20

We finally kicked DS out today. Woke up in the wee hours to the acrid smell of weed & voices downstairs. Went down to find DS and 2 friends smoking dope in the kitchen. It was the last straw so I kicked the friends out & explained to DS that he was showing complete disregard for us by bringing drugs into our home & should pack his bags & go today. So he's gone. What now?

ravenAK Sun 18-Mar-12 03:01:37

Maryz, I do - of course I do. Apart from anything, it's bloody near to impossible to turn around a failing GCSE year once you have lost a load of ground whatever the reason - I've taught KS4 students who've suffered from cancer, had twins, lost a parent, had an elder sibling murdered by a family friend - & I'd say that a dependency on cannabis as a 15-16 year old can mess up your prospects just as much as any of the above.

I can only teach the kids who are physically in front of me, but yes, I do worry about the 'lost boys' - it's disproportionately boys when it comes to dope. Often I've taught them in year 7,8 or 9 & it's horrible to see them fading out of their own lives...

Mrs HP - I'm not saying that no-one who smokes weed goes on to heroin, just that it's perfectly possible to hang around with s mokers, smoke regularly, chip in to buy quantities occasionally, & never have anything to do with 'harder' drugs, simply because there's often a few links in the 'I'm not a dealer, I'm just getting this from some bloke I know for me & my mates' chain before you come close to someone who's actually making a living from drugs.

If anything, I think cannabis does more harm to more young people than Class A substances simply because it has the 'not really taking drugs, it can't be, my mum used to smoke it' reputation it does.

MrsHerculePoirot Tue 13-Mar-12 23:05:03

Sry that meant to say people in the dealing chain who need more customers to fund their habits as they grow and who care less and less about how they do this.

MrsHerculePoirot Tue 13-Mar-12 23:03:23

Well 'spliff' might well be the wrong term, but smoking heroin is big problem whatever you call what it's being smoked from and it is an 'easy' step between what many people see as harmless to something they never imagined they would do (inject).

Of course being groomed for drugs is not necessarily 'usual', but at every stage of the dealing chain you have people. In the lady's story on that link her sons were 'only' smoking dope, others they were with were passing round a heroin joint (whatever it is called) and they asked to try it as they couldn't see that smoking it 'once' could be any worse than smoking dope.

Many teenagers think it's ok to try something once, and they all think addiction won't has own to them. Sadly very many of them are wrong.

Maryz Tue 13-Mar-12 22:53:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ravenAK Tue 13-Mar-12 22:49:05

Ah now that link is a tad misleading.

It's (very) unusual for teenage cannabis users to be 'groomed' to try a heroin 'spliff'.

Quite apart from the fact that heroin doesn't get smoked in spliffs, a far more usual model than 'naive teens being lured by evil dealer' is a group of 'occasional' users buying (often taking it in turns) from someone in a group of 'regular' users who will again be taking it in turns to buy from a dealer.

Of course, that makes the occasional/regular user who is buying for him/herself & their mates...a dealer.

It is endemic in schools, I'd agree, & I hate it, as a teacher, parent, & occasional dope smoker in my youth.

I tend to point out to the students that I teach that I took shedloads of drugs, absolutely, for example, when I shattered my elbow joint or had any of my 3 kids.

'& I've very little idea what happened there for several hours...try that for several weeks/months & watch your less susceptible mates head off to college without you'.

Mostly my year 10s & 11s know the score because a few of their cohort have dropped out, with predictable results...I worry about the year 7s who are still naive enough to think it cool.

flow4 Tue 13-Mar-12 22:34:58

I was talking to a friend this evening about how the culture/norm seems to be changing: kids are now rolling spliffs and smoking them in the street, totally openly, in Manchester and in the village where we live (about 30 miles away from there) - they weren't so brazen about it even a year ago.
It makes me worried, particularly because teenagers also like/need secrets... So if they are smoking skunk openly, what are they doing secretly? MCAT/mephedrone at least, in our area sad sad

Maryz Tue 13-Mar-12 22:27:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Witco Tue 13-Mar-12 22:07:13

That's scary THP but not surprising
, having watched DS struggle over the past year. It's so worrying for us parents

MrsHerculePoirot Tue 13-Mar-12 20:36:19

We had a talk at school to all of our Year 11 and Year 12 students by this lady who has set up this charity here here. She said that the professor at Cambridge that works with children (11 - 16) affected by addition says that the skunk of today, which is modified for the purposes of mass growing indoors, compared to a generation ago is like comparing a glass of water to a pint of vodka in terms of its strength. I don't want to scare you BIWI, but more making the point to those that think smoking a bit of cannibis is OK because they did in in their youth and they were OK is extremely naive.

It was very frightening hearing about how quickly her children made the change from smoking dope to 'trying' a heroin spliff to becoming full blown addicts injecting themselves leading ultimately to the death of one of her children. She spoke very well and very clearly and that link above is to her charity which might be worth contacting if you had any questions or wanted more 'professional' advice.

BIWI Tue 13-Mar-12 20:18:27

thanks, JC777 - will have a look at that later (have to work now sad)

JC777 Tue 13-Mar-12 16:19:12

see this thread

JC777 Tue 13-Mar-12 16:17:32

Suggest you tell dear son that many experts now believe heavy cannabis use leads to psychosis = a life in hell.
Encourage him to research it for himself.
Cannabis is now much, much stronger than a generation ago - we're in new territory.

noteventhebestdrummer Mon 05-Mar-12 19:32:13

That's a good way to look at it I think. In little tiny stages.

When DS was at his worst I made myself NOT think about him half the time because it was so awful. Even numbered hours of the day were times when I just blocked him out of my mind as far as I could. It helped a bit. Meant I also kept things going for youngest DS as much as possible too.

BIWI Sun 04-Mar-12 22:49:54

Thank you!

An update - the weekend seems to have gone well. DS had friends round on Friday night. I had a friend go round and check that they were ok and all was quiet. He didn't go out last night.

I am under no illusions that this is the end of it - and to be honest I really don't know if any drugs were involved this weekend, but at least we were able to go away and leave him.

So far, so manageable.

Delicateflowermum Sun 04-Mar-12 22:39:42

BIWI, you are doing everything soooo well smile
The mums on here sure have some excellent ideas.

IMO, Congratulate yourself and take your son out for a celebratory dinner and tell him how proud you are that he is making better choices.

My one regret from our earlier days is that i probably didn't give DS and DD enough acknowledgement of how hard it was for them to resist peer pressure and do what the "uncool" mum says. If i had my time again, i would still have had the big growl and heart-to-heart when i first found out, but then i think i would ignore anything they did away from home and spend more time and energy on spending time with them when they made "good" choices.

Celebrate any successes...

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