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Caught my 14 year old son smoking cannabis again

(39 Posts)
supersec Mon 18-Jan-10 10:45:36

I posted on here a few months ago that I found out my son had been smoking cannabis. My husband had a word with him and he was completely honest and had a good chat with his dad and said he wouldn't do it again and there weren't any major punishments.

He didn't come home when he was supposed to on one of the coldest and snowiest nights before Christmas - he was wandering the streets with two friends and he reeked of the stuff.

We grounded him for a month and took his phone off him.

I've been looking at old posts on mumsnet re cannabis and the general opinion seems to be "Oh they all do it, it's a phase and it will pass".

The problem is I've got a relative who is a heroin addict and he started off with cannabis at age 12/13.

I can't have anything but a zero tolerance approach when I have seen everything he and his family have been through.

I'm sure most of these people who say don't worry about it's normal have not had personal experience of serious drug addiction.

I never took drugs of any kind when I was younger as I just wasn't interested so my only experience is my relative and it's just not acceptable to have my 14 year old son coming home reeking of cannabis.

I really don't know what to do. I seem to recall that Custy reckons what will be will be regardless of how lenient or strict you are with your kids on this issue.

All music he listens to has drugs related references in it but I suppose a lot does these days and it just glamourises it.

bidibidi Mon 18-Jan-10 13:18:28

Well I think all heroin/crystal meth/crack addicts start with something softer, generally nicotine or alcohol in fact... you don't exactly start out by thinking "Of all the possible drugs I'll begin with something really strong and addictive" -- it's always something that gets built up to.

But that doesn't mean that every person who tries cannabis will end up truly abusing drugs -- actually I think it's fair to say vast majority won't progress anywhere that far.

If Custy is right, then you may as well go for zero tolerance because at least then you can feel confident in yourself that you did nothing to facilitate what you see as a totally unacceptable habit.

Does he know that you want to take a zero tolerance approach now -- have you actually told him that?

I have close relatives with severe history of drug/alcohol abuse, btw, but I also dabbled myself and never got dependent. It's a kind of lottery, I guess.

3littlefrogs Mon 18-Jan-10 13:24:06

Where is he getting the money to buy it, and from whom is he buying it?

I have been through this and I think zero tolerance is the way to go. Lots of Mnetters think cannabis is fine, but those of us whose childrens' lives who have been wrecked or almost wrecked by it think otherwise.

He is 14. You need to control his money and you need to find out who is supplying him. Then you need to communicate with the parents of his smoking buddies.

If he doesn't come home when he is supposed to, there have to be sanctions. If you don't get control now, you haven't a hope of being in control when he is 17, which is the worst age IME.

3littlefrogs Mon 18-Jan-10 13:26:16

The thing about cannabis and young lads is not so much the risk of stonger drugs, but the fact that they lose interest in everything else, they drop out of school, they have no motivation or volition to do anything other than sit about smoking.

No education.
No motivation
No employment prospects
No life.

I have seen it so many times. It is tragic.

Comewhinewithme Mon 18-Jan-10 13:32:50

It would be zero tolerance here too. My ds is 12 and the thought of it scares me.
People think it is harmless I have seen it wreck lives and relationships and the affect of smoking this shit last for years.
It is a disgusting dangerous drug I hate it so much.
I would do as others have suggested and contact his friends parents I would also have a chat with a PCSO and see if they might have a chat with him.

Comewhinewithme Mon 18-Jan-10 13:33:29

Sorry for crappy post hit post rather than preview blush.

TheArsenicCupCake Mon 18-Jan-10 13:36:15

this maybe a bit out of the box thinking, but I have a 14 year old DS..he happens to do Judo... which he loves...and so do I. It gives him something to do, a place to hang about with his mates and get away from me, it is quite a cool thing to do ( as are other martial arts), they seem to get quite into getting to the next grade/ entering comps, they are with more desirable type peers on the whole etc etc.. and at the comps they happen to drug test!

wonder if this might appeal to your ds?

other than that I don't know what to suggest other than I agree with you with the zero tollerence.

supersec Mon 18-Jan-10 13:41:44

He knows its zero tolerance now. A friend even suggested buying a drug testing kit. I don't know how accurate these are but they sell them on ebay.

I've just read something else on a previous post dating back a couple of years - a parent said - they all do it, as long as it doesn't interfere with their schoolwork and as long as they don't do it during the week, just tolerate it and let them do it socially at weekends. How ridiculous is that!!

I don't think they need that much money to buy it - I get the impression kids who dabble share it and I'm guessing it only costs a couple of pounds each.

The month ban is now up and he has got his phone back which bothered him immensely.

He also lies about who he is with so apart from two I don't know which boys he is doing it with. I've phoned one boy's grandad anonymously this morning and I'm calling round tonight to see his friend's mum who I don't know that well. I'd rather speak to her on the phone but can't find her number.

I suppose he could get his hands on anything if he was hellbent on doing it. I'm now worried he might try something else that doesn't smell.

3littlefrogs Mon 18-Jan-10 13:45:09

So he is lying to you? That isn't good...

I would find your local police officer get him to talk to your ds.

supersec Mon 18-Jan-10 14:06:38

Hi Arsenicupcake

He is at the age (or mindset) where he thinks anything like that is nerdy. He is into his music (guitars and drums) and that's it.

I would love it if he had more interests but I've tried to no avail.

Comewhinewithme Mon 18-Jan-10 14:10:15

Take his music off him refuse to allow him to access his stereo/ipod if grounding and witholding his phone dosen't work.

bidibidi Mon 18-Jan-10 14:11:55

Could you ground him, supersec?

Cunning, 3littlefrogs, about the money side. Cannabis is pretty pricey now, actually (huge amount more than when I were a stoner 30 yrs ago blush.)

ArsenicCupCake made a good point -- the sex Ed lady told us that the kids least likely to dabble in sex too early were the kids who had aspirations and lots of interests; the higher their expectations and hopes, the less likely they were to do anything to risk losing all that.

AnyFucker Mon 18-Jan-10 14:14:52

it is zero tolerance in this house too (for that age)

far too young to expect a 14 yo to resist the peer pressure and be able to moderate what he is doing

I would forgive one lapse, but not tolerate any further ones

Severe sanctions are required here I'm afraid

cut off money, time and priveliges immediately and he would have to earn your trust to get them back

maryz Wed 20-Jan-10 15:59:24

Don't ignore it, don't listen to people who say it doesn't do any harm. It may be pretty harmless for older people who smoke the odd joint at home, but it has devastating consequences for teenagers, as I know to my cost. My son has gone from a high achieving sport mad successful kid to a zombie over the last couple of years. He is also beginning to have psychotic episodes, and suffers badly from depression. He doesn't go to school, has lost all his friends and his whole pre-drug life. He is just 16.

You can get drug testing kits on the internet which are accurate, but the children will tell each other how to void the results. Cannabis is cheap, and they share it, but the worst is that they will be given it by dealers, and told to pay next week, or if they can't pay then they start distributing it to their friends to get a supply. It can get out of hand very quickly, so sometimes stopping money doesn't work either.

Be careful about taking away his music, if that is the only thing he does, or he will have more excuse to take it.

In my opinion a good fright is the only thing that works. If you could get the police to catch him, maybe leave him in the police station for a couple of hours, take him to see some homeless people, I don't know. I think the facilities are better in England than here.

The one thing you mustn't do is ignore it - it might just fizzle out for some kids, but if your son has been doing it for a while and is hanging with others who smoke regularly, it probably won't just fizzle out. And for some it has lethal consequences - ds's best friend hung himself at the age of just 15.

supersec Fri 22-Jan-10 10:35:32

I have bought some drug testing kits. How can they be voided?

maryz Sat 23-Jan-10 22:37:20

I am not sure what they do, but I know that ds voluntarily gave us some "negative" samples when he was using. I think the addition of possibly alcohol, or maybe some dilution gives a false negative. In our case we never forced him to test (we couldn't have) but he volunteered for a while, I think to give himself a reason to stay off it. When he went back to using, he continued to volunteer samples for a while, until it became a farce obvious to all of us.

Just producing the kit (and seeing the look on his face) will give you a good idea whether or not he is using cannabis regularly! You probably can't stop him doing it, but at least he will know you know!

supersec Tue 16-Feb-10 13:53:05

Just after my last post things went from bad to worse. I spoke to community police who told me one of the lads he was hanging round with was a real bad lot and had been in trouble with the Police.

The very next day my son was caught with three boys (including the one above, who was in possession of cannabis). My son gave false details but by coincidence it was the same CPO I had spoken to the day before so he came to the house.

Two days after this my son was excluded from school for 3 days - a girl had been caught smoking cannabis on the premises and she told on everyone else who had done it that week.

I have since found that some pupils are smoking it before, during and after school.

My son was grounded for 3 weeks and had his phone taken off him. He went back to school after the exclusion with an extremely bad attitude and continued like this for a week to the point where we thought he would be expelled.

Things have calmed down, he was back to his normal self and we allowed him out at the weekend and gave him £10 to go to the cinema. He was gone 5 hours and came back with his pupils dilated. I knew straightaway. He denied it but I said I wasn't going to even bother using the test kits as I knew by his eyes.

He then said I couldn't prove it and then 2 days later he admitted an older boy had let him have a few drags. I don't even believe this and until he can prove otherwise I suspect he bought it.

We are now at the stage where he can't have ANY money at all.

The school suggested counselling which I son thinks is rubbish. I have phoned Frank and they said they can't say if is addicted to it but if it is affecting his eduction, his relationship with his family and is stopping his life (no money) then there is a problem.

I phoned the counselling agency (which works only with the child and not the parents) and they said if he has gone 3 weeks without it he is definitely not addicted. They say they see a lot worse and I am imposing all the right sanctions.

They said the problem is if he is hanging around with people who smoke it he will again at some point in the future. They don't tell kids to say no otherwise they say they would never come back to the agency.

The lady I spoke to said the majority will learn from their mistakes if they end up having no life like my son and a small minority will get worse and have a problem with it.

Apart from extreme zero tolerance and giving him not one penny I can't see what else I can do.

supersec Tue 16-Feb-10 13:59:54

Forgot to mention I found a dealer's name on his phone and told him to delete it. Have forwarded it to Police.

I texted his friend to say he won't have any money in future to buy and he responded by saying my son introduced him to cannabis.

I have even found out there is a dealer in school whose name I have. I have sent details to a councillor who is a governor, the head and an inspector at local police station.

For all I know he is one of many.

twentyoneagain Tue 16-Feb-10 18:26:26

Supersec - I didn't see this first time around but have just read through. I don't have any experience to offer you but I do have two teenage daughters. We all have to be vigilant and I feel for you so very much, you must be so worried.

I do agree with the others who advise zero tolerance, that is the way I would go, and I think you are to be admired for what you have done this far.

The problem is the lies. You want to be able to trust them but when they betray that trust, it makes things very difficult.

I hope you have the strength to do what you believe to be right. He will thank you for it one day.

mojomama Tue 16-Feb-10 18:47:11

just a thought (from a youth-worker well used to this situation and worse) - i think you've done basically everything you can: just being the kind of parent you obviously are (loving, concerned etc) is great, espec compared to a lot of very disinterested/condoning types i've seen.

the problem i see is that you're at a junction - time to try and replace the buzz he's getting out of the weed/group he's hanging around with, before you completely pit yourself against it/them and create the ol' Us and Them scenario. FWIW, the testing thing sounds like a classic way to encourage a negative reaction to you when you're trying to do what's in his best interests. do you really want to go head-to-head with him? some softly-softly may work better alongside your (frankly reasonable) zero-tolerance stance. be careful not to make him feel 'de-humanised' - it may just strengthen his rebellion on this issue.

you mentioned your son likes music - does he play? could you get him an instrument/lessons? could be a way into something positive like a band/making music at a local youth club/studio? just a thought...i've seen many young people cross this juncture and walk away unscathed when given options that are appealing and creative (might be worth seeing what Youth Services via the local council Youth Team offer). good luck.

supersec Tue 16-Feb-10 20:46:33

I really don't see how I can go softly softly when his education this last 6 months has gone completely down the pan (first GCSE year - his targets were As and Bs and he's got Ds and an F), he's been truanting (even if for just odd lessons - and always getting caught), he's been excluded from school for 3 days and we've had the Police at the door when one of his friends was caught for possession. Add to this the constant lying (he is a pathological liar anyway - he can't help himself and it started when he was around 11 when he had nothing to hide)

What am I to do - let him have a treat on birthdays and Christmas etc and let him smoke cannabis?

I can imagine lots of teenagers smoke cannabis socially without their parents knowing but it doesn't lead to all of the above. If all this has happened to him in a few weeks shouldn't he realise it's not good for him and could wreck his life.

He was never the most well motivated child at school anyway even before dabbling in cannabis. If he was allowed to continue to smoke it he would amount to nothing. I always used to be worried about cannabis leading onto harder drugs but I now realise cannabis itself wrecks lives in that it leads to demotivational syndrome in a lot of young males.

He is absolutely mad about music - knows everything about it - he plays guitar extremely well but has never played outside his bedroom. He has lessons every week and I keep on saying he should join a band but the people he is hanging round with are not into music. His music teacher has also recommended he join the school band.

If I don't go the zero tolerance approach what approach is there? Condone it and let him wreck his life?

bluetits Tue 16-Feb-10 20:56:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

maryz Wed 17-Feb-10 10:59:42

I really sympathise with you as we are in exactly the same position with ds. He is now 16 and it is a miracle he is not in jail, or hasn't come to any great harm.

I don't know the answers - I think if I had known two years ago where we would be now I would have packed up and left the country. Where I would have gone I don't know.

ds smokes dope like other people have cups of coffee - anytime, anywhere. It is NOT like having a joint on a Saturday night.

Counselling is the answer, but if anyone can tell me how to make a teenager go, I would love to hear it sad. I think ds will have to hit rock bottom (i.e. we will have to throw him out, he will have to go to jail or be homeless for a while) before he realises what he has done to his life.

Cannabis also makes them paranoid, so anyone trying to help is seen as interfering, trying to ruin their "fun" etc.

One thing, though. zero tolerance may be a good idea - you can search him and his room, you can act the jailer and the policeman, but you are unlikely to control what he does outside. Us doing that to ds has irretrievably ruined our relationship with him. He lives in this house because he has no alternative, but he doesn't talk to us (and I mean at all - a couple of monosyllables is a good day), he doesn't eat with us - makes his own food and eats by himself, is open about how he hates and resents both us and his siblings. He has spent time sleeping rough, but comes back when the police bring him.

When we stopped money ds started dealing - not major making money (he isn't even a good drug dealer, because he hasn't got the guts to make people pay!), but running, delivering, going in cars to pick-ups etc. It was a lot worse then. Now we give him a little money, and things are a little better. He has also been excluded from school but we have just (after 6 months doing nothing) got him on a youth training scheme which also gives him a little money. So now he can feed his own habit.

maryz Wed 17-Feb-10 11:08:25

Sorry I should have read that before I posted it. It is really too depressing. For what it is worth I have two suggestions:

Firstly try not to focus on the drugs - try to get him interested in something, anything, else. We have failed in this, so ds has NOTHING other than cannabis to make him "enjoy" life, and no friends outside the dope-head world.

Secondly, is there ANY adult he relates to. Can you find a teacher, uncle, friend of a friend, friend's father, who would take an interest and be on his side. Again we have failed with this. At one stage my brother took this role and things were looking good, but unfortunately he lives too far away and ds got worse between his visits.

supersec Thu 18-Feb-10 10:37:09

Thanks maryz, any contributions are helpful. When I read about your son it terrifies me. The counsellor I spoke to said this only happens to a small minority of users.

I really don't think there is any friend or relative who could act as a mentor - I would imagine they would have to be cool and groovy and dabbled in a lot of drugs and come out the right side before he would take any interest in them.

What you and mojomama said about getting him interested in something is a really positive idea. Like I said he is mad into his music but most of his friends aren't and he would be embarrassed I think to bring his guitar into school. I am going to have to do some ringing around. He has a music teacher who has a band but I really don't know how they get involved in these things.

I might even ring his music teacher but he is only in his early 20's and this might be overstepping the mark.

The thing is he never went out with his friends that much. Of the people who he has smoked cannabis with I would say only one is a true longstanding friend, the others are all more like acqaintances. He never brings anyone near the house and doesn't even text anyone apart from his girlfriend (who is very nice and is against cannabis use).

The most worrying thing for me is that he would smoke it before school (this would probably be his only chance) and then I wouldn't know. I have been told they all gather in an alley at the back of school and some smoke cigarettes and some smoke cannabis. The school I have been told can do nothing about this, only the Police can.

The frustrating thing is (apart from a few aggressive, bordering on violent outbursts when we have taken his phone off him and had to lock all the doors so he couldn't get out)he is as nice as pie. He will mostly do anything we ask him, he asks us how our days went at work and talks about concerts, bands with us. He even wants me there at the hairdressers when he goes. So I don't think he hates us at the moment.

I might sit down at the Frank website with him tonight and check that he knows everything about cannabis.

I shudder to think how may are getting away with smoking it and their parents won't have a clue. Especially if they are going to sleepovers.

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