Drug Awareness for Parents

The Mattapoisett Police Department is dedicated to helping parents and teens overcome the increasingly tough environment when dealing with drugs and alcohol.

Officers are actively involved in the local schools.  The School Resource Officers are available to parents and students and will take the time to help those who have questions or problems.

Signs to Look For

  1. Increase in need for money
  2. Increase secrecy
  3. Loss of personal property (items sold for cash)
  4. New Friendships that don’t fit the norm
  5. Change in eating and sleeping habits
  6. Change in behavior (ie. Violence, lying, betrayal, of trust, apathy)
  7. Sudden loss/gain of weight without cause
  8. Increase on illness/injury

Items to watch for…

  1. Origional or homeade pipes of any kind
  2. Pipes may be made of metal, wood or household items of any kind
  3. Plastic baggies of any size/type
  4. Extra Cash
  5. Valuable items showing up described as belonging to a “friend”
  6. Matches and lighters

What to Do

When you have a suspicion that your teen is “experimenting” with drugs, what do you do?

Get Educated

First, learn as much as you can. Check out some of these websites, for they may be helpful:

Talk to them — Let Them Know You Know

The next thing you can do is sit down and talk with your child. Be sure to have the conversation when you are all calm and have plenty of time. This isn’t an easy task—your feelings may range from anger to guilt that you have “failed” because your kid is using drugs. This isn’t true—by staying involved you can help his/her stop using and make choices that will make a positive difference in his/her life.

Be Specific About Your Concerns

Tell your child what you see and how you feel about it. Be specific about the things you have observed that cause concern. Make it known if you found drug paraphernalia(or empty bottles or cans). Explain exactly how his/her behavior or appearance (bloodshot eyes, different clothing) has changed and why that worries you. Tell his/her that drug and alcohol use is dangerous and it’s your job to keep his/her away from things that put his/her in danger.

Don’t Make Excuses

Although it’s natural for parents to make excuses for their child, you’re not helping him/her if you make excuses when he/she misses school or family functions when you suspect something else is at play. Take the next step: Talk to your child and get more information.

Have this discussion without getting mad or accusing your child of being stupid or bad or an embarrassment to the family. Be firm but loving with your tone and try not to get hooked into an argument. Knowing that kids are naturally private about their lives, try to find out what’s going on in your child’s life. Try not to make the discussion an inquisition; simply try to connect with your teen and find out why he/she may be making bad choices. Find out if friends or others offered your child drugs at a party or school. Did he/she try it just out of curiosity, or did he/she use marijuana or alcohol for some other reason? That alone will be a signal to your child that you care and that you are going to be the parent exercising your rights.

Here are some suggested things to tell your son or daughter:

  • You LOVE him/her, and you are worried that he/she might be using drugs or alcohol.
  • You KNOW that drugs may seem like the thing to do, but doing drugs can have serious consequences.
  • It makes you FEEL worried and concerned about him/her when he/she does drugs.
  • You are there to LISTEN to him/her.
  • You WANT him/her to be a part of the solution.
  • You tell him/her what you WILL do to help him/her.
  • Know that you will have this discussion many, many times. Talking to your kid about drugs and alcohol is not a one-time event.

Be Prepared. Practice What You’ll Say

Be prepared for your teen to deny using drugs. Don’t expect him/her to admit he/she has a problem. Your child will probably get angry and might try to change the subject. Maybe you’ll be confronted with questions about what you did as a kid. If you are asked, it is best, to be honest, and if you can, connect your use to negative consequences. Answering deceptively can cause you to lose credibility with your kids if they ever find out that you’ve lied to them. On the other hand, if you don’t feel comfortable answering the question, you can talk about some specific people you know that have had negative things happen to them as a result of drug and alcohol use. However, if the time comes to talk about it, you can give short, honest answers like these:

“When I was a kid I took drugs because some of my friends did. I wanted to in order to fit in. If I’d known then about the consequences and how they would affect my life, I never would have tried drugs. I’ll do everything I can to help keep you away from them.”

“I drank alcohol and smoked marijuana because I was bored and wanted to take some risks, but I soon found out that I couldn’t control the risks — the loss of trust of my parents and friends. There are much better ways of challenging yourself than doing drugs.”

Act Now

You can begin to more closely monitor your child’s activities. Have a few conversations. Ask: Who? What? Where? When? Reflect with your child on why he/she is using drugs and try to understand the reasons why so that you can help solve the problem. When you get a better idea of the situation, then you can decide next steps. These could include setting new rules and consequences that are reasonable and enforceable — such as a new curfew, no cell phone or computer privileges for a period of time, or less time hanging out with friends. You may want to get them involved in pro-social activities that will keep them busy and help them meet new people.

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