What do you do if your teen is doing drugs?

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

Parents are often shocked when they discover that their teen has been taking drugs, and they can be clueless about how to proceed. Teens from all walks of life experiment with drugs for a variety of reasons; these include social pressure, stress and curiosity. Avoid blaming yourself for your child's actions; he needs to feel your love and willingness to help him overcome his addiction as fast as possible.

Confront your child about your suspicions when you are calm and he is sober. Present evidence, such as empty pill containers in his backpack, and share your concerns. Listen to what is going on in his life and try to understand why your teen turned to drugs for comfort. Demonstrate your love by disciplining your teen and establishing clear rules. Brainstorm, together with your teen, about ways to avoid the temptation of drugs in the future. Set up a system of rewards for good behavior and consequences for disobeying the rules. Be attentive to your child's use of free time and keep track of his whereabouts. Don't worry that you are not giving your child space; monitoring and protecting your child is good parenting.


You don't have to handle your teen's addiction alone. His teachers, counselors and coaches are good sources of information and support. In addition, you can seek outside medical help, such as a family physician or a local drug treatment referral center. Often a teen will prefer talking to a certified counselor rather than a family member. Find an appropriate program or support group to help your teen on an ongoing basis. You can also call the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Substance Abuse Treatment for referrals. Depending on the extent of the addiction, treatment options vary from prescription medication to outpatient counseling to full-time residential programs. Be aware that drug addiction is treatable, although it may take several attempts for it to be long-lasting.