Your Child and Drugs

Five Issues to Consider When it Comes to Your Child and Drugs

By Tom Horvath, PhD., ABPP

1) Experimentation with drugs/alcohol is common, and not necessarily bad in itself (depending on the values in your family). It would be unwise to have the same level of emotional response to alcohol use as you would have to heroin or cocaine use.

2) Harmful drug use shows up in many different ways. Changes in any domain of life are worth investigating. Pay attention to: School performance, health and health habits, personal hygiene, sleep habits, weight changes, attitude, appearance, appearance of your child’s room, friends, activity level, emotional changes, etc. Furthermore, what is your intuition about recent changes? You know your child better than anyone.

3) Start by talking with your child. If you don’t talk regularly, start talking by noticing positive aspects of your child’s behavior. If you are not sure how to begin a positive conversation, or are too upset to do so, read about parenting or seek professional help.

4) Whatever age your child is, begin drug prevention NOW. All human beings protect themselves from falling into addiction problems by leading meaningful lives according to their own deepest values. What are you doing to help your child lead a meaningful life?

5) If you decide to seek professional help, focus on getting family therapy as well as individual sessions for your child. Rehab (residential treatment) is unlikely to be needed, and has risks associated with it.