In any family, there are critical moments, and one of them comes when you learn your teen-ager is using drugs. Family and adolescence counselor Mike Riera answers a veiwer email on teen drug use.
A viewer wrote in and asked, "I just found out my 15-year-old son smokes pot. What should I do?"
Fifteen is young for this, which is disconcerting. Regular marijuana use at this age can affect brain development as well as social and coping skills.
It may sound scary, but it is pretty easy for kids to experiment with pot and not get caught so this probably isn't his first time. Experts say that when you catch someone, even if he or she swears it was the first time, a better estimate is that it was at least the 20th time.
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It comes down to consequences and support. If there's too strong a consequence, the child will get resentful and won't learn not to do it again. If there's one too little, your kid won't take you seriously.
Support should follow. This is about the search for why he is smoking pot. This means asking a few questions and listening.
It also means that with the consequence in place, you leave your anger and disappointment behind. If your attitude conveys a desire to understand, your son is more likely to open up.
If after a conversation you're still not satisfied, consider a drug assessment - not as a punishment but as a way of getting more information.
To arrange an assessment, call a local community counseling center or hospital for a referral. Your son will meet with a counselor for about an hour. The person will give you an assessment of where your son is along the continuum of drug use, from casual experimentation to addiction.
Use this information with your knowledge of your son to see if it resonates. The counselor will also provide some recommendations to consider, from taking no immediate action to counseling for a few weeks. If the problem is more serious, the counselor may recommend a treatment program.