How Do I Confront My Child About His or Her Drug Use?
If you have just discovered that your son or daughter is using drugs, you may feel overwhelmed and not know what to do next. Now is the time to stay calm and prepare yourself for a conversation with your child.
If you have a spouse or partner, start by speaking to them. It is best if you can come to an agreement and present a united front. Keep in mind that your child may well accuse you of hypocrisy if they know (or ask whether) you have used drugs in the past. If there is addiction in the family, do not deny it. You can use it as a way to remind your child of their vulnerability to substance use disorder.
Furthermore, you should expect the conversation to be uncomfortable and for your child to potentially react with anger; if you prepare beforehand to stay calm, you are more likely to achieve an effective outcome. It can also be useful to gather any evidence you have for your son or daughter’s substance use. While you may not want to go through your child’s belongings, remember you are doing so because you want them to stay safe and healthy. Finally, set a realistic goal for the conversation and be clear about the rules you want to set and the consequences of breaking them.
Of course, after preparing for a conversation, you may be wondering how to talk to your child about this complex and emotional topic. The first step is to make sure the conditions are right. For example, waiting until they are not using any substances, avoiding interruptions, and trying to put aside fear and anxiety can really help your conversation to be more productive.
Once you’re talking, there are some useful communication tips to keep in mind. Stay on topic, try not to overreact or seem angry, and empathize with how they feel. Throughout the discussion, ensure your kid knows how much you care about them, remind them that you will support them, and thank them for being honest and talking with you.
If they do not want to talk, or deny they are using substances, be clear about the behavior you would like to see, bring up any evidence you might have for their alcohol or drug use, and impress upon them how important it is to be honest. However, no matter the outcome of the conversation, make sure you keep communicating with your child by following up on the rules you have set and sitting down again to reflect on the subject with your son or daughter.