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Finding your child is using drugs

Welcome to the first of many (hopefully!) posts on my new blog – ‘Doing Drugs with Paul Dillon’. The title comes from the radio show I did for many years on the national youth radio station – Triple J. Looking back on it, it was a pretty brave thing for them to do and I very much doubt whether we would get away with some of the things that we spoke about way back then …. That said, I hope that readers of the blog find its content useful, and that it provides me an outlet to let off steam occasionally!

It’s going to take me a while to get going so if you happen to start reading this early in the piece and are disappointed that there isn’t a lot here, I hope you will return later and take another look. Over time I’ll try and post items like Opinion Pieces that I have written for newspapers and websites (I’ve put a couple up today), as well as make commentary on news stories of the day (particularly if they really get me angry) and highlight any new research that I find interesting. Of course, there is still my website but hopefully this will ‘value-add’ to that …

Over the weekend I received an email from a mother had recently discovered that her teenage son was smoking cannabis. This was the second time he had been caught and he said he had smoked again as he didn’t get an effect the first time and the approval of his peers was more important to him than how his parents felt. She was seeking advice on how to deal with the issue as she believed that simply yelling at him and confining him to his room was not going to work.

A parent discovering their child is experimenting with drugs is a
pretty frightening experience and unfortunately hardly anybody is prepared
for it. We know that the best way to respond is to take a breath, calm down,
think through the issues and then respond accordingly – this rarely happens!
We just fire off a punishment without really looking to the

The reasons that the young man gave for using cannabis are the
‘normal’ ones and much less worrying than others that could have been provided – “I
use to feel better”, “I use to forget”, etc. This does not mean that there is
not a problem – cannabis is illegal and should anyone get caught using or
have it in their possession there could be life changing consequences! For example, f he
got caught in a school situation there is every chance he could be suspended
or even expelled!

My advice is as for any parenting situation – create
rules and boundaries, make sure consequences are decided upon that will have
an effect, and then follow through … If your child has broken your rules and let you down, they have lost
your trust – there must be consequences for that. Make these short, sharp and
ensure they ‘suit the crime’ – grounding for long periods of time is just
going to cause resentment and not solve anything … Once you have dealt with the breaking of the rules, sit
down and establish new rules around cannabis and then make sure that whatever you
do, you follow through with the punsihments decided upon should he break the
rules again ..

This sounds as though this is ‘simple’ experimentation but
if it continues parents should seek professional help as early as possible.
Remember there are no simple answers, every family is different and what will work for one may not work for another. If you are really concerned contact Family Drug Support (FDS) on 1300 368 186. This is a great organisation primarily made up of volunteers who have experienced first hand the trauma and chaos of having family members who use drugs. They have travelled the same road and will understand and refer you appropraitely.

Looking for information or support services on alcohol or drugs?

If you or a friend or family member needs assistance in this area, Alcohol and Drug Information Services (ADIS) are available in every state and territory. Each of these are each staffed by trained professionals who can help with your query and provide confidential advice or refer you to an appropriate service in your area.

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