If you think your teenager may be taking drugs

1. Stay calm and gather your evidence.

Search their room when they’re not around. Hiding places are often the pockets of old clothes, under the mattress, a hollowed out book, or taped behind drawers. Research on the internet ‘where to hide drugs.’ And research what help is available for drug users in your area.

2. Plan HOW you’ll challenge your teenager. Then do it.

Practice in front of a mirror.
Then, at a good time, when you’re both calm, tell them “We need to talk! I KNOW you’re using drugs.”
Show them the drugs you found- or what you saw or heard.
If your teenager denies it or says it’s for someone else, say: “This conversation isn’t to ask IF you’re taking drugs, it’s to see if you’re brave enough to admit the truth. And tell me what’s really happening. I want to know how it started, and how serious it is.”

Then just listen. And stay quiet, apart from occasional questions.
If they get angry about you invading their privacy say: ‘We’ll talk about that later, but at the moment this is about YOU TAKING DRUGS.’ Don’t overreact or get angry, threaten, punish, or lecture them. And don’t try to add to their guilt. Your best hope of getting them to stop is that they don’t want to let you down even more.


  • “You need to stop.
  • How can you do that?
  • Do you need professional help?
  • We can go to the doctor and see what help’s available.
  • Or I can come with you to this drug addiction service.

At the end, say:

  • ‘I love you. I’m still here for you. And I’ll support you. But my job is to keep you safe.
  • Drugs will affect your brain and your ability to make good decisions. It’s illegal and you need to stop.”

And as you don’t want drugs on your property, flush them down the toilet.

3. Work out how you can help your teenager recover long-term.

Explain you won’t cover up or make excuses for their drug use, or protect them from ANY consequences of taking drugs.
Explain that their actions mean they’ve lost the right to privacy. You’ll be checking everything from now on. Their back pack, room, mobile and their internet use. Regularly – with or without them present. And that from now on you want to know where they’re going, and who they’ll be with.

Talk to your teenager about how to address problems that may have caused them to take drugs. And encourage your teenager to engage with old friends, other interests, social activities or team sports. And get back a life without drugs.

So, to confront a teenager about using drugs

  1. Stay calm and gather your evidence.
  2. Plan how you’ll challenge your teenager. Then do it.
  3. And work out how you can help your teenager recover long-term.

If you need more than three tips on this from a UK parenting coach, or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

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The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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