It’s an all too familiar story. A young teen who was once loveable, happy, a reasonably successful student and all around good kid has become surly, disrespectful and defiant. He is wearing the uniform of the druggies, sweatshirt hood drawn up over his face, pants hanging low. He spends hours in his room, uncommunicative. He spends even more hours out of the house, places unknown. He is often sleepy and red-eyed when he finally does come home. Any request for information is met with hostility. When you’ve searched his room, you have found drug-related paraphernalia and cryptic notes that are alarming. Old friends don’t call any more. The kids he is bringing around have reputations for finding trouble. Now your kid has found them.
No attempts to talk to him have helped. You have begged, pleaded, cried, scolded, and threatened. You have taken away privileges and things that are special to him. Maybe you’ve even had difficult talks with the school or the local police. Nothing seems to make an impression. You are watching your child disappear into the drug culture. The stakes are high. He’s playing with criminal behavior that could get him in jail and he’s putting things into his body that could kill him. You are right to be scared. You are right to fight for his life.
The first thing to do is to take a step back and analyze what is going on. Like most parents, you’ve probably been dealing with the symptoms (hair, dress, curfews, and contraband), not the deeper problems (feelings, peer pressures, family dynamics, addiction). You will be in a much better position to come up with solutions if you have a better idea of what the real problems are. See which of these possibilities, if any, fit.