Is Snooping the Best Way to Confirm a Teen’s Drug Addiction?

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Parents have varying opinions regarding snooping through their child’s belongings, and in some cases, snooping isn’t necessary and can lead to more harm than good. However, both interventionists and preventionists believe that if you sense your teen may be using drugs or alcohol, snooping can prevent further abuse and keep your child safe.

The River Source counselors have learned from many of our young patients that their drug addiction came to light after a parent found the evidence. Before that, some did a suitable job of masking their addiction while others were showing signs of difficulty. While our patients agree that they felt violated at first, they are now happy that their loved ones stepped in and encouraged drug rehabilitation.

Should You Snoop?

If you are a parent and you suspect your child is using drugs, the first question is whether or not you should snoop. If you notice signs of addiction,  investigating your teenager’s belongings is to keep them safe, not snoop. In fact, you may find that your child is suffering from anxiety or depression, something that also needs to be addressed through counseling and treatment.

Now, remember that you don’t have to be secretive about your snooping. The River Source counselors agree that telling your child is just as effective as searching their rooms when they’re at school. Many parents find that they’re more willing to search their child’s stuff when they tell him or her ahead of time; it feels like less of a breach of privacy.

Of course, you don’t want to prepare your child for a search; you must do it unexpectedly. For instance, when your teen comes home late from school, you can ask her to turn over her backpack, cell phone or laptop. However, some parents find it best to wait until their child is out of the home so that they can search in peace and solitude.

It largely depends on the relationship you have with your child on whether you plan to tell them about searching their belongings. All parents and caregivers must do what’s right for their family, but you must always remember that you cannot put your child’s independence and right to privacy before their safety and health.

Being Prepared for a Search

The best attitude to have when searching your child’s belongings is one of confidence and preparedness, so don’t go into a situation without knowing the consequences. If you firmly believe something is going on, be prepared to handle your emotions if you find what you’re looking for. The first step is to know where to look.

  • Dresser and desk drawers
  • Between folded clothes
  • Inside prescription medicine bottles
  • Inside empty candy wrappers
  • CD and DVD cases
  • Jewelry boxes and pencil cases
  • Backpacks, duffle bags, athletic bags
  • Underneath beds and furniture
  • Buried in plant dirt
  • In between books on a bookshelf
  • Inside books, tubes of makeup or writing utensils
  • Underneath loose planks in the floor
  • Behind mirrors or picture frames

What if I Find Something?

When meeting with River Source families, one of the worst feelings that a parent experiences is when they find the evidence they have been suspecting. If you do find something, be prepared to talk to your child and know the action you will take. You know your child and may be able to anticipate whether he or she will become angry, remorseful or show no emotion.

There is also a chance that you may find something but not know what it is. It can be difficult to pinpoint what type of drug your child may be using, so be sure to do your homework ahead of time. There are also helpful online guides that can assist you in identifying the substance you found.

Another obstacle that parents face is that their child lashes back and says that their privacy was invaded. DO NOT get wrapped up in an argument regarding privacy; your rule is no drugs, no exceptions. It can be difficult to acknowledge and accept that your child is using drugs, but denying this behavior doesn’t do anyone any favors. The sooner you accept the reality and seek help for your loved one, the closer you are to repairing your child’s health and safety.

Confronting Your Child

Managing your emotions will be difficult, but you never want to become angry or hysterical. You don’t want to threaten, make ultimatums or interrogate your child. It’s also important that you don’t place blame on friends or diagnose why your child is abusing drugs. This can lead your child to feeling further misunderstood. An open, honest discussion is best so that you can learn the depth of the problem.

Thankfully, if a problem is caught early enough, family support, a strict schedule and a higher involvement in activities, charity work and family outings can turn a troubled child around. It’s also best to speak with a certified counselor or social worker that can provide professional help and support. Counselors may also be able to recommend church programs and community support groups.

Sometimes, these modest steps are not enough. You may already know in your heart that your loved one needs more, and that’s when you stage an intervention and encourage your loved one to seek professional help at a treatment center such as The River Source. Our facility works with families every day, and we welcome your call to see if our community can be of assistance. We can also schedule same-day transportation and admission into our facility so that your loved one receives high-quality, holistic care without wait.