Problems Over Drugs

If you and your parents are hassling over drugs, maybe it’s because they’ve just learned of your drug use and are scared and angry. Or, perhaps they’ve heard that the people you hang with are into drugs and think you are, too.


If there’s been a change in the way you act and dress, maybe your grades have slipped, they could assume that drugs are the problem. It might help you to understand the problems you’re having with your parents if you know where they’re coming from, so we’ll talk about that. We’ll also give you some practical advice on what you can do to try to work out some of the hassles with them.

The way your parents feel about drugs is probably a lot different than the way you feel about them. It might help to know why. For one thing, they may have been adolescents during the 1940s or ’50s when grass, pep pills and hard drugs were linked with jazz musicians and criminals who were considered real social dropouts. And, if they’ve been reading about widespread drug use among today’s teenagers, they’re likely to be pretty scared. Some newspapers and magazine articles about drugs are overly-sensitive and scary, but then it’s difficult to find a story of teenage success that suggests drugs were an important and positive influence, right? We’re not saying that your parents are misinformed about drugs. We are saying that the way they feel about drugs is different from the way you feel about them.

Another way in which you and your parents may be seeing drugs differently has to do with the way each of you sees your drug use in the future. They may be convinced that whatever drug you’re using now will lead to hard drug use sooner or later. They may be aware of others who became dependent on drugs at just about your age, and have since been unable to regain control over their lives. At the same time, you may be seeing your drug use as only experimental without giving a thought to a future with drugs at all. Unfortunately, many drug experimenters find themselves drug dependent with very little understanding of how that happened. Drug dependence may be just what your parents fear will happen to you.

When your parents see you getting into drugs, they may also feel they’ve failed in some way. If that’s so, they may want to control whatever you’re doing so that you’ll straighten out and they can feel good about themselves as parents again.

Peer pressure is not something only you have to deal with. Your parents may also be struggling with the reaction of their friends and relatives to your known or suspected drug use. They may be getting lectured, criticized, and otherwise put down for letting you get away with such behavior. You might think they ought to ignore their friends and relatives, but that may be hard for them to do and probably won’t keep them from hassling you. But it might help your relationship with them if you know about the pressure you feel. Your parents are probably also concerned since they’re legally and morally responsible for you until you’re 18. If you get busted for possession, or get into any kind of legal hassles because of drug use, they’ll end up in court with you. They’ll be paying for the lawyer. Their insurance rates will go up if you have an accident with the family car while under the influence. Realizing that they could someday face this is pretty scary in itself. What may be even worse for your parents is the fear that when it gets right down to it, they actually have very little control over your drug use.

The last thing we’d like to mention is that everything else aside, your parents are probably just plain worried about you because they love you. And despite what you may think, they probably do have some idea about what goes on in their kid’s life, and the truth may be hard for them to take. You might not appreciate their love and concern at the moment but they’re probably not going to stop loving you, nor are they likely to like your involvement with drugs. So, you still haven’t found a way to end the hassles with your parents over drugs.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about some of the things your parents may be feeling if they know, or suspect, you’re into drugs. We think it’s important for you to understand where they may be coming from if you’re having hassles with them. But to try to solve the problem, you’ve got to talk to them about what’s going on. Drug use is a very emotional issue, and you’ve got to be able to communicate with them unemotionally in order to get anything straightened out. Things could get pretty tough unless you go about this with your head on straight. Here are some things you can try. They can make the difference between communicating and creating more hassles.

1) Be straight when you talk to them. That means no drugs. It might be tempting to do a drug which would calm you down or give you courage before you talk to them, but that is probably the worse thing you could do. Also, try to speak in their language, not in clichés or street talk. If you talk to your parents like a “know it all kid,” they will be turned off and the conversation will end before you get to make your point.

2) Why not give them an honest picture of your involvement with drugs. If you’re just experimenting, for example, tell them exactly what that means. They probably suspect the worst, which is likely to be something far more serious than what you’re really doing.

3) Stick to the issues –you and your drug use. Don’t allow yourself or your parents to start dragging in other matters, right now.

4) Don’t lay a guilt trip on your parents. The point of the talk you’re having with them is to help each other understand what’s going on. Try not to make your parents feel bad about themselves or the job they’ve done raising you.

5) if you can, promise your parents that you won’t do drugs when you’re driving, supposed to be in school or doing something else.

Now, if you keep these things in mind as you’re talking with your parents, they might see you as more mature and responsible than they have in the past. if you have proven to be a trustworthy person in other important matters, well, your parents may be willing to trust you on this too. However, if you are frequently irresponsible and sometimes caught lying, well, your parents may feel they really have to come down hard on you now in order to curb your drug use.

Another approach you might try — especially if you feel you can’t talk to your parents at all and the problem has become very serious, is to get help from an outside source. Your best bet is someone who could talk with you and your parents about what’s happening, calmly and rationally, and try to get you two together on this. Perhaps an adult friend you both know and like could help you. Try to involve a counselor or teacher from school. You might also try calling a drug counseling hotline for some helpful advice on how to handle your particular problem.

In this tape, we’ve tried to explain some of the concerns and fears your parents may be having if they know or suspect that you’re involved with drugs. We’ve suggested that you talk with them to try to clear the air and to reduce their fears. We’ve also given you some tips on how to talk to them. If you feel you can’t talk to your parents alone about this, get another adult person involved in the family discussion. Lastly, we encourage you to reconsider your involvement with drugs. Why are you spending so much time and energy trying to convince your parents that your drug use is harmless and experimental? If what your parents are feeling and thinking bothers you so much, perhaps that can tell you what’s really important here. Maybe you’re having trouble giving up what you thought was just “experimental” drug use, and you’re afraid there’s more to your drug involvement than you care to think about. Before you go any further we recommend that you contact a telephone drug counselor right away just to talk about your drug use. And remember, “Straight is great.”


For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.