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Advice about Teens: Drugs & Alcohol

Advice, discussions, and reviews from the Parents of Teens weekly email newsletter.

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Advice about Teens: Drugs & Alcohol


General Questions about Drugs & Alcohol Resources Advice about Specific Substances Related Advice

Identifying Drugs I found in son's backpack

April 2013

I found two types of pills in my teen's (16 y/o male) backpack. One is in pill form, the other plain, unmarked capsule) Is there anyway to find out what these are Obviously Concerned


http://www.drugs.com/pill_identification.html start with the internet before you ask
Your best bet is to take the pills to a pharmacist. They may be able to identify them. Also - any time we've had experiences where we would even question a little bit, we have used the drug testing kit that you can purchase at the pharmacy. Buy the one that tests for more drugs. It did pick up my son's prescription amphetamines, so they work. Good luck!
Try www.erowid.org. Good luck, I know how scary this stuff can be. -been there
Take them to a druggist and ask for an id. Michael

Drugs and alcohol at teen parties

Oct 2011

Drugs and alcohol seem to be in wide spread use at teen parties in Albany. My daughter and I have an agreement that she will tell me when they will be used at parties she is asking to go to. I've recently discovered 2 things - some parents are actually joining the teens in drinking alcohol (doing shots with them) and also that often parents are leaving town for the weekend and leaving their teen sons or daughters alone. Wild parties with lots of drunken and drugged behavior ensue. I'm not naive - been there myself. Here is the question: a) should I betray my daughters confidence (hard won) by contacting the parents of these kids to let them know whats going on? I have spoken to the mother who does shots, and she sees things very differently than I do! or b) call the cops anonymously knowing that my daughter may get in trouble? or c) Do nothing other than continue having conversations with my daughter about the ill effects of these substances on the teen age brain. I'm open to suggestions. Of course, I am concerned about the overall well fare of all of these teenagers. Not just their health, but their safety - many are driving away from these parties. So sad and scary that this is going on. concerned mom


Call the cops - the parents are the ones who are going to get in trouble, and rightfully so. Furnishing alcohol to minors is illegal. Additionally, the law on potential liability for allowing people to leave your home and get in a car and drive when you reasonably should know they are impaired and unable to drive safely is continuing to evolve. Calling the cops seems like a very reasonable and foreseeable consequence to these parents' extremely irresponsible decisions. Call it like I see it
You said you ''have an agreement that she will tell me when they will be used [drugs/alcohol] at parties she is asking to go to.'' Was curious if you allow her to go to parties even after she tells you there will be drugs/alcohol there - I would not. For me, it has been better to send a clear msg of no drugs/alcohol and no to parties without responsible parents present, even knowing teens will be teens and my kids may break my rules. Other approaches always seem like a slippery slope. As a former very naughty teenager myself, I think parents need a strict line to try to keep a lid on things, knowing full well your kids are going a bit above that line. I would definitely not allow your kid to ever return to the house where the parent is taking shots with the kids. Calling the cops on that parent is not what I would do, but I would share that info with the parents of my kid's friends. It's a tough few years to navigate
Option B 100% , in my opinion. Your daughter won't know it's you who called and it would be a huge reality check for the kids and parents. Who cares if someone-adult or child-gets in trouble, it's better then having someone die from alcohol over consumption or car accident or having someone get raped. You'd feel more awlful knowing these things were happening and then someone getting hurt or killed and basically being the holder of such a secret is just enabling and colluding with the whole set up. It's okay to be the grown up and assert your authority! Anon
Definitely talk to your daughter. But I think you have to expand the conversation beyond the teen brain. I suggest you talk about some of the miserable consequences of drinking, such as date rape and alcohol poisoning. In addition you have to talk about positive aspects of drinking. Like how it makes people feel good and makes conversation easier. This will increase your credibility. If you only talk about the negative things, your teenager will not really believe you, because, if alcohol is so awful, why is everyone drinking? It makes no sense. I don't know if calling the police is a good idea. But it seems to me that if we all did that, our teenagers would be a lot safer. Anon

Financial reward for drug prevention?

Oct 2011

I am wondering about techniques parents are using to help shore up your child against the temptation/curiosity about drug and/or alcohol use. Now that my children are both teens, I would like to provide as much incentive for healthy choices as possible. We already talk about the risks of drug and alcohol use, but I know peer pressure, and curiosity can be strong pulls. Value judgments about drugs aside, using substances as teens is too early, with their body and brain not fully developed. I had a thought to offer them a financial incentive for staying clean. The idea is every year of high school that they do not use, they get a large sum of money to use for fun activities in college. Feedback? Suggestions? trying to keep them drug free!


I am wondering how you will know that they are holding up their end of the bargain? Most teenagers outright lie to their parents about sex and drugs....even the 'good' ones who know the rules. skeptic
I think a financial reward might work, but don't make them wait four years. That is tantamount to saying you want them to use the money to buy booze in college. How about you add a small sum to their weekly allowance if they stay clean and sober? I think a quick reward would be better. Although they may just work even harder to hide their drinking.

But really, what you say and do is far more important. If you are telling them all these miserable things about alcohol while you continue to drink, they will lose trust in you and want to experiment. You don't have to quit drinking. But you do have to be honest about the positives of drinking. Talk about the pros and cons and then explain why you want them to wait and what you expect of them when they go to college. Talk to them about how they can handle themselves when they get into uncomfortable situations. Ask them for their opinion so you can have a discussion. Don't just talk. Listen, too. And praise them often. Sanon


My son is a sophomore in high school, just turned 16 and has not tried drugs or alcohol even though he is in a school (Campolindo High School) where both (and prescription drug abuse) are rampant. I reward him handsomely with money and a car. I bought him a truck which comes with clear expectations, which means zero drugs! You can enforce it by buying a kit and having him randomly tested. We have not done it, as my son loves money and just does not want to do drugs, but pretty soon we are going to test him just to keep him on his toes. I also reward him randomly and often thank him for making good choices. For example, on 4/20, when lots of kids went to school high, I waived a $200 IOU and wrote him a card that said ''happy 4/20 day'' which he thought was pretty funny. It might seem that I am bribing him, but we have always openly talked about drugs and trusted him to make good choices. I grew up near Amsterdam but never touched any drugs, in fact I am petrified of them, which my son thinks is funny. I would say, include your child in the discussion. Ask them if they would consider a sum of money in exchange for a ''no drug contract.'' Making them part of the decision making process might sometimes work better. Good luck. Mom of high schooler

14-year-old is experimenting with alcohol & marijuana

May 2011

My son is fourteen and starting up a pattern of experimenting with alcohol, marijuana, sex, and lying about all of the above. His Dad and I are divorced but live in close proximity to one another, and we are currently adjusting our parenting behaviors as rapidly as we can to try to modify our son's behavior before he gets into significant trouble of some kind. We did have a therapist for our son, but according to the boy, the therapist was not helpful, too oriented toward passive listening and not enough intervention. That's how I understood his objections, at least. So a male therapist with experience in teen drug and alcohol abuse and of a more ''hands-on'' persuasion would be good if you have any suggestions. And any suggestions about parenting as a divorced couple in the teenage years would also be very welcome. getting to the end of my rope


Your son is doing pretty normal things for 14. Help him to feel that way. I would focus instead of trying to prevent ''experimentation'' from happening, to help him make smart choices. For instance if he is thinking about having sex: USE A CONDOM! Buy some condoms and leave them in the bathroom for him, or hand him a bag of them. He HAS to learn how to use them, so if you, mom, don't feel comfortable explaining it, then ask his father to. Or just do the old banana trick and allow him to be embarrassed! Drugs & Alcohol: talk to him about moderation. That's all you can really do and it's more helpful to him than if you say ''don't do it!''. Talk about body weight and types of alcohol (sticking with beer is better). The illegality of it at his age and what are the possible outcomes of getting caught. You are trying to keep him safe. I never allowed my daughter to smoke or drink in the house, so she had to do all that elsewhere. I didn't want to blur the edges of my authority. On the one hand, ''No I don't want you to do this and I'm not going to allow it in my house, but I know you are, so please be safe doing it'' sounds like a bundle of contradictions, but isn't parenting??

If you can talk about things then he won't lie...as much...if you can remain as non-judgemental as possible he will talk more. Tell him you love him and care about him.

As far as a therapist, maybe someone who is calling themselves a ''cognitive behavioralist'' because they really work with finding practical ways of dealing with things, instead of the soul-searching, Freudian stuff that makes most teens so uncomfortable! Contact your insurance provider for a list of therapists who do this. Good luck. anon


I heartily recommend Andrew Pojman, Ed.D. at Oasis Center in Walnut Creek. He's a big, no-nonsense, gentle former football player, a sensitive therapist with a special gift for working with boys. His phone number is 925-944-1800. susan
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this page was last updated: Nov 11, 2013


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