Parenting Teens: 5 Ways to Cope with Your Teenager’s Drug Use

5 Ways to Cope with Your Teenager's Drug Use


I recently had the privilege to write an article for the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign. Their mission is to prevent abuse of over the counter medications, especially cough medicines containing DXM. I decided to write a piece for parents about how to cope if your concern about your teen’s substance use. My tips apply whether your concern is OTC drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, or illegal drugs. If you know or suspect your teenager is using drugs, you’re not alone. There is help and hope.

If you’re in the San Jose area, I can assist you with supportive counseling, setting limits, and managing your stress. Please call or email me today.


It’s hard to find a family that hasn’t been impacted by substance abuse in some way. And even though we know the prevalence of teenage substance use is high, denial is often stronger. “Not my kid,” we think. Or we minimize it: “Kids experiment. What’s a little beer or weed?”

The problem is a lot of kids aren’t just experimenting. I’ve counseled hundreds of addicts and every single one began as an experimenting tween or teen.

So, what do you do when you’re teenager is using drugs?

1. Trust your gut.

If something seems “off” with your child, it probably is. Parents often get hung up on wanting to know what, how much, and why. Teenagers often lie to their parents and teenagers who are abusing drugs or alcohol always lie to their parents. It’s an integral part of drug abuse; People will do whatever they have to do in order to keep using. You don’t need all the details and facts before getting help.

2. Manage your own feelings.

Start by acknowledging that parenting is extremely stressful. You may be experiencing overwhelming feelings of anger, guilt, shame, sadness, or worry. I know can be tempting to yell, bury yourself in work, lock yourself in your room, drink or eat too much. Obviously, these approaches aren’t going to help you and aren’t modeling the kind of coping skills you want your teenager to use. If you need to vent, find someone other than your teenager to release to.

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