I’ve Found Paraphernalia in My Teen’s Room. What Now?
If there are drugs in your home, they may be hidden in plain sight. Parents need to be aware of drug paraphernalia, concealment devices, and improvised hiding places. They’re affordable and easily accessible for teens yet hard for parents to spot, as seen on TODAY’s “Rossen Reports” segment featuring notMYkid and First Check.
While a parent’s inclination is to dismiss the thought of their child using drugs, it’s a reality they must confront. Teens are under a lot of pressure, both socially and mentally, and may see drugs as a readily available solution. Even responsible, intelligent, unassuming adolescents from healthy families can succumb to the temptation.
Therefore, the first, essential step parents should take is admitting their child may be using drugs. Symptoms and behaviors include:
• A negative change in academic performance
• Isolation from family and friends
• Frequent mood swings
• Change in peer groups
• Red, watery, or glassy eyes
• Significant pupil dilation or constriction
• Slurred speech, lack of motor control or coordination, or nodding off
• Stealing money or possessions from family and friends
• A loss in interest in normal hobbies, activities, or sports
• Avoiding eye contact
What starts as experimentation can lead to addiction. So if you have a suspicion, the earlier you intervene, the better. Acting quickly gives you the best chances at a positive outcome. When sitting down with your child, express your love and concern for them. Explain that you want to help them but can’t if you aren’t aware of what’s going on.
If they aren’t forthcoming or they deny using anything, but evidence or instinct suggest otherwise, you may need to look through their room, vehicle, and backpack. Be thorough, following the steps outlined on the “Rossen Reports” segment. Pay attention to items you may normally overlook or disregard. Open things, pick them up, look behind them.
If you do find drugs or paraphernalia, take the following the steps.
1. Keep your composure. The discovery can be emotional and overwhelming. However, how you handle it is crucial. Talk to your spouse or partner. Make a plan of action. If you remain composed when approaching your child with what you found, they’re more likely to be receptive and honest.
2. Seek to understand. This is not a time for accusations. Ask your teen why they’re using drugs in an effort to genuinely understand their motivation. Curiosity, peer pressure, self-medication and coping, boredom and the desire to feel grown up are common reasons. Knowing why is pivotal for you to help remedy the situation.
3. Find professional help. While it’s important to do what you can to help your teen, it’s equally important to know your limitations. If he or she is in the early stages of drug use, connecting them with a counselor is advisable. It’s also important for their physician to be aware of what’s going on because part of the solution may be medical.
If your teen has been using for an extended period of time, an intensive outpatient (IOP) or group program may be a better fit. If they’re struggling with addiction and are dependent on one or more substance, a residential treatment stay may be necessary. Likewise, it may be beneficial for you to seek counseling as well. One family member’s struggle with drugs commonly affects the rest of the family.
4. Consider home drug testing. Asking if your child is using drugs is a difficult question. First Check home drug tests provide parents with answers. You can test for up to 14 different drugs and, in just five minutes, have results that are more than 99% accurate. Additionally, keeping a First Check home drug test at home can give teens an easy way out when they’re pressured to do drugs: “I can’t, my parents are crazy, they drug test me.” You can find First Check online and over the counter at your local pharmacy.
Your priority is keeping your child healthy, safe, and thriving. We’ve helped parents across the country realize what could be hiding in their homes through our work with First Check’s Help Increase Drug Education (H.I.D.E.) Teen Room Experience—a pop-up bedroom loaded with mock drugs, paraphernalia, and concealment devices. Don’t be afraid to know the truth.
And if action is necessary, don’t feel like you need to go it alone. You can find help and support for your loved ones here:
SAMHSA Treatment Locator:
SAMHSA National Helpline: