I think my kid is using crystal meth. What can I do first?
The Vancouver Island Health Authority recommends that, if you suspect or discover your child intoxicated or in possession of alcohol or other drugs, take the following approaches. (This is an edited short segment of their full article.)
- Stay calm. It may not be necessary to talk about your concerns right away (especially if safety is not an immediate issue). You will likely have more impact if you are calm, informed, and clear with what you want to achieve through your conversation with your child. Deal with safety issues IMMEDIATELY.
- Keep track of your observations and concerns. Reflect on things that have happened in the past that may have been connected with their use of alcohol/other drugs. Write all of these things down or, at least, commit them to memory.
- Set a date with them to talk about something that is important to them and to you. Do not talk to them about what it is exactly you want to talk about — simply let them know that you want a date with them and want them to commit at least ___ minutes/hours to your “date.”
- Decide if you want them to see an alcohol/other drug counsellor for an assessment — to determine if their use of alcohol/other drugs is a problem or not.
- Script your message; make a list of the points you want to cover. Note which points are crucial to discuss and which, if any, can wait until another conversation.
- Begin by expressing your love and concern for them.
- Restate family rules/expectations about alcohol/other drug use.
- State your observations of their behavior that indicates that they are using alcohol/other drugs and why you are worried about this behavior.
- Ask them to explain to you how they see alcohol/other drugs fitting into their lives (when they enjoy using, where they like to use, who they like to be with when they use, how long they plan to use, what effects the drink/drugs they are using are having on them, any concerns they or others have or have mentioned about their use).
- Give them time to respond. (If they continually interrupt you, let them know that you will stop every so often to let them respond, otherwise, they are to remain quiet and let you finish, first.).
- Return to your script. Restate your rules and expectations about the use of alcohol/other drugs.
- Apply consequences that they knew to expect (in a previous conversation(s) you established the consequences for using drugs, alcohol, and acting in inconsiderate, threatening or otherwise antisocial and negative behaviour.)
- Let them know what consequences you plan on implementing if their use of alcohol/other drugs continues.
- If you want them to see a counsellor for an assessment, tell them that you would like them to do this so that they, and you, know if their use of alcohol or other drugs is causing problems in their life. (This step helps them take responsibility for how their use is impacting others and provides a way for them to show you, their siblings, etc. that they are willing to look at their behavior.)
- Let them know that their behavior has affected your ability to trust them and that this is a serious blow to your relationship with them. Let them know that you would like to rebuild this trust and suggest a few ways that they might begin doing this. Make sure you let them know that trust takes a while to be rebuilt and that you are willing to work at this with them.
- Follow through with consequences and repeat this entire process (or parts of it) if/when necessary.
- Any/every time you are interrupted when you are speaking, remind your child that you will let them respond when you are finished. Try using the magic word, “NEVER-THE-LESS.” It can be quite effective.
- Get support for yourself and remain as health (physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially) as you can.