Broaching the Question of Drug Usage with Your Child

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2004

Hi Annette,
I have few questions.  I know my son 15 years old is taking drug.  I don't know what kind.  I asked him if he is and he said no.  I did not say anything because I don't want to say to wrong thing.  He might not taking it everyday but I know he does.  I need you help in how to approach and how to deal with it.  What I should say and what I should not.  He is a good kid but somehow trying to be bad.  He used to be an honor student but the last 2 years (high school) things are going down hill.  He now getting more C's than B's no A's.  I have 2 older children and they have never use drug, no one else in the family either.

Please help!  I thank God for people like you who are so willing to help, may God bless you abundantly.

Thank you and God Bless,
Ly Lora


Dear Ly,

There are drug-testing places in all major cities.  There are mostly used for drug testing new employee-to-be, by employers.  However, they get a lot of concerned parents who are regularly having their children tested. 

I would tell your son why you are suspecting his usage of drugs (example: grades are suffering).  Then tell him that you want him tested.  If he is using he will use every trick in the book to get you to call it off. 

He may end up shouting at you.  Stay calm!  Tell him that he should be happy to prove that he is clean, instead of getting defensive (and probably really ugly).  Tell him that his behavior leads you to believe that he has something to hide.

I believe the urine tests are between $55-$75.  That may seem like a lot but a lot is riding on those results. 

If he comes up negative for drugs, then continue to test on a regular basis.  If he comes up positive for drugs, then you have to take the next step.  Since you do not know how much he is using or for how long, it would be best to give him a chance to clean up his act. 

If he comes up positive for drugs again, then he needs to go to drug rehab.  He needs to this is what will happen, in advance, so he knows what his actions will bring.  Drug rehab is needed because, even when knows he is in trouble, he cannot stay clean.  This is the action of a drug addict.  He cannot control what he is doing.

If he comes up positive, calmly tell him that you are sorry that he chose to use which means he chose to go to drug rehab. Pack up what is needed and take him to rehab.  This means you need to have already checked out the drug rehabilitation programs available to you in you area, will fit into your budget, and probably your health insurance.  Do this now. 

To find the best places, call up the offices of psychologist whose specialty is drug abuse counseling.  Ask them where the best places are that get good results.  Usually the best results are gotten with in-patient facilities.

If you love your child and he is involved in drug usage, you have to take the tough line with him.  You cannot give in or you will lose him.  There are no guarantees that he will stay clean after he comes out of rehab, as he has to give up old friends that he has been using with and stop going to his old haunts where people are using.  This means that he has to reorder his life.  That is hard for anybody, especially for teens.

Once he is out of rehab, the drug testing must start again.  If he comes up dirty for drugs again, give him the same chance that you did the first time – that is time to clean up his act.  If he comes up dirty again it is back to rehab.  He needs to know this.

There are things that do help recovering addicts.  Attending the 12-step program for drug addicts called Narcotics Anonymous.  You can find where these meetings are being held by looking up Narcotics Anonymous in your phone book or on the internet. 

Find an Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Near You

This is an index of Narcotics Anonymous regions and areas in the United States which have their local NA meeting schedules published on web sites.

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Internet NA Articles
• What Can I Expect at a 12-Step Meeting?
Narcotics Anon.

I highly suggest that he go to 10 meeting in 10 days if he comes up dirty for drugs the first time.  And then at least 3 times a week or more as needed.  He needs to get a sponsor from that organization to guide him through his recovery.  At the meetings they do pass a basket to cover basic expenses of the meeting, give what you wish.  The sponsor is free, but he has to ask for one.

 You need to get more help on how to cope I highly suggest you attend Nar-Anon.  It is a support group for relatives and friends of drug abusers. 

Healing with Nar-Anon

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2004

I came across your article today as I searched the web desperately looking for something to help me feel better. My family and I have lived thru everything you wrote about it like you were writing our untold story. I have had 3 heart attacks but never stopped trying to help my son. I was with him through several different treatment programs, including a residential one that lasted 9 months.
He didn’t work, didn’t do anything he promised and continued his drug usage. He stole so much from us over the years, but when he stole the money i had put aside for my heart medication that was the last straw and we thru him out. We had to get the police to do it because he can become violent...but I’ve been feeling so lost, like I failed ..and your article was a godsend. Thank you for understanding the pain people like me live with.


Dear Friend,

Thank you for your letter!  I'm sorry to hear that you have had such a bad time with your son.  We as mothers always hope for the best and sometimes it just doesn't work out.  That is what happens when our children make choices for themselves.  If we are lucky, they make good choices.  Drug users seldom do.  Live for yourself, but still love him.  I hope that he reaches rock bottom soon without destroying himself, so that he will look up and be ready to get the help he needs.

There are groups for significant others of drug users, that help them to heal themselves from the hurt and abuse the drug user has inflicted on them.  It is called Nar-Anon.  It is free!  Here are some references to it from the net.  If you live in a big enough city there should be meetings near you.

I hope you will choose to go and see what support and help they can give you to heal!

Best wishes for a good life for him and you,

Annette Nay, MS


Nar-Anon Resources
Nar-Anon Family Groups is a 12-step support group for relatives and friends of drug abusers
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Nar-Anon Meetings
Support meetings for those who have been affected by someone else's substance abuse.
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Nar-Anon Resources
Information and resources for the friends and familes of drug addicts and substance abusers.

URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Nar-Anon Meetings - page 2 of 2
Support meetings for those who have been affected by someone else's substance abuse.
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Find a Meeting
Find a meeting or support group online or off. Net Links from your guide.
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Recovery in Russia
Author and inspirational speaker Shelly Marshall visited Russia this fall and shares her observations on the state of alcoholism recovery efforts in the former Soviet Union.
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Find a Meeting

Find a meeting or support group online or off. Net Links from your guide.
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Support for Families
Resources for the friends and families of alcoholics.
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Substance and Drug Abuse
Substance abuse is a major problem in our society today. Find out about the difference between abuse and addiction, the most commonly abused drugs, and where to find help and treatment.
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)

Proposed 12 Step Conference - 10/13/99
A special conference for participants in all 12 step programs is planned for October, 2000 in Ellenville, New York.
URL: (About Alcoholism / Substance Abuse)


To help you son when he gets out of rehab or even when he comes up dirty the first time I suggest having him implement – immediately,  the concepts in the following article, which come from the 12-stepprogram - Narcotics Anonymous. 


Counseling Objectives and Relapse Prevention

  1. Is there a certain sequence of events that you follow?
  2. Is there certain routines that are associated with your addiction?

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired or HALT



Helpful Sayings and Slogans

Easy Does It

First Things First

One Day at a Time

Let Go Let God

Turn It Over


Hungry and Tired

  1. A state of exhaustion is an invitation drink or use.
  2. A body in poor physical condition will get tired more quickly than one that is being taken care of
  3. How much sleep should you have on an average?
  4. Is this adequate? The average adult needs eight hours rest. Any more ore less usually leaves the body tired and sluggish.
  5. What changes, if any, should you make with regard to rest?
  6. What is your state of health? Are you capable of some form of regular exercise in the interest of gaining energy?



  1. Study it out in your mind.
  2. Make a decision as to what choice you want to take.
  3. Ask your Higher Power if your decision is the right one for you, at this time.
  4. If you feel a sweet calm or get a sense that what you have asked is good or right, you have gotten a "yes" answer from your Higher Power. Follow through on your decision.
  5. If you feel confused or tend to forget what you are asking, you have just received a "No" answer. If this is the case Ask your Higher Power to help you select the correct choice. Rethink your choices and repeat step 3.


1. Anger that causes anxiety drives the addict to drink or use in order to cover these feelings up.

  1. Resentment, comes from unexpressed or denied anger
  2. Resentments must be confronted and let go in favor of more effective ways of dealing with anger in the present.
  3. How can you express anger better, to avoid building up stores of resentments in the future?


Denial This is denying there was or loss or minimizing the importance of what was lost. This includes denying its importance.

Anger The breakdown of denial and the natural reaction to loss.

Bargaining Attempting to replace the lost thing with something else without acknowledging its loss.

Sadness The true expression of undenied loss. Sadness that is dwelt upon for long lengths of time could be depression and may need professional help to overcome.

Acceptance This comes slowly, only as denial breaks down and the individual feels able to come to terms with the reality of loss or limitation and is ready to move on.

  1. Write a "good-bye letter" to your companion, alcohol or drugs.
  2. Write in your journal about losses that you have not adequately acknowledged and grieved, including losses in each of these areas:
    1. Relationships (people, pets, things or goals
    2. Self-esteem or self worth

The Moral Inventory

Goals of the Moral Inventory

1. Honestly admit and talk about the wrongs and errors you have committed as a result of your addiction.

· Jealousy · Greed · Selfishness · Impulsiveness · Grandiosity · Arrogance · Self-pity · Meanness · Resentment

2. Balance recognition of wrongs done with equal recognition of positive aspects about yourself.

·         Balance -- A moral inventory should also be balanced, meaning that you should not lose sight of your positive qualities, right choices, and heroic efforts.

· Generosity · Heroism · Charity · Sharing

· Altruism · Kindness · Humility · Love · Compassion

Making Amends


The Twelve Step Program


Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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