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Drugs Effects on the brain

Some parents ignore the warning signs that can indicate drug use or another problem that deserves attention. A parent who suspects that their child is using drugs or is experiencing other troubles needs to take action.

"I wish that we'd taken action earlier without worrying that Joel thought we were mistrusting him," says Joel's dad Herb. "We should have said, 'We want you to wake up tomorrow. If you're angry at us, that's OK. If we're wrong, we'll apologize.' "

Hear what Dr. Clark encourages parents to do if they see signs of drug use.
Read what Dr. Clark encourages parents to do if they see signs of drug use.

If you find out your child has used any drug, Dr. Johnson suggests asking questions that invite discussion: Parents can ask, "What's going on recently that resulted in your making this choice? It's rough being a teenager. Are you feeling depressed or anxious about something in particular? Is there something you'd like to talk with me about? I'm here to listen."

If your child says, "I just wanted to try it," you can follow up with: "Tell me more about that." Parents need to be clear that, regardless of the reason, drug use is harmful and unacceptable. If your child continues to use drugs, then you need to insist on counseling.

How can a parent go about insisting that a child see a counselor?
"As long as a child is living at home," Dr. Johnson says, "parents can insist that a child do what is in the child's best interest. Parents can say, 'I'm worried about you. Let's go to see a counselor together.' "

What if the child refuses help?
"The parent can explain, 'Talking with a professional is so important that there will be consequences, unless you agree to go,'" Dr. Johnson says. "Consequences may include taking away videogames, TV, spending money, use of the car. If the child still refused to go, the parent can go alone and ask the therapist for help in dealing with the issue."

Most important, be pro-active. Get the information you need to be a credible source of information for your kids. Take advantage of opportunities to talk with your kids about drugs. And remind them often:

There's nothing safe about taking drugs that are prescribed for someone else. Using drugs in ways a doctor didn't prescribe, in doses a doctor didn't prescribe, is dangerous.

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