Is my child or teenager on drugs?

Do you suspect that your child is on drugs? Should you snoop? More here on the most common places teens hide drug stashes and what you can do to sniff them out.

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Can parents prevent drug abuse?  Should you snoop on your child if you suspect drug abuse? Maybe.  Teen prescription drug abuse is on the rise and parents now need to be alert to the potential risks of both Rx and illicit drugs.  More here on strategies for finding our whether or not your child or teenager is on drugs. Plus, a section at the end for your questions.

On the hunt for teen drug stashes?

The debate between parents on whether or not to snoop on a child continues to rage online and over coffee wherever parents congregate.  Some parents believe that as long as children are living under their roofs, and especially if they are not yet adults, that gives them every right to snoop in their rooms and it is actually their responsibility to snoop if they believe that their child is in any type of danger. Another group of parents believe that trust and communication trump all and snooping breaks that bond of trust both ways and therefore isn’t worth it. And a third group is of the mindset that while you shouldn’t snoop indiscriminately, if you believe your child is in imminent danger snooping can be appropriate.

So are you ready to dig through your kid’s stuff to try to find drugs? Snooping is a bit of a balancing act because you’re obligated as a parent to keep your children safe but if they find out that you went into their rooms and had an uninvited look around, you’ll end up causing a lot more problems than you solve. Here are some tips to help you as you investigate whether or not your child is on drugs.

Is my child on drugs? Tips on finding a teenager’s drugs

1. Have enough time to look for drugs

If you do feel the need to have a look in your child’s room, you should obviously do it while they are out of the house. You can get sneaky here and have your partner or a friend occupy them and keep them occupied while you do what you need to do.

2. Return items to their proper place

Don’t just start lifting things at random and putting them back down wherever. Pay close attention to the way things are arranged before you handle them and place them back as close as possible to the way they were prior to being disturbed. This is why it is not recommended that you be in a hurry when snooping but make sure you have plenty of time to do it inconspicuously.

3. Have a game plan should you find drugs

Whatever your findings, you should first discuss them with your partner or a friend and formulate some kind of a game plan. Talking about it with someone will help you better understand your feelings and it will be a good dry run in preparing to talk to your child. And it will give any anger you feel a chance to dissipate. If your search produces no results, it’s still a good idea to talk to someone about it just to get your feelings out.

4. Take a photo of the drugs as evidence

If you do find something, resist the urge to snatch it and take it out of the room. Instead, take a picture of it for evidence. If you take it out right away, you’ll need to talk to your child about it immediately when they return because they are likely to find out that it’s gone. This won’t give you the opportunity to talk to someone else about it first and could lead to a blow up type confrontation. This is not something you want. (We all know the merits of arguing with an angry teenager.)

5. Evaluate the risk and dangers for intervention

Knowing how to deal with teenage drug use is an important step in preparing yourself to face possible drug problems.  Of course, sometimes immediate intervention is needed, depending on the severity of the drug. If you find marijuana in your child’s room, your child is probably not in any immediate danger but if you find something more serious like methamphetamine or one of the new, dangerous synthetic drugs popping up, then your child may very well be in more immediate danger.

6. Prepare for an intervention

The same guideline applies, though. Do not simply confront them for the shock value of it. That will only lead to confrontation and we’ve already talked about how that likely won’t do anyone any good. Staging a full on intervention is beyond the scope of this post but it should definitely be done in a calm and relaxed environment, avoiding a full on confrontation. Confrontations mean you miss an opportunity to have a meaningful talk with your teen about how their drug use makes you feel and affects the family.

Where do teenagers hide drugs?

Now, if you do get around to snooping, you’ll want to know where you should be looking. It would be really convenient if every drug user just left their stash in a drawer marked ‘Drugs’ but that isn’t likely to happen.

You should definitely start with the obvious places like drawers, under the mattress, in light fixtures, on top of ceiling tiles and don’t forget to check the carpet for any loose corners where it could be pulled up and then tucked back under the baseboards later. Not all teens are creative geniuses, after all. But once you’ve exhausted those places, you should then put on your sneaky teen thinking cap. Look around the room for anything that could be used as a container. That electric pencil sharpener has a nice open space in it that could be used to hide something quite easily.

And don’t forget those books. Cutting the pages out of a book to make a hollow space for hiding stuff is seen in a lot of movies and TV shows that teens watch and they have to get their inspiration from somewhere.  Plus, here is a list of other common hiding places. If some of them seem a little too weird or impractical to be true, then you’ve just proven why it’s a great hiding place.

  • Bathrooms – since bathrooms have ceiling fans, kids often smoke in here and thus they will keep a stash in the bathroom, sometimes in the toilet tank or in some kind of container
  • Belt buckles – belt buckles with secret compartments where kids can hide things are sold online
  • Candy wrappers – the candy can easily be replaced with pills or other drugs
  • Hollowed out candles
  • In bulky winter clothing where an extra bulge isn’t as noticeable
  • In cars – under the dashboard, in the glove compartment, under the seats and cushions, basically any nook or cranny in a vehicle
  • In CD cases
  • In empty lip gloss and lipstick containers (also, a travel container for over the counter pain killers makes an excellent stash place to conceal illicit drugs)
  • In game consoles like a Wii or an Xbox that have empty areas inside of them (this also includes computer towers and speakers) – portable game consoles can have their batteries removed to make a hiding place
  • In pockets of clothes hanging up in the closet
  • In shoes in the closet
  • Inside socks in sock drawers
  • Inside the barrel of pens or highlighters
  • Laptop cases
  • Taped to the wall behind posters or pictures in their room
  • Under fish tank or pet cage or under the lid of a fish tank

That’s a pretty big list and that’s just getting started with how creative teens can be when hiding drugs from parents. But it gets even trickier because while you’re searching on the internet for places where teens stash drugs, they’re doing the same searches so they know where parents are most likely to look so they know where not to hide their drugs!

What if my kid is using drugs?

Now that you know how clever your kids can be when hiding drugs, you are a little better prepared to have a look around if you feel the need to. Remember, though, that even if you don’t find anything, the fact that you were compelled to do a search probably means that it’s a good idea to talk to your kids about drugs. You don’t have to make any accusations, just let them know how you feel about it.

Have questions about anything we’ve addressed?  Please leave your questions and comments below.  We take the time to answer all legitimate concerns personally and promptly.

About the author
Lena Butler is a mom, health blogger and customer service representative for TestCountry. TestCountry is a San Diego based point of service diagnostic test service provider that offers a wide range of laboratory and instant testing kit solutions including drug tests, metal toxicity, DNA paternity, food and water tests and hundreds more. TestCountry's tests are easy to use and can be performed at your home or workplace.
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