First, don’t be shocked. Despite all the precautions we take to protect our kids, drugs are pervasive in our culture. Kids who have been mistreated can be trying to medicate their pain. For kids who have come from families where drugs were part of their norm, they likely don’t have a healthy understanding of the danger of drugs.
Here are some suggestions for healthy responses for dealing with drugs:
- Calm down. Pause and take a deep breath before you do or say anything.
- Always respond in terms of the safety of the young person. Explain how the behavior can lead to dangerous or even deadly results, saying something like, “Drugs can result in terrible pain for you. I care about you and want to help you stay safe and have a good life.”
- Put some time between the event and the correction.
- When everyone is calmed down, ask what the young person is trying to achieve from using drugs.
- Ask the young person for ideas on what he or she could do differently to feel better, fit in, or whatever other result he or she hopes to achieve.
- If you issue consequences, make sure they are directly related to the offense. For example, if the drugs are connected to a friend or group of friends, consider taking away privileges to be with those friends.
It will take time, patience, and a commitment to love and listening to heal the youth in your care.
They are worth it.
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