MAMa FAQ's #1

More information can be found in Crystal Meth: They Call it Ice.

Unpredictable behavior and wild moods swings may lead a parent to suspect drug abuse in the case of a child. Divorced parents are frequently concerned about drug use in the case of an ex-spouse who has complete or partial custody of their children. We are concerned to avoid false accusations, yet at the same time we fear for the safety of our children, whether they are the suspected abusers or the innocent infants of an addict.

In cases where the welfare of a child is at stake, the courts will often assist you in getting reliable information from a court ordered drug test. Insist on a hair test and be willing to help pay the additional costs. Hair tests are far more accurate than urine or saliva samples, especially when the person is aware of your suspicions. Urine can be adulterated or diluted, or the person can just avoid using for 24 hours prior to the anticipated test and avoid a positive result. Hair tests are virtually impossible to adulterate and they report drug activity for up to three months prior to testing.

Parents of minor children can also request a drug test to be done by a clinic or private doctor. There are also home tests available at most pharmacies and over the internet. You can collect the urine or hair sample and send it to a reputable lab at minimal cost. I recommend ‘prophylactic drug testing’ in which a child is informed in advance that a hair sample will be required of him at three month intervals. This gives the child extra ammunition against aggressive dealers and drug using friends. “Hey, my old man gets that hair test on me every three months. If I come up positive even once, I have to go to boot camp.”

The early signs of drug abuse are mostly personality changes, many of which are common in normal adolescence, and thus difficult to distinguish from normal adolescent development. We don’t really want our children to grow up to be zombies; we want them to have their own personality and identity. Unfortunately, that means trying on new identities to see what fits them, an exciting but potentially dangerous process that begins around age 12. The following are suggestive signs of drug abuse and should be responded to promptly with reliable drug testing and appropriate care.

Signs of a problem

Physical changes

  • Blood shot eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weight loss
  • Sudden increase in acne

Change in attitude

  • Irritability, wild mood swings
  • Fidgety and restles
  • Distant look, no conversation
  • Loss of interest in former hobbies
  • Loss of appetite
  • Won’t let you in his room
  • Doesn’t keep clean

Changes in behavior

  • Thrashes in his sleep
  • Wears sunglasses a lot
  • Repetitive motions, drumming fingers
  • Twitches and grunts
  • Forgets important events
  • Stealing and lying
  • Talking too much, too fast, too loud

Change in friends

  • Late hours
  • Lots of phone calls
  • New friends you don’t know
  • Not home when you call from work

Drop in grades

  • Calls from teachers, coaches
  • Drops out of sports teams
  • Loss of interest in school projects
  • Last minute scrambles for assignments
  • Can’t get up for school

This list is not comprehensive and does not describe every addict.

A child’s room should be inspected by a parent on a regular basis. This is not being nosey; this is being a responsible parent. The child’s room is not his room. It is your room, and he keeps his stuff in it. You have a right and an obligation to go through your teenager’s room looking for things that could harm your child.

Physical evidence of a drug problem

  • Joint butts, rolling papers
  • Small Alligator clip [roach clip]
  • Baggies and twist ties
  • Little bits of tin foil wadded up, folded, twisted into tubes
  • Pills, old pill bottles, candy containers
  • Charred glass pipes with wire mesh in one end
  • A hollowed out pen
  • Candles, lighters, butane torches
  • Razor blades
  • Q-tips, pipe cleaners, small wire brush
  • Scales
  • Broken bits of light bulb
  • Large amounts of peroxide
  • Syringes, needles
  • Elastic tourniquet or waist band from his underwear
  • Pipes, bongs
  • Charcoal looking residue on his towels
  • Crushed soda cans with slits in the depression
  • Large amounts of cash
  • Pornography
  • Pacifiers, glow sticks
  • Products designed to beat the drug test
  • Lots of air-freshener, room deodorant, or Lysol

The best defense is a good offence. Don’t wait until the brain damage is obvious before you do something about your at risk child. You can’t go by stereotypes to know whether your child is at risk for drug abuse. Methamphetamine addiction strikes in the wealthiest neighborhoods in this nation just like in the poorest trailer parks. Bright, healthy, happy kids can get addicted. Educated professionals can get addicted. There is no vaccine against drug abuse.

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