What To Do When You Catch Your Son Stealing From The Medicine Cabinet
Unfortunately, a lot of teens don’t understand just how severe prescription drug abuse can be. Some of the most commonly abused prescriptions include pain killers, sleep aids, and stimulants. Teens have also turned to over the counter medications like Robitussin or Nyquil. They’re even easier to find than prescription meds, and they can have some notable side effects.
Experimental drug abuse of any sort can lead to long term health problems and addiction. If you are worried that your teen son is struggling with addiction, get help from a trained therapist. Teen addiction can start a life-long cycle of using and abusing drugs and alcohol. Many teens struggling with addiction find help by attending a therapeutic boarding school. At Sundance Canyon Academy, we have helped countless teens overcome addiction and learn to make better decisions.
Warning signs of prescription drug addiction
Thankfully, experimentation with drugs does not always lead to addiction. The sooner you can help your teen curb their drug abuse, the more likely they will be to move on without developing an addiction. That’s why it’s good to know what to look for so you can spot the warning signs of addiction.
Some common addiction warning signs include:
Significant mood or energy changes. Teens who misuse pharmaceuticals typically do so because they like the way it makes them feel. It might give them more energy, make them sleepy, or help them feel numb. If you notice that your teen’s energy level fluctuates drastically or that their moods have significant ups and downs, they might be using drugs.
Change in pupil size. Different drugs will change the size of your pupils when you use them. Dilated or pin-point pupils are typically a sign of drug use.
Being secretive. While most adolescents do want more alone time in their teen years, they are not always secretive. Take note if your teen is vague about where they’re going, who they’re hanging out with, or what they’re doing. Similarly, you should be suspicious if they don’t want you ever to go in their room or if they always keep a personal item (like a particular backpack) within their sight.
Your medication goes missing. If you notice that over the counter medications are getting used quicker than usual or that you are missing some of your prescription medications, your teen might be taking them.
Change in priorities. Teens who start using drugs often change their priorities. Their school performance might drop, or they might quit a sport that used to matter to them. You might also see that they don’t hang out with the same friends or go to the same social activities.
How to address teen prescription abuse
Talk about it
If you suspect that your teen might be abusing prescription drugs, talk to them about it. While many parents have conversations with their kids about the dangers of trying alcohol and marijuana, most don’t have the same discussion about prescriptions. Ensure that your kid knows that prescription drugs can be extremely addictive and that they can be very dangerous if misused.
The teen years coincide with an increase in risk-taking behavior and a decrease in forethought, and teens don’t always think through the consequences of their actions. If your teen has started hanging around with other kids who use drugs, they might be persuaded to try something new without thinking about the health consequences.
Lock up your medications
Most teens get prescription medications from their parents’ medicine cabinet or a friend’s parents’ medicine cabinet. If you catch your son stealing from the medicine cabinet, it’s time to lock up your medications. Either get a better medicine cabinet or start keeping the medications somewhere more inaccessible.
If you haven’t directly caught your son stealing your medications, but you’re concerned that he or his new friends might steal them, go ahead and lock up your medications.
Dispose of old medications
If you have leftover medications that you no longer need, dispose of them properly. By keeping them around, you’re providing more opportunity for your teen to take them and misuse them.
Get professional help
If you catch your son stealing from the medicine cabinet, then you know for sure he’s doing something with the meds that he’s not supposed to. Whether he’s taking them to get or high, he’s bringing them to school and selling them, he’s misusing them. And that’s a big deal.
Remember that the effects of addiction and delinquent behavior can be mitigated if they are addressed quickly. Some parents resort to sending their son to a military school or boot camp to address the issue, but they rarely work. Yes, they work for a time; but the long-term outcomes aren’t great. Look for a therapist who will work with your son to address his behavior directly and help him learn to make positive life choices.
If your son’s behavior is getting out of hand at home, you might want to consider sending him to a therapeutic boarding school. Teen drug abuse is often influenced by peer pressure. If your son is spending too much time with negative friends even though you’ve tried to intervene, you might need to remove him from those friends and place him in a more positive environment.