There has been a sharp increase in teenage drug use in the last few years. Thousands of children are being drawn into drug dealing.
And so for parents, the stakes have perhaps never felt so high. Negotiating parenthood in such a context is tricky to say the least, and can leave parents unsure of what to do and feeling they have little control.
Experts in teenage drug use tell us it’s about informed choices. They advise us to accept that as parents we are unlikely to stop our teenage children doing what they choose, and so, our best approach is to ensure they have the right information, and that they can discuss issues with us openly. In this way, we can help to reduce harm by ensuring teenagers are aware of the risks, and what to do if they need help.
Though this is indeed excellent advice, it is difficult for many parents to follow. My ongoing research looks at the experiences of parents whose children are taking drugs. They value the way practitioners can talk to their teenagers, and understand the value of the advised harm reduction approach.
Despite this, most parents I’ve spoken to have said their gut reaction is to respond differently: more zero tolerance than harm reduction. They tend to ground their children and stop their pocket money. Stories are littered with accounts of rows and escalating sanctions in an endless cycle of panic and rebellion.