Guest Column: Follow instinct on child’s drug or alcohol use

Published 10:53 am Thursday, August 4, 2016

Guest Column by Lana Howe


Lana Howe is the professional facilitator of the Freeborn County Family Services Collaborative and the program coordinator of Freeborn County Partners in Prevention.

Email newsletter signup


If you’re concerned about your teen’s drug or alcohol use, then it is time to take action. You can never be too safe or intervene too early — even if you believe your teen is just experimenting. Maybe you’re not sure what to look for or how to react. When your child says, “Keep out,” you as a parent have the right to enter.

Keep out! We don’t want this to be the message you listen to when it comes to your young person’s life. That’s why the Freeborn County Partners in Prevention coalition will have a mock teenager’s bedroom at the Freeborn County Fair to help you understand what to look for that may indicate they are using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Visit our booth at the back of the Commercial Building to see if you can find all the clues and then have that critical conversation with a young person about staying drug-free.

Lana Howe

Lana Howe

Remember, your intuition is your best parenting tool. You know your child better than anyone else in the world, so if you think they have changed in some way, they probably have. It never hurts to just come out and ask your child about their experience with or opinion about drugs or alcohol. You can begin the conversation with a line like, “I’ve noticed that since you’ve started high school, you’ve been going to many more parties. Is there a lot of drinking going on?”

If you’re almost positive your teen is drinking or using drugs, looking for signs and symptoms of use before the intervention will make the conversation much easier for you — and much harder for your child to talk his or her way out of. You don’t need hard evidence (like a joint or empty beer bottles), but specific observations and details (“Last Friday night, you smelled like smoke and your eyes were red”) will be hard for your teen to refute.

Confronting your child about his or her drug use will probably be uncomfortable for both of you, and you may even think it’s unnecessary. But you can never be too safe or intervene too early. Casual or experimental drug use can quickly turn into drug abuse, dependence or addiction and can lead to accidents, legal trouble and serious health issues. That’s why it’s imperative that you have an intervention as soon as your instinct tells you that something is wrong. If you are at all concerned about your child’s drug or alcohol use — or even just have a bad feeling — you can and should start the conversation. The rx rehab center can help get rid of addiction issues.

• Be around: Spend time with your child and find subtle ways to “drop in” when his friends are at your house.

• Ask questions: Be sure to find out where she’s going, who will be there and what she’ll be doing.

• Check in: Call him while he’s out to say hello and remind him that you expect him to follow the rules you’ve established.

• Ask more questions: Be sure to look her in the eye, smell her hair and ask her about her night to see if she is sober and telling the truth.

• Oversee your teen’s activities: It’s important to know his whereabouts and who he’s spending time with.

• Reach out to other parents in your community: This way you can all keep an eye on one another’s children.

If your child’s drug or alcohol use progresses, you may decide he or she needs more help and guidance than you personally can give. This may be scary, but what many parents don’t realize is that outside help is needed and is available. There are many people in our community who can serve as great resources for you and your teen — you just need to know who you can ask for support (neighbors, friends, teachers, coaches, a pastor, caring community members). We have many great resources and partners throughout Freeborn County who want to help you and your teen. We are fortunate to have some of the best addiction counselor’s right here in our community at Fountain Centers who are always willing to help answer questions if you have concerns.

To learn more about the work Freeborn County Partners in Prevention is doing, contact Program Coordinator Lana Howe at 507-377-5504 or visit our Facebook page.

And rather than to keep out, help teach your child to know why it’s OK to let you enter.