What Do I Do If My Son Is Dealing Drugs?

Suspecting your son is dealing drugs? Understand the main signs of drug dealing and learn how can you intervene to help your teen in trouble.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: There are distinct signs that your child is dealing drugs. This article identifies the main signs of drug dealing and outlines how parents can intervene to help teens in trouble.


Teens Sell Drugs to Other Teens

Parents are always on the lookout for signs of drug use in their teens and with good reason as the latest drug use statistics in the US indicate that drugs like marijuana, hallucinogens, and opiates are popular among adolescents.

The sad truth is that your teen is most likely to get drugs from his friends, classmates or peers. Being at an experimental stage in their lives, it’s not uncommon for teens to introduce each other to drugs. This brings to light another dilemma parent should be aware of- that of teen drug dealers.

When you think of teens who deal drugs, a stereotypical image of a hoodie-clad, pants-sagging teen who likes hanging out in back alleys or by the corner store probably crosses your mind. This cliché no longer suffices and teen drug dealers nowadays might not stand out all that much from other teens. In fact, if your teen son’s behavior changes dramatically and you suspect that drugs are involved, he might not be using but peddling them instead.

How To Tell If Your Son Is Selling Drugs

Suspecting your son of dealing drugs can be a heartbreaker. Often, kids deal in order to support their own growing habit. But being aware of the signs can help you intervene early. Earlier intervention is better, and can lead to successful treatment outcomes in young people who are struggling with a drug addiction. Here are some red flags to look out for:

1. New Expensive Clothes and Gadgets.

One of the most obvious signs that your son might be selling drugs is the sudden appearance of expensive-looking clothes or the latest electronic gadgets that you didn’t purchase for him and know he can’t afford. All over sudden, your son seems to have cash that he’s not afraid to spend.

2. Extensive, Suspicious Phone Use.

While teens nowadays certainly spend an inordinate amount of time on their phones, a change in your son’s phone usage might be cause for concern. If he suddenly starts receiving a lot of text messages from random numbers or an increase in very short calls and he leaves shortly afterward, he could be making drug drop-offs.

3. A New Crowd of Friends.

Teens who peddle drugs often abandon their old friends for those likely to buy drugs from them or otherwise support their drug dealing. Be suspicious if these new friends keep dropping over unannounced at random times for short visits.

4. Loss of Interest in Sports or His Studies.

If your son is selling drugs, you might notice that he’s lost interest in sports, his studies or other hobbies he used to enjoy before. Drug dealing and his new flashy lifestyle might be taking up a large portion of his time, resulting in a drop in grades and a lack of extracurricular activities unless they’re a way for him to sell more drugs.

5. A Drastic Change In Behavior.

Teens are prone to outbursts, withdrawal and other behavior changes. However, drastic behavior changes are often indicative of an underlying problem. For instance, your previously outgoing teen might become secretive and withdrawn or he might become angry, disrespectful or defiant. Furthermore, he might start keeping odd hours, leaving the house or sneaking away without saying where he’s going.

What Should You Do Now?

It’s important to note that on their own, the signs above aren’t indicative of drug dealing. However, taken together, they might paint a different picture. So what do you do next after noticing a combination of these troubling red flags?

First, look for his stash.

Whether using or dealing drugs, teens usually keep a stash somewhere. Finding your son’s drug cache will give you more ammunition when confronting him. The drugs might be hidden in clever places like stuck to the bottom of drawers, under mattresses or dressers, in books, gadgets or toys. Make a thorough inspection of the whole house, not just his room.

Then, think before you act.

Nothing prepares you for the emotions that come after finding your teen’s drug stash. You’re likely to get angry, confused and concerned all in short order. While your emotions are justified, you’ll need to take some time and collect yourself before confronting your son. Reacting emotionally only guarantees that the conversation with your son gets nowhere fast. He might clam up and shut down when you need him to open up.

So, come up with a game plan.

Once you’ve calmed down, start preparing yourself for the inevitable conversation you’ll have with your son. You might want to do your own research on the drugs you’ve found, the laws surrounding drug peddling in your state and anything else that will increase your confidence when facing your son. Also, decide on your approach and the course of action you wish to take with him.

Let your son talk.

Listening to your son might be the last thing you want to do but it’s important to give him a chance to explain himself. Ask questions, find out where he gets the drugs from and why he sells them. Teens get involved with drugs for a variety of reasons– some might be coerced and forced into it while others might do it just to look cool or fit it. Listening to your son can give you some insight into the root cause of the problem, hence a clue on how to set things right.

Set solid ground rules and limits.

When talking to your son, make sure you let him know the consequences of his actions including possible jail time if he doesn’t stop. Don’t be afraid to outline new rules and limits and the steps you’ll take if he breaks them – and be willing to stick to them. This might include calling the authorities on your son, should it come to that

Get him professional help.

There’s always a chance that your son won’t heed your call to change. He might ignore all warnings, break all rules and keep on selling drugs. When this happens, it’s important to acknowledge your limitations and seek professional help.

In other cases, your son’s drug dealing might be indicative of deeper emotional or behavioral issues that need professional help to change. You can look for help from his school counselor or from a therapist who specializes in such adolescent cases. Alternatively, your son might benefit from intensive therapy such as the one provided at a therapeutic boarding school.

Your Questions

Finding out that your son is a drug dealer can be devastating. However, help is available to help him get his life together. Try to suspend your panic. Seek professional help and intervene in a calm, thoughtful way.

Let’s verify the coverage for treatment at an American Addiction Centers location. Your information is always confidential.


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About the author
Tyler is a freelance writer/journalist, with past experience as the head content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. His areas of focus include: parenting, education, social media, addiction, and issues facing teenagers today.
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