Worse Than You Realized: Is Your Teen Dealing?
Parenting a teenager is hard enough without even considering the topic of alcohol and drug use. But the unfortunate reality is that the contemporary adolescent faces many more pressures and temptations than their counterparts from a generation before, which means that the contemporary parent also faces more challenges and needs to be one step ahead.
What are signs that my teen might be a drug dealer?
Change – As a general rule, any type of dramatic change in the behavior of a teenager—from academic performance to social life—could signal a problem (although not necessarily dealing).
Possession – Finding a substance (Read Identifying Substances: How to Know What You’ve Found), paraphernalia, or fake IDs doesn’t necessarily mean that your teen is dealing; however, large amounts could be a sign. But before you dismiss a small amount as “experimentation” or a “phase” that even you went through, know that any amount can lead to other problems for both you and your child (Read Parents & Pills: Unintentional Drug Dealers, and Parent Liability for Underage Drinking).
Living Large – Has your teen purchased some expensive items that they shouldn’t have been able to afford based on what you know of their savings, allowance, and income from work? If your adolescent wears nicer clothes than you do, you may want to investigate where their income is coming from.
Lots of New Friends – Whether it’s because of the drugs or the money, a dealing teen may have a sudden, otherwise unexplainable increase in numbers of people who want to spend time with them.
Privacy – All teens want – and need – privacy; and many would prefer to spend time with anyone other than family. Isolation could also be a sign of depression or other issues. But if your juvenile’s recent need for privacy seems uncharacteristic and other signs are present, it could be drug dealing.
Phone Use – Although many teenagers like to talk on the phone with friends, if their phone use increases – or if they start getting many calls at all times of day and night from numbers that you don’t recognize, they may be in contact with customers and suppliers.
Aggression/Hostility – Teenagers can be moody, but if your teen starts becoming violent and inexplicably angry or threatens you or others, you should be concerned.
Weapons – If you find a knife or gun in your teenager’s possession, you should definitely ask them what it’s for and how they obtained it. Hopefully, they only wanted it as a self-defense “back up” in case something went wrong with a deal and weren’t intending to use it punitively.
Going Out More – If their social calendar seems to be filling up more quickly than usual, make sure you know whom they plan to spend time with and what they will be doing. Clearly, dealing is not an activity that they would want to be doing at home.
Trouble – Maybe you’re getting more calls from teachers and administration about poor academic performance, unexplained absences, or fights at school; or maybe you’ve had to bail your child out of jail after they were caught with the substance. Increased defiance of authority and other types of trouble could be signs of a teen who is dealing.
What should I do if I suspect that my teen is dealing?
Be nosy and figure out how your teen is spending their time, where their money is coming from, and who their friends are. You may want to consult an attorney before confronting them (Read How to Talk to a Teen about Drugs) to see if you have any legal ability to force them into rehab (Read Teen Addiction and Rehab). To get immediate advice on your situation, call eDrugRehab at 1-866-902-0610.