Over the decades I am sadly humbled when teens and tweens come in for vague physical complaints and I find them to be either pregnant, under the influence of some illicit substance or both.
I practice in a busy suburban area so this is not the stereotypical area where one thinks of as high risk for these behaviors- but the fact is MOST drug use occurs in suburbia, NOT the inner cities.
Often, parents are still in this day and era in the DENIAL mode that their child could ever be using drugs so they are incredulous when I have to inform them that the only thing abnormal about their exam and testing is that their kids urine tested positive for THC (the active metabolite in cannabis that is usually tested). Opiates, amphetamines, heroin and alcohol are also common.
I train the medical residents that any young person under 30 should be tested for drugs as this is a common reason for their “abdominal pains” -most of the times from the withdrawal effects.
Then what to do?
1. Have candid talks with your tween or teen about drugs
2. Assume they already know and have already been tempted with drugs
3. Ask their doctor to routinely check them for illicit use during their annual checks
4. Spend quality OFF-LINE time with your tweens/teens -even if they say they don’t want to
5. Monitor their social media periodically
With the above precautions it will be less likely that you become one of the parents blindsided with a child whose drug use has gotten so advanced that it reflects in their school work, interpersonal relationships or adversely affects their health and future.
Prepare for the worst, hope and pray for the best.