Taking Control When You Suspect Your Teen Is Dealing Drugs


It’s one thing to suspect or get confirmation that your teen is using drugs. It can feel like an entirely different and frightening situation if you suspect that your teen is dealing drugs. You may be flooded with questions, worries, anger, and so much more.

How do you address this situation?

How can you protect your teen and the other members of your family?

How can you take control back?

There are almost countless resources for parents who suspect that their teen is using drugs, but there isn’t always a clear source for working out whether your teen is selling the drugs.

It is essential to be mindful of the legal consequences that your troubled teen could be facing if the authorities catch them. The mandatory minimum sentence for dealing drugs is often determined by drugs and the age of the person selling.

The sooner you can step in and have frank conversations, the better odds you will have at keeping your teen from facing life-altering consequences.

How can you tell if he is dealing or just using drugs?

The signs of a teen using drugs are often more evident than the signs of him being a dealer. It’s important to be aware of and recognize both so that you can do your part to help and protect your adolescent.

Signs your teen may be dealing drugs, include:

  • Does he seem to have money without apparent reason? Suddenly being flush with cash is one of the biggest red flags that your teen is dealing drugs. Some may hold down a job as a cover for having an income, but his spending may exceed what he can make working in retail or food services.
  • Some of the signs of a dealer include having notebooks or digital records of their purchases and sales. This is important for many dealers as it can prove difficult otherwise to track their cash flow. Everything could be written in code and make almost no sense to you.
  • Excessive texting isn’t always a red flag, but if your teen has added a second or third device to his collection, this is likely a sign that he doesn’t want you to view his messages and call history.
  • Paraphernalia and equipment all over his room or hidden in the house can point to him being a dealer. Some of the paraphernalia could point to him being a drug user. Pipes, lighters, as an example. A dealer is more likely to have small plastic bags, scales, razor blades, and cutting agents.

Your teen may also be increasingly secretive, argumentative, and be unreasonably irritable if you go into his bedroom or car without his permission.

First steps to addressing if your teen is dealing drugs

While you are likely to be flooded with anger and frustration, remember that clear heads are more likely to prevail. Before you can confront your teen about using and dealing drugs, you need to make sure that you have the right support system for yourself. This is going to be a situation infused with stress and high running emotions.

Discuss your concerns with your co-parent and determine what your approach is going to be. All involved parents must form a united front against major issues like this one.

  • In situations where parents are divorced, it can be easy to blame one another. It’s important to remember that this situation is about your troubled teen and not about your relationship issues. Remind one another that neither of you are to blame.
  • Commit to forming a united front and keeping your focus on your teen. This is not the time to undermine one another or speak ill of each other.
  • Keep in mind that your conversations need to come from a place of love and concern. The anger and stress you’re feeling is understandable, but it’s not the right place when you’re speaking with your teenager.

If you need additional support, you could find it through his school. Counselors, coaches, teachers, and other school administrators can often provide valuable information and support resources.

Getting therapy for yourself can also be beneficial. There are many resources that can provide professional mental health support as your family addresses this crisis.

Every person involved in his life should be on the same page and prepared to deal with the potential fallout of confronting a defensive drug-dealing teen.

Prepare for the conversation with your troubled teen

It’s not going to be easy to take on this conversation and take back control of your family and home. It’s going to be an uncomfortable conversation for you to have, and keep in mind that it’s going to be incredibly uncomfortable for your teen. He’s going to feel attacked and ambushed.

Be prepared for him to say shocking and hurting things. Your teen is likely going to hurl insults and combative questions in your direction. Take care not to get baited into insulting him back or saying things out of anger.

What could some of these outbursts be like? You’re a hypocrite! If you’ve used drugs in the past and been honest about your history with your teen, it’s likely going to come up. Remain calm and focus on the issues at hand. Remind your teen that you quit using drugs because they can negatively impact so many aspects of your life.

You may be accused of being a bad parent who doesn’t love their children. You may hear profanity that is disrespectful and hurtful.

If the situation gets out of control, take a break. Even just a timeout for an hour can help everyone to cool down.

Set realistic expectations

You will find that things will move smoother if you know what your expectations are from the conversation. Keep your expectations realistic as it’s not likely that your first conversation will result in your teen putting a halt to his drug dealing.

  • Set small goals that are realistic for your teen and your family as a whole. Perhaps your first conversation simply wants him to acknowledge that dealing drugs is a serious and bad thing to be engaged in.
  • Establish and remind your teen of the household rules and the consequences attached for breaking those rules.
  • Get help when needed. It’s tempting to keep family issues close to the vest and not seek out help for concerns you are faced with. However, dealing drugs is not the same as using drugs or abusing alcohol. This is a serious crime that can result in serious time behind bars.

If at any point you do not feel safe or the safety of your family is compromised, do not hesitate to seek help from law enforcement. The reality is that drug dealing can often bring several potential dangers for the dealer and those around him.

Sometimes it can prove helpful to remove your troubled teen from the environment that led him to drug use and drug dealing. A therapeutic boarding school can offer him the support and structure that he needs to refocus his life. With mental health professionals on hand, ready to provide a targeted treatment plan, your teen will be able to get the treatment he needs as an individual. Call Liahona Academy to find out more about your options.

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