My Son Got Arrested for Possessing Illegal Narcotics. How Do We Handle This?
My 21 year old son recently got arrested for possessing illegal narcotics. He was at some event or party, the police raided the place, and they found a bunch of drugs on him. I’m not even sure what he had on him, but I think I remembered the police saying something about cocaine, ecstasy and speed.
He ended up spending the night in jail and we were then allowed to bail him out the next day. Of course my husband and I were shocked. We had no idea he used drugs in any form. We’ve always trusted him to go out and about with his friends and not do anything silly. I’ve always known he drinks ... most kids do at that age ... but this has taken us completely by surprise.
We just don’t know how to handle this. First there are the legal implications. He has to go back to court and I worry what will happen. He may get a criminal record and that’s a terrible thing to have. Then, how serious is his drug using? Is he a drug addict? Do we need to get him help?
This is all just so unexpected and has totally thrown our world upside down. Any advice would be most welcome.
As hard as it is, the first thing I suggest is that you try and stay calm through all this. I’m sure you feel like your son has let you down and are no doubt angry and disappointed - but holding onto those thoughts and emotions is not going to help the situation.
Okay, but first onto the practicalities. The most important thing as parents I believe you need to do – is to let your son fully experience the consequences of his actions. Because I’m sure your over-riding instinct is the need to want to protect your son by for example hiring expensive lawyers to make this problem ‘go away.’ And if you are leaning towards doing that – my suggestion is don’t. Because then your son learns nothing about the impact making bad choices have –and is then far more likely to do something similar again. He has to take full responsibility for his behaviour and the choices he’s made ... it’s the only way he’ll learn. So let the law take it’s natural course and fully accept whatever punishment is deemed necessary for your son. I do think though for a first offence a criminal record is unlikely.
As for whether he’s a drug addict, that’s a difficult one to answer because it doesn’t seem like you know how long he’s been using drugs or to what extent. This may simply be a phase he’s going through where he’s experimenting and socially using various illegal substances. Many grow out if it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do anything because he may in fact have a problem or may well develop one in time. So I would suggest begin by sending him for counselling with someone who specialises in substance abuse and addictions. They’ll be able to help you determine how serious a problem he has and what further course of action is necessary, e.g. addiction treatment
. Just take it one step at a time though and cross that bridge should that be the case.
But I think the most important thing in all of this is how you as parents respond. Rather than use the naughty school child approach where you threaten and punish (as tempting as that may be) -I think the best way to handle this is to treat your son as an adult and behave and respond accordingly. Let him know you’re disappointed and upset etc., but do it in a calm and measured way. Tell him what your expectations of him are and that you feel he’s most of all let himself down. Because if you go over the top, he’s just likely to get defensive, whereas if you have a heart-felt discussion with him, your message is far more likely to get through and the impact of what he's done may really hit home.
Hopefully this is just a once off and something your son learns from. I know this is hard for you as a parent, but you'll get through this. And if your son does have a problem worse than you realised, get yourselves to Naranon or Al Anon meetings, which are for family and loved one's of addicts and alcoholics. You'll receive wonderful support and learn a great deal from others parents and family members who know what you're going through.
Good Luck and God Bless