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What Are Our Legal Rights with a Teenager that is Using both Drugs and Alcohol?

by Joanna
(Virginia )

I have a 16yr old step son who lives with his mother and has recently started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol on a regular basis and admits it. He is totally out of control and no one in the family seems to know what they can do or what they should do! Or are afraid to do anything and continue to let it go.

Is there anything legally we can do i.e. bring in the police, have him arrested? No one seems to be able to get to him. He has major anger problems, depression and now this drug thing. His mom's a mess in her own life. I am afraid he might do something drastic if drastic measures aren't taken soon. Please help!


Hi Joanne

We can't give definitive legal opinions on the site. But as a 16 year old, he's under the legal age for drinking, and marijuana is illegal - so I in theory you would be able to have him arrested.

But I'm not sure how productive that would be. It's not uncommon for kids of that age to start experimenting with alcohol and drugs. Doesn't mean it should be condoned, but if your reaction is over the top, it may just alienate him totally and cause even more of a problem.

If there is a definite problem - which it sounds like due to the depression and anger you mention as well - he needs professional help. Some Counseling to begin with may be a good start? If he's out of control there must be an underlying psychological cause that needs addressing, which only a professional can help him with.

Getting him arrested should only be a last resort if he becomes physically abusive or threatening in any way - and if that's the case then don't hesitate to contact the authorities. No one should have to live in fear over how someone else might react.

The main thing is also not to let yourselves become a door mat to his moods and behavior. If he's living with you and wants to continue doing so - make it clear he has to live by your rules. But when you talk to him, talk to him calmly and like an adult - because otherwise he'll just get defensive and nothing will get through.

Dealing with addiction in a teenager is any parents worst nightmare. There is no perfect way of handling things. Sometimes their out of control behavior is just a passing phase, but you still can't do nothing. You have to find a balance between being firm yet loving.

So hopefully you find a way to deal with the situation that is effective. It might mean having to try various approaches before you get through to him.

Best of Luck and Take Care

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