Use these scenarios and helpful suggestions to help successfully navigate future similar situations.

Read each of the following scenarios, and think about how you’d respond.

Then, click the green bar below each suggestion to reveal suggestions that could prove helpful if you encounter a similar situation with your adolescent or teen.

Got a light?

While doing the family laundry, you find a lighter stuffed inside your 12-year-old son’s pants pocket. A little online research reveals such a discovery is fairly common, and you don’t smell tobacco or marijuana on him or his clothes. You ask what he needs a lighter for, and he says he likes the way it looks and he uses it to perform cool tricks for friends. What should you tell him next?

Obviously fire is nothing to play with. But does your son also know your rules about smoking marijuana? It may be a good time to explain that often times, when people carry lighters it’s a sign that they smoke cigarettes or use other drugs such as marijuana. It’s also a good opportunity to ask your son what he knows about drugs, and what he thinks about people who use them. You can also share some of the legal consequences in this site’s Know the Law section.

A little (Rx) help from her friends

Your 18-year-old daughter is almost through her first semester of college. There’s just one thing: that dreaded Accounting 101 final. You learn your daughter took some prescribed pills offered by a “helpful” roommate to help her focus on schoolwork. No harm done?

There are several ways to approach this situation. First, it’s important to ask your daughter why she felt she needed to take the pills, and talk through her decision. It’s important to reiterate that it’s always dangerous to take someone else’s medication. Even if the drug seems harmless, you don’t know how your body will react to it. This is also an opportunity to talk with your daughter about your continued expectations for her, even though she’s a young adult and living away from home. Taking a drug you don’t need is unsafe, and that’s not acceptable. Finally, the truth is everything about this situation is illegal. Prescribed medication is a controlled substance and possessing it without a prescription can result in criminal charges. The roommate could also face charges for distribution of a controlled substance.

Party Emergencies

Knowing he is heading to a party in a few days, you’re talking with your 17-year-old son about alcohol and marijuana use, and the misuse of prescription medications or other drugs. You mention that it’s against the law for him and his friends to drink alcohol, have marijuana or use drugs, and that they would be in trouble if the police show up. Is there anything else about the law he should know?

While it’s good to make sure your son knows the legal consequences of underage use of alcohol and marijuana, and the dangers of prescription medication misuse, it’s also important he understands what to do if someone drinks too much, has trouble with marijuana consumption, or overdoses and needs emergency medical attention. Someone should always call 9-1-1 if there’s an emergency. Even if your son has been drinking alcohol, using marijuana or any type of drugs, he will not be in legal trouble if he calls 9-1-1, provides his name, and waits for emergency crews to arrive so he can provide them with information.(C.R.S. 18-18-406(1)), C.R.S. 18-18-406(4aI, II), C.R.S. 18-18-406(3)

Growing Up Fast

You and your 13-year-old daughter saw the big, new blockbuster, and unfortunately the star smoked marijuana and drank alcohol. Over ice cream afterward, you seize the chance to ask about your daughter’s attitudes about using marijuana and alcohol, and she reveals she’s actually been to a party where underage drinking occurred. What’s your next move?

Try to get to know your daughter’s friends and their parents. Also, knowing where future parties are held, and who is attending and supervising is key. Let your daughter know she has plenty of options if she finds herself in a similar situation again. One is to call you. Another is to hang out with other friends who are trying new activities. And let her know she can communicate with you … because you’re there to help.

Uncomfortable Questions

You’re at the dinner table one night enjoying a family meal when suddenly your 14-year-old daughter asks, “Mom, did you ever do drugs?” After buying some time by taking a long gulp of water you need to answer. What do you say?

If you’ve never experimented with drugs, you can easily share the truth with your daughter and tell her your reasons for avoiding them. However, if you have experimented with drugs in the past, this can still be an opportunity to share positive messages. Remember, if you lie and one day your daughter discovers the truth, your credibility will take a hit and you’ll have some explaining to do. If you choose to reveal your past experience, tell her what interested you about drugs in the first place, and why those interests were misguided. For example, “My friends used them, and I wanted to fit in,” or, “I didn’t know back then about all the bad things drugs can do to the body, to your future.” Let your children benefit from your experience.