Parents worried that their kids are using illegal substances often don't know where to turn for safe, confidential help. A first step can be talking to a family doctor or pediatrician. The doctor will interview the teen confidentially -- notifying parents, of course, if the teen risks harming himself or someone else. If there is detectable cause for concern, the doctor will work with families to find affordable inpatient or outpatient treatment.
About a year after first meeting with Mike, I spoke with his mother again. With outpatient therapy and the support of his family, Mike seemed to be staying drug-free. His report card showed a return to success, and his behavior at home had similarly improved. I was thrilled to hear of Mike's progress, but still wished I could have helped Mike and his family achieve those goals without the intrusion and disruption of that drug test.
Dr. Linda Reid Chassiakos is director of the Klotz Student Health Center at Cal State Northridge and a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at UCLA.