Parental Reactions

Parents called into the emergency room in a crisis are sometimes shocked to learn about their child’s drug use. Most parents in the 90’s still condemned drug use in youth. 13   Although a third of users report that at least one of their parents knows something about their drug use, this generally refers to marijuana or alcohol use only.  The majority of teenagers do not feel that their parents can cope with anything more that this and are too ignorant about drugs to deal with the problem rationally. Consequently, most drug-using teenagers do not feel it is worth discussing for the sake of resolving their parents’ anxieties.

Rebelliousness and teenagers are often linked in a stereotypical way based on appearances. Investigating deeper, however, there are two different issues which occur during adolescence; 1) performance standards fall, and 2) extremes are explored.  A shift of priorities often occurs in the teenager’s mind and new values are tried out that may be opposed to old ones. When parents first learn about their child’s involvement with drugs, they may target that as a reason for distressing developmental behavior changes noticed over a period of months or years.  Parents may even take the stance that their child has been victimized and corrupted by others.  Nurses may need to separate parents from their teenagers if discussion involving family dynamics upstages the immediate need for managing the medical/psychological crisis of the patient.