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Sirius XM radio: how to tell if your kids are stoned

Hey kids, let's talk about drugs! (

Over the weekend Sirius XM’s Doctor Radio Reports ran a show called Is Your Kid High?—Teens Speak Out, which offered advice to parents on how to tell if your tweens/teens are doing drugs. I read with great interest the summary of the wisdom offered by Elizabeth Urquhar and Naveed Etemadipour of San Diego’s Phoenix House during this program, since I went through this complicated process myself with a teen.

Here’s Naveed’s advice:

  • If you are concerned your kid might be doing drugs, go into their rooms and open their drawers when they are not there—it’s ok to cross that boundary.
  • Pens are sometimes used to smoke marijuana and other drugs. Check to see if the pen smells burnt. You can take a pen apart and make a pipe out of it and then put it back together so that nobody knows that you’ve smoked out it.
  • Broken glass could indicate methamphetamine use because glass pipes are commonly used to smoke meth.
  • Crumbled tin foil is a possible indication of drug use.
  • Marijuana can be smoked out of almost anything.
  • Light bulbs can be used to do drugs.

Well, you can decide that it’s “ok to cross that boundary,” but rest assured, your girl or boy won’t. Let’s face it, if they’re late 12 to early 14, they’ve probably already got you down as Nurse Ratched or Uncle Fester—see above photo for the latter; perhaps not the most apt analogy since the Urban Dictionary defines an “Uncle Fester” as a way to smoke  pot. In any event, doing a J. Edgar Hoover on their their room, opening their drawers, pulling apart their pens and light bulbs, or rummaging about for “almost anything” because you think they’re smoking doobies is going to kill any trust left between you and them for years. So do this only if you think it’s absolutely necessary.

The Phoenix House duo also offer these “warning signs and changes to look out for in your child’s behavior and personality:”

  • Staying awake all night or sleeping all day.
  • Suddenly not eating with the family or not eating very much.
  • Eating lots more than they normally do.
  • Suddenly doing poorly in school.
  • Dropping out of once cherished activities.

Fine, but keep in mind that just about every one of these “warning signs” can happen to kids who aren’t doing drugs. Facebook has kept more than one teen up until four AM. I was a skinny high schooler who rarely took drugs but stayed out until one AM consistently through my mid- and late-teenage years. As for binge eating, doing poorly in school, and dropping out of favorite activities—depression, anxiety, and family problems can provoke these behaviors just as easily as dope.

So why don’t you start with the obvious—by just asking your child if they’re taking drugs. You can’t pose this question too early, to my mind; certainly as age 13 approaches.  Ask the lad or lass in an unexpected but friendly and casual style—like on the way to the ice cream parlor—with a smile on your face. “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask . . . you taking drugs?” Something like that. Make sure you’ve got eye contact while you talk.

If they’re getting stoned, you’ll know, even if s/he claims otherwise. Then you’ll need to explain and justify your Policy regarding drugs (you should figure this out in advance). Needless to say, unless your Policy is “take all the drugs you want,” it probably won’t be enforceable. But at least you’ve made several things clear: (1) you don’t want your child taking drugs and, more important, (2) you care about the kid.

If your tween/teen gets exasperated with you, just throw in something nonchalant like, “say, while we’re at it, it’s time for us to have a conversation about sex . . . ” That’ll show everybody who’s the boss.

Parenting. What fun!

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11 Responses to Sirius XM radio: how to tell if your kids are stoned

  1. Tom Degan February 15, 2010 at 6:59 am #

    I’ve known at least two-hundred people who have been killed by cigarettes.

    I’ve known at least that many people who have been killed by the bottle.

    And yet I have never known another human being who died from too much grass.

    I am not even aware of it happening in all recorded human history.

    Can someone please explain tom me why we still having this stupid conversation in the year 2010? It’s embarrassing.

    Tom Degan

  2. Robert Webb February 15, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    You should be embarrassed by your ignorance. As a parent who has lived through a child who’s life for the past 8 years has been consumed by a culture in which fools like Tom Degan minimize the affects of drugs I can tell you that it all started with marijuana. What Tom does not realize because he is probably smoking too much weed is that kids today do not use marijuana the way he does. They use it to warm up to ecstasy, LSD, cocaine, meth, mushrooms etc. One of the kids who first sold my son dope died three years ago from a drug overdose. He like my son started with marijuana and his parents, like Tom, minimized the impact of marijuana use on a person’s healthy development. They now, sadly, realize their error in judgment.

  3. Peter Trapino February 15, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    well i belive tom was minimizing the detrament of grass. Robert your gateway argument is null and void seeing as though most if not all people have smoked cigs or booze or caffeinne. The reason meth is so popular today is becouse of proabition. All the ingerdents are legal to obtain and possess til the time of manufacture. So would i want to sit and culitivate pot plants for 6-12 weeks than dryit out for a coule more days before i sell it. Or should i take 12 hours and make as much crystal meth as i want and sell it. The drug war breaks down to simple economics. On all sides. goverment agencys to jails to drug companys to banks to the dealers them selfs. WE ALL GET HIGH IN ARE OWN WAYS!! EVERYONE!!! Also love how i cant smoke a joint to unwind cuz you cant teach or watch over your kids.

  4. Pothead February 15, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    If you like Sirius XM then see their “rags to riches” story on DVD. The movie is called “Stock Shock” and it goes over the history, development, and near-death experience of the stock. I did not know the inventor of sirius xm was a woman!–well she is now, at least. DVD is cheaper at, but the DVD is pretty much everywhere for sale.

  5. Tom Degan February 15, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Robert, I am willing to bet you anything that it all started with beer. I had a very bad drug problem at one time, and it all started with alcohol. Is marijuana a “gate way drug” as so many people never tire of telling us? A good argument may be made that it is. But so is Pabst Blue Ribbon.

    People who use marijuana moderately lead very normal – even productive – lives. And would someone give me the name of one person it has ever killed? Just one?

    Tom Degan

  6. Joe Hoffman February 15, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    I love how their advice boils down to, “if you’re child is not eating much they are probably doing drugs. Also, if they are eating more than usual they are probably doing drugs”. If your kid’s are not eating the exact right amount they are doing drugs…This is the worst advice I’ve ever seen.

    You should not have to look through your kids belongings to see if they are smoking pot. It will pretty easy to tell…their’s a reason they call it skunk, and it does not wash out of your clothes very easily. Besides, you should have a healthy enough relationship with your children that they will feel comfortable enough to talk about this stuff with you.

    I know I was open with my parents because they didn’t create a hostile environment. There was no fear of judgement or retribution and now I am finishing my Masters degree. I know plenty of people my age who had over-protective parents who looked through their stuff. They have a horrible relationships with their children and their whole family is screwed up. Not to say I didn’t do my share of rebellion, it wasn’t all a bed of roses….

    This column has horrible advice…one of my reasons this country is falling apart…

  7. Joe Hoffman February 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    also, my website, just made it!
    WOO HOO!!!….and no I don’t make my work when I am high…

  8. Joe Hoffman February 15, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    well sometimes…though i just reread what I wrote…I should start doing some revising before I post to this stuff.

  9. Devon February 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    I smoke the green with both of my parents… college professors, now pops is the dean of academics, mother is retired. Didn’t smoke with them until I left for University… didn’t even know that they used to puff tough on the reg until I left home.

    I’m now a degreed engineer. Pretty much all of the engineer’s I know recreationally puff as well at end of a long day. It’s much easier on the system than alcohol, not to mention much more therapeutic.

  10. Helen Yamamoto February 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    That advice (from the article) is absolutely horrible unless you’re attempting to develop an indestructible sense of distrust between yourself and your child, and the “warning signs” that they describe are idiotic.

    Robert, no offense, but I doubt that living vicariously through your child gives you the authority to claim that marijuana is a gateway drug. True, harder drugs, such as meth, do often destroy individuals, but putting that blame on MJ is simply wrong. As a college-aged individual with a number of friends and acquaintances in high school and college, I’d be curious in learning the ages of the “kids” that you mention. Also, I’m not sure if this has been medically shown, but I’m pretty sure that it’s impossible to overdose on MJ.

  11. mitch February 17, 2010 at 8:23 am #

    Why did I click the link. This article has no usable information. The advice, if that is what they call it, is the junkiest advice I’ve ever heard. It will not lead you to finding anything out from your kids and the stupid paraphenalia clues sound more like crackhead stuff or methhead stuff than entry level pot paraphenalia. I hope my kids stay clean and I hope I can figure out what they are doing in a positive way, but this article sure doesn’t seem to have anything of merit in it.

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