Thursday 19 July 2018

Dear Mary: We don't want drugs in our home

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Mary O'Conor

Can you please outline how you would discuss taking drugs with a 20-year-old year man and how to manage a plan of action? For six months his dad and I have noted changes in our son's mood, timekeeping, diet and commitment to his part-time job.

We had a parent and son talk over the weekend after he came home towards dawn with obvious physical signs and he admitted taking ecstasy. We discussed the dangers of his experimenting, and the usual pointers of addiction, respect and life choices were explored.

He knows that we don't agree with drugs or want them in our home. There are siblings in both primary and secondary school.

He is in first year at college studying the course he wanted and is a fine loving, gentle young man.

We have a happy home and spend time together. But as his social life is developing he is not keeping time agreements to be home and there are no texts confirming safety, etc.

I'm worried as he seems to not have the maturity to reason out his choice of actions and responsibilities and outcomes.

We have a strict household but since leaving school we have been letting him have more freedom.

He was brave to own up and apologise but he doesn't seem to have reasons as to why he did it.

I feel we need to support him to keep his word to stop the activity.

Mary replies:  He did what he did because he could, and because he is 20 and striking out on his own. He also probably wants to be one of the gang as lots of his peers are doing the same thing. Parenting is very hard at times but you have done everything right so far. But he very definitely needs parental guidance, and parental awareness, and to be told that it is OK to say no. You have opened the dialogue, and will continue to do so, which is so important. Users of E claim that it is non-addictive, but surely any mood altering substance - including alcohol and cigarettes - has the possibility of becoming addictive.

One of the worrying things about E - a Class A drug in the UK - is that as it is made up of chemicals users cannot be sure of what they are getting.

Six months is quite a long time and if he is using it more than at weekends then that is serious use.

But hanging in there with him, checking how things are going - even though he may not want you to - and encouraging him to bring his friends home is the best way to keep communication open between you.

His on-going college assessments and end of term results should let you see if his partying and E consumption is interfering with his studies in which case your objections will be even more valid.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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