Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Can Your Son’s Texts Clue You in to Drug Abuse?

A recent study explored teenagers and their use of texting as well as how those texts can help parents identify problematic issues like drug and alcohol abuse. The study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, found that teens who texted their friends about things like drug use or fighting were more likely to indulge in those behaviors—but they also found that teens weren’t just texting about the bad stuff. They were also likely to use the communication form to encourage one another and be positive, as well.

Antisocial Behavior and Antisocial Texting

Samuel Ehrenreich is a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas–Dallas. In a university news release, he said, “We examined how discussing antisocial behavior—substance abuse, property crimes, physical aggression, that sort of thing—predicts actually engaging in this problem behavior. Basically, does talking about bad behavior predict bad behavior?”

By looking at the texts of 172 high school freshmen, the researchers found that only about 2 percent of all texts were about antisocial behavior of any kind, but they also found a strong link between these texts and the antisocial behavior exhibited by those students.

Said Ehrenreich: “We know that peers are really influential in an adolescent’s development. We also know that peer influence can lead to antisocial behavior at times, and this form of communication provides a new opportunity for peer influence.”

What Can You Learn From Your Son’s Texts?

Parents have every right to look through their child’s communications with others and, in fact, are encouraged to know with whom their son is texting, communicating on social media sites, and spending time in general. In most cases, what you find will be harmless enough, but in some cases it can help you to identify drug use and abuse. How? Look for:

  • Slang terms that you don’t recognize that may be referencing drugs or drug use
  • References to people you don’t know, including nicknames
  • References to places or events that you were unaware your son had taken part in or attended
  • Texts that were sent during school hours or when your son was supposed to be doing something specific if they indicate he was somewhere else
  • Inappropriate pictures

Helping Your Son

If you find text messages or any other communications between your son and others that indicate that he is keeping secrets from you or taking part in any behaviors that are dangerous, including drug use, don’t wait to take action.

At Muir Wood, we offer a comprehensive program that can help your son to get back on track and learn how to make more positive choices that promote health and wellness. Call now to learn more.