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As I was cleaning the garage recently, I unfortunately found a crack pipe inside my 16 year old son's car. When I questioned him about it, he claimed that he didn't use it and that his "crack head friend" left it in there. However, I knew he wasn't being truthful because the crack pipe was still warm and his classes are online.

I deduced that the crack pipe must have been used just recently because there was no insulator around it that could have kept it warm since classes went online in March 2020, and the heat capacity of glass isn't all that high for it to simply feel that hot just because it was sitting inside the car for a few days. I called him out on the lie and after some questioning, he finally admitted that he was using crack.

I had always had some suspicion of him doing something behind my back because he'd always tell me that he had to go meet up with his girlfriend "Hannah Montana" and would always come home acting funny, though I could never put my finger on it. I didn't want to put my nose into his business so I hadn't questioned him before. Turns out he was a druggie. He still won't tell me who's supplying the crack or how he's getting it. He has some experiments in the basement set up, so I'm feeling suspicious that he's making the crack himself (so I've shut down his "lab" for the time being).

Now I'm left in a dilemma: what should I do? He's a great student and brings home all A's. He's an aspiring chemist and his teachers tell me that he's one of the brightest students they've ever met. If I report this, his record will probably be ruined. I'm completely lost and don't know what steps to take. Should I just not do anything, given that he's a good and responsible student? Will he grow out of it? Is this just a phase all kids go through?

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    Perhaps a better question would be "how do I deal with this?" rather than "should I stop him?". Obviously getting him to stop is the goal; the question is how. A 16 YO cannot be forced to do things in the way that a 10 YO can. – Paul Johnson Mar 17 at 20:00
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    "Is this just a phase all kids go through?" No, it's not. I know that I can attest that I personally have never used any illicit drugs, including when I was a teenager. It is, at most, a phase that some kids go through! – nick012000 Mar 18 at 9:21
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    I don’t understand the relevance of classes being online – Prince M Mar 18 at 16:53
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    If I was in your position I would take him to a substance abuse evaluation. Using crack cocaine is not a common “experimentation” drugs that people grow out of. I have experience with drug experimentation and using crack would raise eye-brows from even some of the wildest party-goers. Are you sure it’s actually crack cocaine that he’s using? Can you post a picture of the pipe you found please? – Prince M Mar 18 at 16:58
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So first off, good on you for how you've handled this so far. Lots of people tend to flip out on their kids when they find out they've been doing drugs, but it sounds like you've been pretty calm, so that's good. So, I'm gonna answer your last question first. It is highly unlikely, almost impossible, for him to grow out of it if he doesn't try. Crack and coke are the same drug, but in different forms. Coke is most commonly snorted, but it can also be rubbed on the gums, smoked, and injected. Crack is inhaled into the lungs and spread through the body. The high from crack starts as soon as its inhaled, and lasts about 10 minutes (opposed to the 5-30 minute high from coke.) So since the binge and crash cycle is so fast and so intense, it makes it way more addictive than lots of other drugs, and most people are dependent on it after a few months.

Now going back, yes, you should do something about this. Hes not gonna get better by himself. even if he tries, theres a chance that hes addicted at this point, and its very challenging for someone to stop by themselves, because the drugs have somewhat reprogrammed their brain. Also, less than one percent of people use cocaine as their first drug, because its not a gateway drug. This means that its probably not his first time using drugs. For most people, cocaine is the 4th or 5th drug they use.

So what can you do? Well, as you said, reporting him would probably damage his career and self esteem a lot. So help him find a therapist or recovery center. Encourage him to go and get help to stop. As hard as it may be to accept this, its hard to get them to stop, and its gonna be a long road, and they're gonna change during the process, but in the end, its all worth it, and he'll be a better person. There are lots of resources online and (most likely) in your town. I would recommend going and talking to a therapist or rehab center without him and get some information before you send him there.

Hope all goes well, and just remember to keep pushing.

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