“Drugs” consistently polls as one of the things parents worry about the most. In a short time, legions of young people will head off for the American ritual of going to college and with that experience, all the potential landlines. In the absence of supervision, drug use spikes. While we often give thought to the negative aspects of drug consumption, we may not give much thought to the simple idea that drugs are a commodity. Someone, somewhere produces the products, distributes and sells them. All of which is highly illegal to varying degrees depending on the substance. To add to the complexity, it’s very easy to imagine how a well meaning young person could fall into the trap of becoming the dealer for the dorm or fraternity, though no parent likes to think of their child as “that kid”, someone’s child is.
What starts out as making some extra cash, can quickly become a felony and if caught, that can tag a young person for the rest of their life. The efficacy of this model and even the ethics of it are entirely debatable. Getting caught up in legal entanglements isn’t part of anyone’s hopes and dreams for a college experience. As much as parents worry about the use of drugs, we often lose sight of the sale and distribution but those issues do happen. What does one do if that does happen?
- Get legal council immediately. People have rights and drug charges are nothing to play with.
- Understand that people who meet criteria for “addiction” are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. That won’t excuse behaviors, nor should it, but it can help someone get into treatment.
- Understand that the legal ramifications is one of the things with which to deal, there are others
- “Tough love” is a bad play here. People think of the drug culture as “lessons to learn” it’s not. Thinking “let them sit in jail” won’t help in the long term. Nobody comes out of jail better, often they come out much, much worse
- Don’t lose hope, this may have a silver lining and it can be helped
- DO get a skilled social worker who knows how this works to aid in the formulation and implementation of a plan. Lawyers are often looking for a loophole or best outcome for a legal perspective, that’s their job, but that’s not the whole story. Drug use and willingness to take the risk of dealing has behavioral and psychological underpinnings that won’t be addressed by legal council.
- What if the DA offers a deal to expose the org chart? DO NOT take this! Most college kids are very low level players in the grand scheme of things and their real value to a jurisdiction is what they know. While it might be enticing to quickly make the whole thing go away, exposing others is dangerous and not worth while. Tell the DA to forget it.
- Do not “get them out of it”. Consequences are good but not inappropriate consequences that ruin lives.
- Be honest about the situation. Drug policy regardless of if its at a community or individual level is only successful to the degree that we can be honest about it. Making excuses, minimizing, justifying won’t help the young person in the long run.
- Find some empathy and compassion. We were all young once, we all made incredibly bad decisions and we all need help to negotiate the messes we create. Drug use and distribution shouldn’t mean ruined lives.