I’ve responded throughout your email below:
Dear Mark -
I just signed onto your program last week and have a situation going on that I just do not know what to do.
I have a 14 year old girl using drugs and on the run most of the time.
== > First of all, don't threaten her. Avoid the temptation to say things like, "If you walk out that door, I'm calling the cops" or "If you leave, you're grounded for a month." or "Fine, go ahead and run ...I'll pack your shit and you can go live with your dad."
Instead say, "You know that I can't control you -- and if you really want to run away from home, I can't stop you. I can't watch you 24 hours a day, and I can’t lock you up in your room. But no one in the world loves you the way I do. That is why we have established some house rules. Running away from home will not solve any problems. You and I know it will only make matters worse."
If your daughter follows through with her threat to run away, do the following:
1. Call the police. Don't wait 24 hours -- do it right away.
2. Get the name of the officer you speak with.
3. Call back often.
4. Call everyone your daughter knows and enlist their help.
5. Search everywhere, but do not leave your phone unattended.
6. Search your daughter's room for anything that may give you a clue as to where she went.
7. You may also want to check your phone bill for any calls she made in the last few weeks.
When she comes home, wait until you and she are calmed down before you address the matter. Then say (with your best poker face), "When you ran away, I felt worried and afraid. But I have an obligation to protect you. Therefore, if you choose to run away again, you'll choose the consequence -- runaway charges will be filed and a juvenile probation officer will want to meet with you."
If your daughter runs again, follow through with this consequence.
I am writing to you now because she came home last evening (walked past us and went to bed). I cluelessly have said or done nothing yet. History says she will dismiss me no matter how friendly my approach. The trigger for her last run a couple weeks ago was when she returned from her previous run and I invited her to go along on a trip to the vet with our dog. She went for the bedroom door to dismiss me.
I have been very passive in my approach with her knowing that she could probably kick my butt if a confrontation turned physical. Deciding not to act from fear, I have begun self-defense and Taekwon-do classes. My decision was no longer to allow her verbal abuse. So with this I pushed open the bedroom door and said calling me names in my home would not be tolerated. She got passed me, and did get a good slap in as she went on a cursing, ranting and raving mission, grabbing what I think was her drug stash in the back yard and vowing never to return (of course she always does for some clean clothes and a sleeping binge).
This was until very recently my "good" child. Her sister, now 17 will be returning from a Dual Diag. Correctional Facility (Severe Drug Add w/ Bi-polar, ODD, etc) in August. She successfully completed the program in a year after being in Juvenile Detention for 6 Mos. To date, all signs are that she is doing exceptionally well. Recently, as it gets closer to A___ coming home and all of us hoping for a fresh start, the younger daughter has gone out of her way to insist that I am a fool and A___ will come home and do what she always does.
Until a couple months ago, the younger daughter, S___, prided herself in being the smart, over achieving superstar daughter. Over the past year there were 2 incidents that may have been red flags, but I didn't catch them due to her history.
When school got out in May, she began staying out late and taking off to surrounding towns. I told her she was going to have to either get involved in an activity or get a summer job. She told me there would be no way, confessed to smoking weed and after my lecturing the consequences of her choices, she reminded me that there's not a F thing I can do about it and the running began.
She knows that it takes a long time (2 years for her sister) before ANYTHING happens. The police are reluctant to do anything, and here in FLA, short of them getting an arrest history, the rest is a song and dance as you get passed from one agency to the next.
I completely understand the problems that probably led to the mess with my daughters. We've done the counseling, I've soul searched and have made peace with God - but now what???? I've given it to God and one source he's led me to is you. What do I do NOW?
I hope you can give me something that can make a difference today.
==> If her drug use has been purely recreational, you may only need to clearly state your position regarding abstinence and then closely monitor her behavior. If she is more deeply into substance abuse, seek the advice of a behavioral health or substance abuse professional.
Don't show any emotions of anger or fear, and don't lose your good poker face -- but do send a strong message that drug and alcohol use is not acceptable. Don't lecture, be clear, and keep your message short and to the point.
Develop a list of names, addresses, and phone numbers of her friends. Get to know those kids if possible. Form a network with the parents of her peers. Keep in touch with one another. Don't be surprised if other parents don't share your concern about substance abuse.
Check her whereabouts regularly. Don't be shocked if you find that another parent is using drugs with her, allows substance-abusing parties at their home, or is supplying the kids with drugs and alcohol. If you learn that one of her friends is involved in drugs, don't keep it a secret from his/her parents.
Restrict or eliminate use of the car, take away cell phones, and limit unsupervised free time until she is committed to being "clean and sober." An out-of-control kid wants freedom more than anything -- let her know that freedom is earned.
If she wants to spend the night at a friend’s house, check with the other parent to make sure she has permission. Also make sure the other parent will be home, and determine if the other parent has the same curfew and expectations you do.
Kids often select homes of absent parents for sleep-overs and all-night drug/alcohol parties. Make sure she is not sneaking out after you go to bed. Nothing good happens after midnight.
Get Caller ID and Anonymous Call Rejection on the phone line that she uses so that you know who is calling her. Require that she call home from a "land line" phone so that the location she is calling from appears on your Caller ID.
Find out where she is getting the money to purchase drugs (e.g., your ATM card, wallet, money you give for an allowance, lunches, gas, etc.). Don't be surprised if you find she is stealing from you or others to finance his drug use.
Purchase urine-screen kits to use at home and test her randomly.
Tell her the following: "If you choose to use drugs, you'll choose the consequence -- the police will be called and juvenile probation will be notified."
If she continues to use drugs, follow through with this consequence.