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John Rosemond | Syndicated columnist

Q: We recently discovered that our 16-year-old son has been smoking marijuana on a regular basis. At first, we intended to begin using an over-the-counter drug test but then learned that teens have figured out how to beat these tests. One of our son’s friends, for example, was regularly tested at home and always tested negative despite the fact that he never stopped using. Also, do you think he should go into counseling?

A: You’re right, many drug tests are not reliable and teens have learned how to fool them. I searched “fooling over-the-counter drug tests” and discovered that doing so requires no special expertise or anything more difficult to obtain than lemon juice or vinegar. Apparently, concealing marijuana use from OTC tests is almost laughably easy. As one expert commented, drug testing has turned into a “cat-and-mouse game.” I’d recommend that you ask your son’s physician how you can go about enrolling your son in a reliable, professionally-administered drug-testing program of the sort used by the airline industry and law enforcement agencies.

In the meantime, fulfill your responsibility to the community by taking away your son’s driving privileges until he has passed at least one year of randomly-administered tests. Make no mistake about it, marijuana and driving do not mix. In May, 2016, AAA reported that fatal automobile accidents involving drivers who had recently smoked pot doubled after Washington state legalized the drug. The additional problem is that your son may be especially susceptible to marijuana’s effects. It’s been discovered that impairment levels vary widely from person to person. I can’t emphasize enough: Get him off the road!

Obviously, your son is running with a bunch of like-minded peers in which case you should apply appropriate restrictions to his social life. The message you send to him should be “find new friends or we are your new friends.” Yes, he will probably be able to go around your restrictions to some extent, but restrictions in combination with random drug testing will be fairly effective.

Last but certainly not least, take away his lifeline to his current peer group. I’m talking about his smart phone. As I’ve said many, many times in this column and on my weekly radio show (American Family Radio, Saturdays, 5 p.m.) there is no rational justification for giving a teen a smart phone. They are anti-social devices and researchers have discovered that they induce physiological effects that are similar to those induced by addictive drugs.

Confiscate the current phone. Obtain a basic cell phone (believe it or not, most providers still carry them) that can’t access the Internet and doesn’t facilitate easy texting. Give it to him only on those occasions when you want to be able to get in touch with him or vice versa. That is all the phone any teenager needs anyway.

As for counseling, I don’t put much stock in it, especially when the patient is a teen who doesn’t want to be counseled in the first place. Don’t waste your — or your insurance plan’s — money.

None of this is going to be easy, but the eventual payoff is a child who is drug-free, whose friends are drug-free, and because of no smart phone, has greatly improved social skills. Hang in there!

Visit family psychologist John Rosemond’s website at; readers may send him email at; due to the volume of mail, not every question will be answered


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(1) comment


Do NOT follow this man's advice!!! I could not stress this more. Treating your child like a prisoner is NOT building a healthy relationship with them. If you're this controlling, no wonder your kid feels the need to smoke weed!! You're stressing the poor kid out and setting him up for mental illnesses to develop. (Making this goon who wrote this more money down the road. Hmm.) The more you crack down and invade privacy (cell phone) or try to dictate who their friends are, the more you are just pushing them away. Trust is a two-way street. You will not be helping your kid, you'll just be creating a better liar and make them feel as if they can't talk to you about ANYTHING, let alone a little harmless weed. What you SHOULD do is research this drug on your own and then talk with your child OPENLY AND HONESTLY. Tell them, "I know we can't stop you from living your life and making your own mistakes, but we can express disappoinment in your choices and offer advice. Maybe go on to express the importance of not getting caught with it and ending up with a record that loses his chances at some jobs, but honestly that's the MOST danger your child is in by smoking pot. The police are the only thing that makes this drug even a teensy bit dangerous. Sure, he shouldn't smoke and drive but it's a hell of a lot less dangerous than the drinking and driving we all know you parents did when you were younger.

Cut your kid some slack.

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