At Visions Adolescent Treatment Center in Malibu we talk about trust between parents and teens being extremely important , and the question of whether or not to snoop in your teen’s room is a delicate one. In my experience as a teen addict, I feel that after a certain point, my parents had every right to snoop in my room- I had broken their trust and was engaging in behaviors that were dangerous to me and others. I feel that as soon as I demonstrated suspicious behaviors, like my dramatic mood change, not coming home at night, and a severe drop in my academic performance, their decision to snoop in my room may have saved my life. At the time, I was furious, and why wouldn’t I be? I threw tantrums about my right to privacy and became increasingly sneaky. I was trying to protect my private using world. The idea that it would be taken away terrified me. I did not believe that I could live or be happy without drugs. The problem was that I wasn’t happy with drugs either. My parents found paraphernalia in my room one day while I was out with my friends and later confronted me about it. At the time I was furious and told them I could never trust them again. Big deal. They had no reason to trust me anymore.
I know it must have been hard for my parents to act in a way that made me react so violently, and to take the abuse I was aiming at them. I know now that they made the decision to search my room because they were very afraid for me. Even after they sent me to treatment, I felt very angry at my parents. I felt like I’d been tricked into treatment and I let them know how angry I was at every possible opportunity. I was not nice about it. I tried every manipulative trick I had left to get them to let me leave treatment and come home. The truth is that I was terrified of the new life that lay ahead of me- a life without using, a life full of feelings and reality. My parents, thank goodness, let me throw my tantrums and left me in treatment. I know now that it was incredibly hard for them too.
Over time, I began to calm down and be honest with myself. My life using drugs was miserable, and I was afraid of being even more miserable without drugs. As time passed in treatment, I started to recognize the feelings and fears that led me to use, and learned new ways of dealing with my feelings. My parents got support too. Together, we began to mend our relationship. Once I was finally able to be honest with myself about my behavior and my using and drinking, I could see that my parents were helping me, not hurting me. I wasn’t a victim- I had gotten myself there and I was lucky to have parents that cared enough about me that they would endure my anger and find help for me. I wish that I hadn’t put my parents through all of that, but what I can do today is stay clean and never make them have to go through that mess again. It is my living amends to them. I feel like unwarranted snooping in a teen’s room can break down trust, but in my case, where I had already been showing warning signs of drug and alcohol abuse, my parents’ choice to search my room may have eventually saved my life.
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