Is My Child using Drugs?
Despite all of your best efforts, there may come a time that you begin to suspect your child has a problem with substances. Many things could have led you to this conclusion including overhearing a conversation not meant for your ears, reading disturbing texts or emails or perhaps you saw some concerning material on Facebook. Maybe you’ve found some odd things in your child’s pockets including pipes, lighters, spoons, blades or safety pins. Whatever the case, something is leading you to believe that your child is on drugs. You may be wondering if you are overreacting.
While you are inclined to see drug use by a teen as a serious problem, others may say “it’s only marijuana” or “there’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation”, or some may even say “I used marijuana when I was young.” However, the world has changed and so has drug use amongst minors.
The effects of drugs and alcohol on the developing brain can be detrimental. Drug use that takes place while the brain and the body are still growing can have irreversible effects on a child’s development. Drug use also impacts your child’s social development and academic performance.
Here are some of the warning signs to look for:
Physical and health signs of drug abuse
- Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
- Frequent nosebleeds could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine).
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
- Seizures without a history of epilepsy.
- Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
- Impaired coordination, injuries/accidents/bruises that they won’t or can’t tell you about- they don’t know how they got hurt.
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
- Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.
Behavioral signs of alcohol or drug abuse
- Skipping class, declining grades, getting in trouble at school.
- Drop in attendance and performance at work–loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise–decreased motivation.
- Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.
- Missing money, valuables, prescription or prescription drugs, borrowing and stealing money.
- Acting isolated, silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
- Clashes with family values and beliefs.
- Preoccupation with alcohol and drug-related lifestyle in music, clothing and posters.
- Demanding more privacy, locking doors and avoiding eye contact.
- Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
- Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities).
- Using incense, perfume, air freshener to hide smell of smoke or drugs.
- Using eyedrops to mask bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils.
Psychological warning signs of alcohol or drug abuse
- Unexplained, confusing change in personality and/or attitude.
- Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
- Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
- Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
- Appears fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.
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