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Identifying drug use

Raising teenagers is tough. Your child is going through changes and you may feel distant from them or not as close as you used to. You may have the suspicion that they’re using drugs. Some of the behaviors that might concern you (desire for privacy, mood swings, less involvement with the family) are also pretty typical for teenagers.

The majority of our youth do not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with common warning signs of teen drug use, a few simple guidelines can go a long way toward spotting an issue earlier rather than later.

Teenagers Study

Behavioral changes to watch for

Whether or not drugs and alcohol are involved, when a child isn’t acting like themselves they could need your attention and help. Substance misuse can be accompanied by the following:

  • Has changed relationships with family members or friends
  • Uses chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
  • Often uses over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening or nasal irritation
  • Frequently breaks curfew
  • Has cash flow problems
  • Drives recklessly, and has car accidents or unexplained dents in the car
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Locks doors
  • Goes out every night
  • Makes secretive phone calls
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Has the “munchies” or sudden appetite
  • Exhibits uncharacteristically loud, obnoxious behavior
  • Laughs at nothing
  • Has become unusually clumsy: stumbling, lacking coordination, poor balance
  • Disappears for long periods of time

Talk to teachers

If you’re really worried about your child, talk to their teachers at school and ask how they’ve been doing. Decreasing academic performance, behavior issues, absences, and other problems would signify your child is experiencing difficulties which need attention. Their teachers might also have some insight into their social life at school, who they spend their time with and whether that is a concern.