Your Child Is in Trouble with Drugs or Alcohol.
Changes in your teen’s behavior and appearance can be a normal form of adolescent self-expression. But these changes can also be a sign of a serious problem. How can a concerned parent tell the difference?
Here are a few of the most common warning signs that your teen is using drugs or alcohol:
Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades
Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors
Changes in friends, or subtle changes in conversations with friends (e.g., more secretive, using “coded” language)
Change in clothing choices, new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
Increase in borrowing money
Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.
Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils.
New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol
Missing prescription drugs, especially narcotics and mood stabilizers.
Losing interest in activities the teen once enjoyed.
Personality changes – a child who was once outgoing is now withdrawn, or someone who is usually relaxed is now fidgety and restless.
Sudden mood changes – euphoria followed by tenseness or edginess; excessive suspiciousness or paranoia.
Appearing listless or hung over, increased forgetfulness, and withdrawal from family.
More combativeness at home, sudden rages or bouts of anger, or increased secretiveness.
Weight loss, not sleeping well, fatigue, or hyperactivity.
If you have noticed any of these signs of substance abuse in your child, trust your instincts. There is no harm in getting a free assessment of your child’s situation or seeking advice from a medical professional or substance abuse treatment program that specializes in working with teens.
The alternative, taking a “wait and see” approach, puts your child and your family in jeopardy.