Signs of Drug Use

What if you suspect your child is using drugs or alcohol?

What are the signs of abuse? Realize some signs that might indicate a problem with alcohol or drugs can be normal teenage behavior, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them.

Teens are known to have mood swings. However, some behavior may indicate more serious issues. Some of the signs of drug use are the following:


Problems at school
  • Frequently forgetting homework, missing classes or skipping school, disinterest in school or school activities, or a drop in grades may be indicators of drug use.
Physical health status
  • Lack of energy and motivation may indicate your child is using certain drugs. Red eyes and cheeks or difficulty focusing on you, may indicate alcohol use. Red eyes and constricted pupils can be a sign of marijuana use. A strange burn on your child’s mouth or fingers can indicate smoking something through a metal or glass pipe. Chronic nosebleeds may be a sign of cocaine abuse.
Neglected appearance
  • Teenagers are usually very concerned about how they look. A lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks may be a warning sign of drug use.
Changes in behavior
  • Teenagers enjoy privacy, but exaggerated efforts not to allow family members from entering their rooms, knowing where they go with friends, or whom they are with, may indicate drug use. Changes in relationships with family and friends may be a sign.
Changes in friends
  • If your teen no longer associates with childhood friends, seems to be interested in hanging out with older kids, or acts secretive about spending time with new friends, he or she may be experimenting with drugs with the new friends.
Spending money
  • Sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation for its use may be a sign of drug use. You may also discover money stolen from your wallet or safe places at home. Items that disappear from your home may be sold to buy drugs.
Specific smells
  • Marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol all have specific smells. You may notice them on your teen’s breath or on clothing. Make sure you take a whiff of your teen’s car-the small of stale beer or marijuana smoke may linger in the car’s upholstery.
  • You may find items in your child’s room, backpack, or car related to drug use.

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