How can I tell if my son or daughter is on drugs?

Teenage addiction is a rampant issue in the United States, so much so that some people think our very future as a nation is at stake. As a role model and guardian of your teen, it’s paramount that you do everything you can to curb their drug habit before it gets out of control – or before it even happens. The best parenting in the world doesn’t assure abstaining from drug use, unfortunately. What with peer pressure and social groups having such an impact on your kid, it’s no wonder that nearly 60% of highschool seniors admit to having used alcohol, ⅓ admitted to cannabis and 15% prescription drug use. Those are scary numbers because if they do that much at such a young age, just imagine how early adult life will be. If you can get a handle on the situation, there’s hope. The purpose of this blog is to teach you how to do just that.

Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

Assessing your teens behavior and learning the signs of drug use is critical in preventing a bad habit from turning into addiction. You may have the mindset that you don’t want to seem invasive to your teen in order to not seem like an overbearing parent. While this is understandable, your teens health and life are much more important than their independence. Understand what to look for if you think your kid is on drugs.

The three main categories of signals are as follows:

  1. Habitual Changes
  2. Physical Appearance
  3. Situational Awareness

Habitual Changes

Variation in your teens typical habits is one of the first signs. Individually, they may seem unrelated but when pieced together with the knowhow you’ve learned from this blog, you will be able to identify the patterns.

Habitual changes to look out for in teens on drugs include:

  • Change in Appetite – Different drugs affect the system in different ways, some increase your appetite and some decrease it. The similarity between them all, though, is that the change in appetite is sudden.
  • Different Social Groups – Teens who do drugs typically will hangout with other teens that do drugs. If you notice that they’re hanging out with different kids than they generally do or that their new friends are suspicious themselves, it may be an indicator.
  • Misbehavior – Abrupt transgression or distantness, whether at home or in school, is one of the top signs that a teen may be on drugs. That’s not to say that other social factors may be at play, but when in cahoots with the other symptoms of use, it may be cause for worry.

Physical Appearance

Changes in physical appearance may be hard to identify initially, but as with habitual changes, multiple factors in unison may be a cause for worry. Especially when in junction with habit.

Physical changes to keep an eye out for are:

  • Eyes – Certain drugs affect the eyes greatly, but typically what you should look for is bloodshot eyes or dilation of pupils. Pupils get very big on some drugs, very small on others.
  • Arms – Random bruises or wounds on the arm, especially near the inside of the elbow, can have serious implications. If your teen is wearing long sleeves at inappropriate times, they may be hiding these symptoms.
  • Cheeks – Cheeks can become flushed or extra rosy depending on which drug was used.
  • Hygiene – If you notice a sudden change in cleanliness, it could be a result of drug use.
  • Fingers – Burns or soot on fingers is also an indication.
  • Shaking – Shaking or involuntary movement can have severe implications.
  • Smell – Unidentifiable smells on the clothing or breath might mean they were smoking something.
  • Nose – Bleeding of the nose or a constantly runny nose without being sick could mean that they’re snorting something.
  • Lips – Constantly licking lips could be an indicator of certain drugs.

Situational Awareness

Things you directly notice about your teens are helpful in diagnosing drug use, however, there are external factors that you should pay attention to that may also be relevant.

Situational factors to watch for can be:

Secretive Behavior

Some teens are secretive by nature, this isn’t necessarily for them. This is for extroverted teens that suddenly appear introverted. You can’t assume that this is drugs without context, they could be going through a breakup or getting bullied; but you should still pay mind to what’s happening.

Secretive behaviors to look out for might include:

  • Presence – If your teen is going out nightly or disappearing for extended periods of time, it may be a sign.
  • Seclusion – If your teen is actively avoiding your or locking their bedroom door, they may be attempting to hide something.
  • Theft – If your teen is stealing from you or anyone else you can certainly take it as a tell-tale sign that something is wrong.
  • Punctuality – If your kid is consistently late or absent to work or school there’s almost definitely an extenuating circumstance affecting their schedule.

Changes in the Home Environment

There are some very obvious happenings in your home that will tip you off to your teen’s drug use, but most are much less subtle. Finding a bag of drugs, for example, is a no-brainer. The other attributes are harder to discern.

Changes to look out for in your home environment are as follows:

  • Suspicious Use of Household Items – If you find containers, wrappers, or aluminum foil in odd places they could be paraphernalia.
  • Paraphernalia – Other drug paraphernalia includes smoking apparatuses, eye drops, lighters and syringes.
  • Car – Inexplicable dents or scratches on the car could mean that they were driving under the influence.
  • Missing Libations – If you yourself partake in any drug use, whether prescribed or responsible, it’s important that you take note of amounts and look for missing stock.

So You Think Your Teen is On Drugs

You’ve read this whole blog, you know what to look for and now you have an intelligent guess that your teenager is on drugs. The word of parental authority only reaches so far in a teen’s ears. It may be time to seek professional help. Our professional rehabilitation facility here in Rancho Mirage, CA might be exactly the source of guidance your child needs. They likely won’t be enthused to participate, but we have an 80% success rate in rehabilitating addicted or at risk youth. Don’t hesitate to contact us or set an appointment for your teen, their health is the most important part of their life.