Attention Parents: Be Aware of These 10 Warning Signs of Drug Use

Attention Parents: Be Aware of These 10 Warning Signs of Drug Use

As a parent, you want to protect your child from anything that is going to cause them harm. One of those dangers you want to protect them from is drug abuse. Today, we want to help you by giving you a list of the common warning signs of drug use so you know what signs to look for if you suspect your child of drug use.

As a parent, it’s likely that you’re concerned by the idea of your teen engaging in drug abuse of any kind–and rightfully so. Almost a quarter of high school students in the United States experiment with at least one illegal drug.

Maybe you’re already worried about your teen, or you’re just curious about the different warning signs of drug use.

Keep in mind the fact that you should never accuse your child of drug use based on 1 of these signs alone, and remember that there may be any number of explanations for your suspicions.

Either way, here are 10 signs to look for that may help you determine (along with plenty of other evidence!) whether or not your child is experimenting with drugs.

1. They Smell of Drugs or Alcohol

Before you jump straight to the drug testing, remember that it’s not unheard of for teens to try new deodorants or to experiment with perfume or cologne. (Although if you do want to jump straight to drug testing your teen, see page!) But if you find yourself picking up on scents that smell like smoke, marijuana, or alcohol, this can be a big indicator that your teen has been experimenting with these substances.

While you shouldn’t necessarily accuse your child of addiction after one whiff of cigarette smoke, it’s important to pay attention to the way they smell, in case the suspicious scents become regular and stronger.

2. They Start Looking Different

That’s not to say that if your child decides to cut her hair, she’s an addict–regular changes in a teen’s style are normal. But if you start noticing unintentional changes in the way your child looks each day, it may be a sign of drug abuse.

Pay attention to things like your child’s eyes and overall hygiene. If their eyes start to look red, glassy or dilated, or if you see a sudden decline in your teen’s cleanliness, these could be signs of drug abuse.

3. They’ve Got All New Friends

Wait–but isn’t this a good thing? Well, yes, but sometimes it can be a sign that your teen may have begun experimenting with substance abuse.

You want your child to be social and well-liked, sure. But if you notice your child withdrawing from their longtime friends and opting for an unfamiliar crowd instead, it could be a sign they’ve taken up a destructive new hobby their old friends didn’t support.

4. They Seem Withdrawn

If your teen seems to withdraw from you and the rest of your family, you might assume it’s just classic teenage angst–but if you realize they’ve been withdrawing from other things they used to love, too, it may be a sign of drug use.

Drug abuse makes things like maintaining motivation and excitement difficult. If your child seems uncharacteristically disinterested in things, it’s important to get to the bottom of the issue, even if it’s due to something besides drug abuse.

5. Their Grades Drop

You’ve worked hard to teach your teen to work hard. They’ve always known how important it is to value their grades in school–so when your A-student becomes a C-, D-, and F-student, something might be going on.

A sudden decline in your teen’s grades could be due to a number of things, but especially if you notice a shift along with several other signs of drug use, you may want to look into their new school-related behaviors.

6. Their General Behaviors Change

The teen years are infamous for causing changes in a child’s behavior. Even so, it’s important to pay close attention to your child’s general moods and behaviors and the ways they’re changing. Even after the fact, drug use and abuse can show itself in the way your teen acts.

If there are obvious signs of drug abuse, like unusually obnoxious behaviors, stumbling, or puking, or less obvious shifts in behavior, anxiety, and irritability, these may be due to a recent uptick in drug abuse.

7. Their Moods Seem Tumultuous

While puberty and other stressors of the teenage years can cause your child to become uncharacteristically moody or irritable, you should keep a close eye on your child’s moods overall–especially if you’re worried about potential drug abuse.

Many teens experience moodiness, but if these changes in their moods seem to coincide with other signs of drug abuse or with time spent hanging out with their friends, rapid and unpredictable changes in mood could be a sign your teen’s been using drugs.

8. They Begin Lying Often

It’s normal, of course, for children to fib–“Yes, Mom, I brushed my teeth!” But if you’ve noticed an unusual or suspicious amount of lying from your teen, it may be a sign they’re attempting to cover up for their own poor decisions.

If your child is being vague or inconsistent in answering your questions, it may be because you’d be displeased with the truth. You’ll probably never know about every aspect of your child’s life, but if you’re worried you know too little, it may be a sign of drug abuse and their attempts to cover these activities up.

9. Things Go Missing Around the House

We all misplace the TV remote from time to time, but if you start noticing the absence of things like money, alcohol, or valuable items around your home, it could be a sign of your child’s drug use.

Many children who are abusing drugs have to turn to stealing things from around their parents’ houses in order to fund their drug habits. Be careful not to jump to conclusions, but do your best to get to the bottom of missing items, in case they’re linked to your child’s drug abuse.

10. They’ve Got Paraphernalia

This one’s a pretty solid giveaway; if you find your child with drug paraphernalia, it’s a good sign your child (or their friends, at least) has been experimenting with drug use.

Drug paraphernalia may be obvious, like marijuana bongs or actual stashes of the drug. Other times, it may be less clear–be careful not to accuse your child of drug abuse simply because you’ve found an old spoon underneath their dresser, a dollar bill in their wallet, or a cigarette butt outside your home.

Looking for More Warning Signs of Drug Use?

While it’s important to pay attention to every little sign that your teen may be abusing drugs, remember that one little sign is usually not enough to prove it, or even to accuse them of drug abuse.

Give your child the benefit of the doubt when it seems reasonable, and get to the bottom of problems when you feel you’ve got a real reason for concern.

If you’re looking for more information on the warning signs of drug use and other important lifestyle content, check out our page!

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