Warning Signs of Drug Abuse!

You probably already know that teenage drug use is at an all-time high – no pun intended!  Hopefully, you believe that your teenagers are not one of the users, and for some of you, this is true.  But for many others, your children are right now using illicit drugs or alcohol without your knowing.  They could have had you fooled for months or years.

Studies have given us some valuable information on patterns kids seem to follow when they get involved in illicit drug and alcohol use.  There are certain behaviors which can help identify those adolescents who are using drugs on a regular basis.   Read over the following list then keep your eyes open to what your child is doing.

School Setting Behaviors:

Truancy – skipping school or tardiness.  Teens using drugs are three times more likely to be truant from school.

Verbal and Physical Abuse towards staff or classmates.  Has your teen suddenly become a different person and picking fights or cussing out teachers?  Students using drugs are more than twice as likely to get into physical fights; 50% of users admitted initiating violence.

Vandalism – any sudden destruction of property, even in your own home?  With the influence of drugs, teens are four times more likely to commit vandalism; 54% of users say they destroy things for fun.

Absenteeism – skipping work or school or even church!

Sudden drop in grades – Has you child’s report cards taken a nose dive?  Drug users are twice as likely to have trouble concentrating in class.

These behaviors are not conclusive on their own that a student is using drugs but they are indicators that point to that possibility.  If your child exhibits any of these behaviors and there has definitely been a change in their behavior, seek assistance immediately.  Talk to your school counselors and teachers to see if they have noticed or been told of any new and unwanted behaviors.

Other Classroom signs include:

  • Bloodshot eyes (pot).
  • Smell.
  • Lack of Responsiveness.
  • Lots of talk about drugs or alcohol.
  • Defensive behavior.
  • Leaving the room often.
  • Incomplete assignments.
  • Dress (e.g., roach clips, t-shirts with slogans about drugs).
  • Forged notes from home.
  • Giving in to peer pressure.

The list could be endless.  Changes from the norm, several behaviors going on at once, and frequency of occurrence are most revealing.

Outside Behaviors

Although many of the following behaviors are to some extent normal in many adolescents at certain times, frequency of occurrence and clustering of these behaviors are indicative of possible substance abuse and should be investigated.

 Changing Circle of Friends – Is your teen hanging with a new group, kids who behave differently and who you believe to be trouble?

Undergoing emotional highs and lows – Drug use causes highs when under the influence and lows when the drugs wear off.

Defying rules and regulations – Teens who start drug use become their own boss and want nothing to do with authority.

Showing frustration and giving in to peer pressure – Has your teen succumbed to others urging them to try a drug or beer?  Is your teen getting tired of trying to say “no” all the time and now says “beer isn’t all that bad.”

Sleeping more than usual – Drug use is stressful to the body, and often users are out late and get less sleep.  Falling asleep in class or at the dinner table are signs of poor sleep patterns.  How late is your teen allowed out?  Do they seem to spend every Friday and Saturday at a friends house?  And if so, are you sure they are doing what they are telling you?

 Other noticeable signs:

  • Withdrawing from family functions.
  • Changing to worse physical hygiene.
  • Failing to inform parents of significant school events and social activities.
  • Intercepting the mail.
  • Isolating self (e.g., spending lots of time in own room).
  • Selling possessions.
  • Playing parents against each other.
  • Undergoing a drastic weight change.
  • Developing a short temper.
  • Adopting a defensive attitude.
  • Coming home drunk or high.
  • Exhibiting abusive behavior.

Parents should also be concerned if they notice things missing, such as money or prescription drugs; receive calls from school that their adolescent is missing class or exhibiting abusive behavior; or of course, finding drug paraphernalia.  Legal problems should also lead to suspicion.

Why does this happen?

Toxicity from intoxicating mood-altering chemicals remains in the system for several days and irritates the brain cells.  A toxic student’s central nervous system cannot manage itself nor can anyone else manage the moods of a toxic brain.  Student unmanageability may take the form of overt acting out, disrespect, violence, abuse or truancy or it may take a more passive form, such as drowsiness, apathy, isolation, unfinished assignments and disrespect.

Where can parents turn for help?

Parents should always talk to their child’s teachers and counselors first.  They know where and how to get help if needed.

Where can I get my kid drug tested?

Sport Safe Testing Service offers the Partner Program – Drug Testing Upon Parent Request.  You can take your teen to a nearby collection site where a trained medical technician will collect a urine specimen to be tested for drugs of abuse, along with alcohol and nicotine if you like.  The doctor will call you directly with the results.  You no longer will wonder if your child is using or not.  You will then know the real answer.  Click here for a Partner Program Requisition Form or call: