Raising teenagers is a tough gig.
Raging hormones, the pressures of school life and a heightened interest in the opposite sex are all daily battles. Add to this the topic of drugs and it’s understandable why parents sometimes feel at a loss.
Discussing drug use, and being open and honest about drugs with your children is an important way to help them make good decisions about using drugs. (For tips on how to approach this, see our previous article about talking to your kids about drugs).
However, even though we make every effort to educate our kids about drugs, sometimes it doesn’t work. Whether its peer pressure or the result of other circumstances, sometimes the lure of the escape drugs promise is just too strong for an adolescent mind.
As a parent, being educated on what the signs of drug use are can go a long way to detecting if your child is using. Below is a guide of some of the common indicators of drug use:
In the home
loss of interest in family activities
disrespect for family rules
withdrawal from responsibilities
verbally or physically abusive
sudden increase or decrease in appetite
disappearance of valuable items or money
not coming home on time and not telling you where they are going
constant excuses for behaviour
spending a lot of time in their rooms
lies about activities
finding the following: cigarette rolling papers, pipes, roach clips, small glass vials, plastic bags, remnants of drugs (seeds, etc.).
sudden drop in grades
truancy or always being late to school
loss of interest in learning
sleeping in class
poor work performance
not doing homework
defiant of authority
poor attitude toward sports or other extracurricular activities
reduced memory and attention span
not informing you of teacher meetings, open houses, etc.
Physical and emotional
smell of alcohol or marijuana on breath or body
unexplainable mood swings and behaviour
negative, argumentative, paranoid or confused, destructive, anxious
over‐reacts to criticism
sharing few if any of their personal problems
doesn’t seem as happy as they used to be
overly tired or hyperactive and drastic weight loss or gain
unhappy and depressed, sloppiness in appearance
cheats, steals, always needs money, or has excessive amounts of money.
Older teenagers and young adults
Look for a pattern of behaviour rather than a one‐time instance since these symptoms can indicate other problems as well.
difficulty learning and paying attention; poor grades
the homicidal triad and other violent outbursts
social withdrawal and poor social skills
clinginess, anxiety and bullying
psychosomatic symptoms (frequent headaches and stomach‐aches)
property destruction and vandalism
reckless, risk‐taking behaviour
inability to express feelings
involvement in abusive dating relationships.
For more advice on how to understand and cope with the results of substance use and abuse visit our family support section.