Warning Signs and Symptoms
Signs of drug use or typical teenage behavior?
While the following behaviors may indicate an alcohol or drug problem, some also reflect normal teenage growing pains. Experts believe that a substance problem is more likely if you notice several of these signs at the same time, they occur suddenly, or some are extreme in nature.
a drop in grades
moods are up and down
dishonesty about whereabouts
dishonest about a lot of things
early cigarette smoking
red, watery, or glassy eyes
uses eye drops to hide red eyes
has delinquent friends
late or unexplained hours
rejection of parental values
have found drugs & paraphernalia in his/her possession
disappearance of money or possessions
defensive about drug use
seems to have drug-using friends
often draws pot leaves, drugs, or drug symbols
Few parents want to believe that their son or daughter uses drugs and/or alcohol, but the reality is that many young people do experiment. Some will just try drugs and stop, some will control their use of illegal substances with varying degrees of success, and some will have addiction absolutely control their frequently shortened lives.
Some young people are more susceptible than others to addictive disorders. Young people whose families have a history of substance abuse are clearly more "at risk." Youngsters whose background includes emotional, behavioral, or scholastic difficulties are also more prone to addictive difficulties, but problems with drug and alcohol abuse can happen to anyone. We know that some addictions, like alcoholism can be genetically transmitted between generations, but many people with no family history of alcoholism become overwhelmed with alcohol-related difficulties.
Addictive disorders often start early with cigarette smoking, followed by marijuana or alcohol. Some kids who continue to seek out other "mild-altering" experiences develop a preference for stimulants (methamphetamine, crystal, speed), others like substances that numb their feelings (narcotics), while others prefer hallucinogens (LSD, etc). Many youngsters become so enthralled with the drug subculture that they will use any drug that is available.
Most professionals view addictive disorders as progressive health conditions that will continue to become more problematic unless effectively addressed. Like other health problems, catching the problem early is always best.
What To Look For…
- Rolling papers
- Dried plant material with a musky odor
- Pipes, tin cans, tubes, metal pipes or other smoking apparatus (often with a sticky or dried brownish residue)
- 'Baggies' containing seeds or dried plant material
- Unexplained pills or capsules
- White powder
- Razor blades
- Glass vials
- Squares of Aluminum foil
- Straws, rolled dollar bills, empty pen barrels
- Syringes, needle marks on body
- Blotter paper squares or stickers (perhaps wrapped in foil)
- Odor of gas, glue or other petroleum products
- Full aerosol containers with the gas propellant absent
- Bottles of alcoholic beverages (empty or not)
- Missing filters from faucets
Symptoms of Drug Use…
Commonly Abused Drug Chart - National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Prescription Drug Abuse Chart - National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)