It has never been easy being a parent, but parents today must be extra-vigilant because of the prevalence of drug and alcohol use among teens. It’s hard not to cross the fine line between being observant and invading privacy. But, there are some things a parent can watch for without feeling intrusive or overprotective in their desire to protect their child.
Your child may not realize it, but you are his or her most important advocate, especially if drugs or alcohol have entered the picture. Your guidance and support during this difficult time are essential for helping your child get back on track.
Dealing with your child’s substance abuse will get harder the longer you wait to intervene. With that in mind, here are some of the signs and symptoms to look for if you suspect your teen is abusing a substance:
Is Your Child Using Drugs or Alcohol? Here’s What to Look For
It can be tricky to know for sure if your child is using drugs or alcohol because many of the signs are common in teens regardless of the presence of addictive substances. These signs include anxiety, isolation, depression, hostility, and disinterest in hygiene. In addition to these signs, look at how your child is doing in school, taking part in sports, or getting along with friends.
Watch List for Parents of Teens
- New group of friends
- Missing school, declining grades
- Secretive behavior regarding activities or possessions
- Using incense, air fresheners, or perfumes to hide chemical or smoke odors
- Sudden change in clothing style or clothes that promote drug use
- Increased need for extra money
- Drug paraphernalia (rolling papers, pipes, etc.)
- Evidence of inhalant use (hairspray, household cleaning products, nail polish, paper bags)
- Evidence of eye drop use to mask dilated pupils or bloodshot eyes
- Use of breath mints or mouthwash that covers up the smell of alcohol
- Missing prescription drugs, especially narcotics, mood stabilizers, or painkillers
These changes are usually a good indication that your teen is experimenting with harmful substances, but you don’t want to jump to conclusions.
What You Should Do First
If you suspect your teen is experimenting with drugs or alcohol, consult a doctor and ask about a drug-screening. The process can include having your teen talk with a health professional or it may involve a blood or urine test. A medical professional will also be able to determine if your child is having deeper problems such as depression, gang involvement, or suicidal ideations.
Also, don’t hesitate to talk to your child before things go too far. Remember, talking to your teen about the dangers of substance abuse is not something you do only once. Your teen needs to be reminded that you do not condone drug use and that you will hold them accountable for their behavior.
For more information on drug and alcohol abuse among teens, please contact us a Free Drug Test today.