Warning Signs That Your Child May Be Using Drugs:
A Parents’ Guide to Getting Involved
Since mood swings and unpredictable behavior are frequent occurrences for preteens and teenagers, you may find it difficult to spot signs that your child may be using drugs. But if your child starts to exhibit one or more of these signs (which apply equally to sons and daughters) drug abuse may be at the heart of the problem:
- Withdrawn, depressed, tired, and careless about personal grooming.
- Hostile and uncooperative; and frequently breaks curfews.
- Relationships with family members have deteriorated.
- Hanging around with a new group of friends.
- Grades have slipped, and his or her school attendance is irregular.
- Lost interest in hobbies, sports, and other favorite activities.
- Eating or sleeping patterns have changed; he or she is up at night and sleeps during the day.
- Has a hard time concentrating.
- Eyes are red-rimmed and or their nose is runny in the absence of a cold.
- Household money has been disappearing.
Other Clues of Drug Abuse in Young Adults
- The presence of pipes, rolling papers, small medicine bottles, eye drops, or butane lighters in your home
- Homemade pipes and bongs (pipes that use water as a filter) made from soda cans or plastic beverage containers
Suggestions of How to Handle Suspicion of Drug Use in Your Child
If any of these indicators show up, parents should present a united front. They may also want to seek other family members’ impressions. If you suspect that your child is using drugs, you should voice your suspicions openly, avoiding direct accusations. You should talk when he or she is sober or straight and you’re calm. This may mean waiting until the next day if he or she comes home drunk from a party, or if their room reeks of marijuana.
Here Are Some of the Most Frequently Used Excuses of Drug Abuse
- I was keeping/holding it for a friend.
- A drink got spilled on me
- I just took a sip – I didn’t know it had alcohol in it.
- That smell is my new incense.
- All my friends are doing it.
- It’s only alcohol – at least I don’t smoke dope.
- It’s only marijuana – at least I don’t do hard drugs.
- I just tried it once and I’ll never do it again.
- It’s normal to experiment when you’re a teenager.
- My eyes are bothering me – I probably have allergies.
- I’m just tired.
- It’s cool to wear sunglasses, even inside.
- At least I don’t drink and drive.
- If you think I am bad, you should see what John or Jane does.
- It’s not like when you were young – it’s a different world.
- They made me do it.
Get Involved in Your Child’s Life to Keep Them Away from Abusing Drugs
- Ask about what’s been going on in and out of school.
- Discuss how to avoid using drugs and alcohol in the future.
- If you encounter reluctance to talk, enlist the aid of your child’s school guidance counselor, family physician, or a local drug treatment referral and assessment center. They may get a better response.
- Explore what could be going on in your child’s emotional or social life that might prompt drug use.
Take the time to discuss the problem openly with your child. Knowing that they can talk to you without fear of being turned away is an important first step on the road to recovery. It shows that your child’s well-being is crucial to you and that you still love him, although you hate what he’s doing to himself. But you should also show your love by being firm and enforcing whatever discipline your family has agreed upon for violating house rules. You should go over ways to regain the family’s trust such as calling in, spending evenings at home, and improving grades.
What You Can Do on Your Own to Stop Your Child from Drug Abuse
Start early in your child’s life to express your love, to talk frequently to your child, and to be supportive. These are vital ingredients in the prevention of drug abuse and, indeed, in the healthy development of every facet of your child’s life. Make sure your child knows you love them.