8 Warning signs of teen drug use.

There are many warning signs of drug use and abuse in teenagers. The challenge for parents is to distinguish between the normal, sometimes volatile, ups and downs of the teen years and the red flags of substance abuse.
  1. Being secretive about friends, possessions, and activities.
  2. New interest in clothing, music, and other items that highlight drug use.
  3. Demanding more privacy; locking doors; avoiding eye contact; sneaking around.
  4. Skipping class; declining grades; suddenly getting into trouble at school.
  5. Missing money, valuables, or prescriptions.
  6. Acting uncharacteristically isolated, withdrawn, or depressed.
  7. Using incense, perfume, or air freshener to hide the smell of smoke or drugs.
  8. Using eye drops to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils.

When your teen has a drug problem

Discovering your child uses drugs can generate fear, confusion, and anger in parents. It’s important to remain calm when confronting your teen, and only do so when everyone is sober. Explain your concerns and make it clear that your concern comes from a place of love. It’s important that your teen feels you are supportive.

Five steps parents can take:

  • Lay down rules and consequences: Your teen should understand that using drugs comes with specific consequences. But don’t make hollow threats or set rules that you cannot enforce. Make sure your spouse agrees with the rules and is prepared to enforce them.
  • Monitor your teen’s activity: Know where your teen goes and who he or she hangs out with. It’s also important to routinely check potential hiding places for drugs—in backpacks, between books on a shelf, in DVD cases or make-up cases, for example. Explain to your teen that this lack of privacy is a consequence of him or her having been caught using drugs.
  • Encourage other interests and social activities: Expose your teen to healthy hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Scouts, and after school clubs.
  • Talk to your child about underlying issues: Drug use can be the result of other problems. Is your child having trouble fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress?
  • Get Help: Teenagers often rebel against their parents but if they hear the same information from a different authority figure, they may be more inclined to listen. Try a sports coach, family doctor, therapist, or drug counselor.


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