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Is Your Teenager Using Drugs or Alcohol?

Here Are Some Signs There May Be a Problem


Updated October 25, 2013

If your child is using alcohol and drugs, it's a good bet he (or she) is doing everything possible to keep that activity hidden. The last thing he wants is for his parents to give him a "hassle" about his newly-found "entertainment."

But continued alcohol and drug use will affect your child's behavior, attitudes and even choice of friends.

Here are some signs to look for, if you think that your child may be using:

Mood Swings

    Most teenagers go through normal mood swings. But look for extreme changes -- one minute happy and giddy followed by withdrawal, depression, or fits of anger or rage.

New Friends?

    If you child is using, chances are he will begin hanging out with others with similar interests. Has your child suddenly turned away from his old friends? Is he hanging out with an older (driving age) group or with those that you suspect are using drugs?

Bad Performance in School

    Has your child's attitude toward school suddenly changed? Have his grades gone from pretty good to very bad? Has he been skipping classes or school altogether?

Physical Health

    Have you noticed a change in appetite? Does your child suddenly have digestive problems. Has he been treated for medical conditions that might be attributed to substance abuse, like gastritis or ulcers? Have his sleeping patterns changed?

    Have you notice any alcoholic beverages missing? How about the medicine cabinet? Anything missing there? Have you found unexplained empty containers around the house or grounds? Any paraphernalia? Has he suddenly started smoking cigarettes openly?


    Has your child developed a negative attitude against anti-drug or anti-alcohol programs, materials or literature? Has he been in trouble with the law for any reason? Has he developed a bad attitude toward any authority figures in his life? Have you found that your child has generally become dishonest about things?

Little Things

    Have you noticed a change in hairstyle or "fashion" choices? Is he suddenly using breath mints consistently? Has he lost interest in tidiness in his room or does he pay less attention to personal hygiene?

Overt Signals

    Has anyone ever told you your child is drinking or using drugs? Do you know that he has "experimented." Has he suddenly developed the need for additional money, for vague or unexplained reasons? Have you ever seen him stagger? Or have you noticed any slurred speech? Changes in the pupils of his eyes, or redness or bloodshot eyes?

Again, many of these changes could be attributed to just growing up. But if you have noticed a pattern of several of these "signals" your child may be using alcohol or drugs.

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Is Your Teen Using Drugs?
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