Signs Your Child May be Using Drugs or Alcohol
One of the biggest problems with alcohol is that it is so readily available. When your child or teen is not at home, you may worry severely that he or she is drinking in a social situation that is unsafe. Teenaged parties and get together types of events can often end with drinking, and so many parents end up worrying themselves sick about whether or not their child may be drinking. If you are worried that your teen might be using drugs or alcohol, then there are certain things you need to think about.
So how are you going to be able to tell that your child or teen is utilizing alcohol or drugs? It can be difficult to tell exactly what is going on because there are certain changes that are common in children and teens including changes in their moods or their attitudes, unusual outbursts of temper, changes in their energy levels and sleeping habits and even changes in their interests and hobbies.
You should also consider looking for signs of withdrawal, depression, carelessness with cleanliness and grooming, hostility or agitation. Is your child currently performing well in school, are they getting along with their friends and are they participating in extracurricular activities like sports?
Signs That Your Child May Be Using Drugs Or Alcohol
Your teen may suddenly seem to be interested in keeping new people as friends. They may distance themselves from people that they once spent a lot of time with, in favor of a “new crowd” of people. In many circumstances, this new crowd of people may be completely different from the types of friends that your teen normally keeps. They may seem to be the polar opposites of what you are accustomed to. Additionally, your teen might not want you to meet their new friends, or they may seem very wary about talking about these new friends.
Your teen may suddenly experience changes in his or her behavior at school. This can manifest in a number of different ways as well. For example, they may no longer pay attention in school or they may refuse to do homework. They may miss class periods or ditch school all together. Their grades may decline or their test scores may indicate that they are not taking the material seriously. They may get into fights in school, or get detention because they are messing around in class rather than focusing.
Your teen may begin to become increasingly secretive about certain parts of his or her life. For example, he or she may suddenly become more secretive about private possession, the bedroom and who is allowed to enter, activities, where he or she is going, spending free time, who he or she is hanging out with and so on. In addition to an increase in secrecy, your child or teen may also begin to tell lies to you in order to downplay what he or she is doing, where he or she is going, who he or she is hanging out with and so on. These lies may start off small enough and the teen will continue to try and hide the substance abuse problem as time goes on.
Your child or teen’s clothing and grooming choices may suddenly change. They may begin to wear different clothing, or they may seem to change their mind about basic hygiene and grooming habits. They may stop combing their hair or applying makeup or they might start wearing ragged or baggy clothing. A marked change in their physical appearance is a huge indicator that something is going on that requires you to address it.
They may seem to need money all the time. They may be asking to borrow money, asking for an advance on their allowance, or outright insisting that you give them money. They may act secretive if you ask them what the money is for, or they might make up lies to downplay how they intend to spend the money. Money may even go missing from your wallet or pocketbook without any apparent explanation.
You may even find evidence that your child or teen is using drugs or alcohol by actually finding drugs, drug paraphernalia or alcohol in the home, in their laundry or in their room. You might find a pipe, rolling papers, small bottles of alcohol and remnants of drugs like white powder or marijuana seeds and so on. This is a sure fire sign that your child is either using drugs on their own, or using drugs with other people. You may also find evidence that your child or teen is abusing inhalants, such as nail polish, hair spray, correctional fluid, common household cleaners and so on. You might find the chemicals themselves or you might find paper bags, rags, stained clothing and so on.
Your child might be using eye drops in large quantities as an attempt to mask dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes. They may use breath mints and mouthwash in large quantities as a means of covering up the fact that they have alcohol on their breath. They might be using room deodorant, incense and perfumes in order to hide chemical odors or the presence of smoke in the room. If they are doing any of these things excessively then the odds are good that they are trying to hide something from you.
You might notice that prescription drugs are going missing. You may notice pain killers, narcotics, mood stabilizers and similar medications that you keep in your home are suddenly dwindling in their numbers. This is an indicator that your child is abusing substances. They may be abusing more than just your prescription medications, though, so you really need to look further into the situation to find out exactly what is going on in your home. A little bit of investigative work may reveal that your child is abusing other substances as well.
Getting Your Child Help For Substance Abuse
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These are changes that are often going to signal that something very harmful is going on. When something along these lines is happening, then the involvement is often drugs or alcohol. If you believe that your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol, then it’s your responsibility to take your child to the family physician to find out about routine drug screening for alcohol and other drugs. Urine exams and blood exams are common for this purpose, but your doctor might also be able to talk with your teen to find out about what they are up to.
Some of the signs and symptoms mentioned above can also mean that other things are going on, such as gang involvement, depression, suicide risk and so on. It is vitally essential that you be on the lookout for these types of signs so that you will be able to spot trouble before that trouble becomes something much more severe.