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Parents' Guide to Drug Abuse: Signs of Addiction

Parents' Guide to Drug Abuse: Signs of Addiction

Parents’ Guide to Drug Abuse: Signs of Addiction

Sometimes it can be hard for you as a parent to differentiate between your child’s newly defiant and rebellious behavior (that can just be a sign of the teenage years) and signs of addiction. You think you know your kids and then all of a sudden things start to change. They argue with you, they want to go out all the time, they are breaking the rules, and they have an opinion about everything.

During this time your kids are also exposed to a wide variety of new experiences. They also begin to get very curious. This is around the time where your kids can choose whether or not they want to try drugs and alcohol. The reality of the situation is that they might, so it is important for you to know the signs of addiction if your child’s curiosity with drugs and alcohol starts to cross the line into something more serious such as a drug and alcohol addiction.

You may end up catching them in the act, you could get a call from their school, or in a worst case scenario you may be dealing with the police. If you have been drug testing you may end up with a positive drug test. Either way you find out, your worst suspicions have now been confirmed. Now you know the truth and at least now you know what you are dealing with.

If they are using it’s better to know and fight it early on. Merely suspecting that your kid is abusing drugs or alcohol and not knowing for sure will leave you feeling powerless on what to do. Be aware is the first step in taking appropriate actions towards childhood drug abuse.

Here are some signs of addiction or signs of drug use if you think your child has been using drugs and alcohol.

Signs of addiction

  • Dramatic changes in your child’s behavior. Your child will evolve throughout adolescence and you can expect some differences in behavior but your child is essentially still the same person you know very well. Dramatic shifts in personality are worrisome. If your normally quiet and calm kid becomes aggressive or your normally outgoing child suddenly becomes very withdrawn you should investigate why.
  • Rolling papers, pipes, a bong, roach clips, burnt spoons, etc. Drug paraphernalia is a sure indication that your child has an addiction. Once your child has these accessories for drug use they are no longer experimenting but are fully using drugs. If you find a bottle of eye drops that might be a cause for concern also. Healthy kids don’t need eye drops unless they have been doing drugs. If your child says they’re holding “drug paraphernalia” for a friend, call their parents and get to the bottom of it. If it’s a lie you’ll expose the truth and if it’s the truth then both teens need help.
  • Incense. This could be innocent but a lot of kids will develop an interest in perfuming incense to cover up the smell of the drugs they have been using. The same goes for things such as mouth wash, mints, air fresheners, etc.
  • Unusual sleeping habits. Teens are usually grumpy in the morning and want to stay up late but if your kid is having very unusual sleeping habits this should set off an alarm. Also if your child stays awake for days on end or sleeps for days on end they may be using and recovering from drugs.
  • Small burns on the thumb and forefingers. This is a normal injury caused by smoking a joint to the very end or even smoking crack. Nothing else causes a burn injury on the thumbs and forefingers.
  • Talking in code or in a secretive way with their friends while you are in earshot.
  • A sudden change in friends, especially if longtime friends are replaced with a new group of less than likeable friends.
  • A sudden need for money with nothing to show for it (drugs and alcohol can cost a lot of money especially if they are using all the time)
  • A sudden drop in academic performance. An A and B student becomes a C and D student.
  • Your child no longer participates in activities they used to like and found reward in. Suddenly abandoning sports, music, or clubs without finding new activities is worrisome.
  • Lack of motivation. They don’t seem motivated to do much of anything especially achieve goals. Normal kids will have passions, desires and interest to pursue and accomplish. These desires might not be anything you approve of or like but they are there. If they don’t have any they may be using drugs and alcohol.
  • Appearing intoxicated. A lot of parents will explain this one away with wishful thinking. If your child seems confused, slow, lethargic or oddly energetic and erratic they could be high.
  • Signs of depression or isolation. Teens want independence and will go through some changes but an unusual demand to be left alone in the bedroom or refusal to participate in your family is a cause for concern.

Unless you actually catch your child in the act it can be hard to be 100% sure that your child has is abusing drugs but the more signs you see the higher the propability is. You are parent, trust your instincts. You know when something isn’t right with your children. Be aware, be involved, be a role model, and be an active participant in your child’s life and hopefully your child won’t be exhibiting any of these behaviors but know what they are so you can be prepared just in case.

If you or your adult child  needs treatment for Alcohol or Drug Addiction please call us at 800-951-6135 or visit us online at

If you liked this post you might also like:

Parents’ Guide to Drug Abuse: Signs You’re Enabling


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