Raising a teenager today is a tough job, probably the toughest you will ever have. You can try extremely hard to offer the best guidance and do all the right things but there may come a time when your confidence as a parent will be truly tested, like when you suspect that your teen is using drugs. There are many clues that can tip you off and make you believe that your teen has a substance abuse problem. Maybe you accidentally read an instant message sent to them from a friend or heard them discussing drugs with their friends. As much as we do not want to believe our child is using drugs, there are a few signs to watch out for:
1. Attitude Changes
If your teen has gone from being mild mannered to confrontational and angry, this can be a sign of drug use or other major changes in his/her life. While most teenagers have some sort of attitude change throughout adolescence, a significant mood shift accompanied by other signs of strange behavior are big red flags.
2. Medications Missing
If your teen does not have money to buy drugs there is a possibility they will search for medications in the medicine cabinet to get high. It is wise to stay informed on medications you may have in the home, as well as how much is on hand. Narcotics such as Oxycodone, Xanax, and Vicodin are commonly abused household medications.
3. Extreme Appearance Changes
One of the biggest sign your teen is using drugs is a sudden change in appearance such as weight loss, extreme change in how they dress, or have a sudden attraction to wearing sunglasses indoors. While teens go through plenty of fashion phases, attempting to hide the eyes or fit in with a rough crowd are signs that should alert you to potential threats.
4. Altered Sleeping and Eating Habits
Absence of appetite or insomnia are common signals to keep an eye out for when drug abuse is involved. Often times, teens that are coming down from a drug will have long sleeping spells where they are extremely hard to wake up. Loss of appetite is a common side effect of stimulant abuse, such as cocaine and prescription narcotics.
5. Money Missing
At first, you might not notice this. You might think that $5 you had must have got spent and you do not remember doing it, or $20 is missing. After a while, the rate that money comes up missing will signal you to something being wrong. Addiction can be a very serious influence on a young adult’s personality and choices. Desperation will lead them to do things they wouldn’t normally do, like steal money to get high.
6. Using Room Deodorizer, Incense, or Too Much Colognes/Perfumes to Cover Smoke Smell
Marijuana has a distinctive smell that young users will attempt to mask with an over-application of of cologne or perfumes.
7. Drug Paraphernalia
This is the biggest sign that your teen may be using drugs. Drug paraphernalia includes rolling papers, pipes, pill baggies or bottles, razor blades, vape pens, and syringes to name a few.
Although we never want to believe that our child would use drugs, unfortunately it does happen. When confronted the teen may deny it, which is natural. As much as we want to believe our child would not lie to us, when it comes to drug addiction, people will do all sorts of dishonest and uncharacteristic things in pursuit of their cravings.