How Can I Tell if
My Child Is Using Drugs?
One of the questions asked increasingly by parents is "How
can I tell
if my child is using drugs?" This is a most difficult question
signs and symptoms associated with behavior are used as a basis
(knowing) suspicion. It is difficult to separate the typical
adolescent behavior from the drug-induced behavior; but the parent
should consider the following behavior suspect:
1. Does the child seem to be changing?
Is the child becoming more: irritable, less affectionate, secretive,
unpredictable, hostile, depressed, uncooperative, apathetic,
withdrawn, sullen, easily provoked, oversensitive?
2. Is the child becoming less responsible?
Is the child: not doing chores, late coming home, tardy at school,
forgetful of family occasions (birthdays, etc.), not cutting grass,
allowing room to be untidy, not completing homework?
3. Is the child changing friends, dress code or interests?
Has the child: a new group of friends; the language of new friends;
hair styles like new friends; switched clothes styles; become
reluctant to talk about new friends; become very interested in
music and concerts; become less interested in school, sports and
academic hobbies; refused to talk about parents of new friends;
started insisting on more privacy; demanded permission to stay
later than usual?
4. Is the child more difficult to communicate with?
Does the child: refuse to talk about details of friendship and
activities, refuse to discuss "drug issues," become
negative effects of drug use are discussed, strongly defend occasional
use or experimental use of drugs by peers, insist that adults
their children, begin to defend "rights" of youth, prefer
about bad habits of adults?
5. Is the child beginning to show physical and/or mental deterioration?
Does the child show: disordered thinking or ideas and thought
that seem out-of- order; heightened sensitivity to touch, smell
taste; increased appetite from marijuana smoking(known as the
"munchies"); loss of ability to blush; decreased ability
thought processes; amotivational syndrome; weight loss?
Behavior changes as discussed in 1 through 5 may occur over a
of a few months, the summer, or over a year or more. These behavioral
patterns should be monitored closely by the parent. More blatant
behavior will begin if the child can manipulate his way through
aforementioned examples, and more obvious drug use behavior will
6. Is the child's behavior becoming more intolerable to parent?
Does the child: demand his right to drink alcohol, refuse to spend
additional time on studies even though grades are down, insist
teachers are unfair, become extremely irritable, refuse to do
use bad language, come home late with alcohol on breath, claim
are telling lies on him, claim never to have smoked pot, not want
eat with or spend time with family, act very secretive on telephone?
After behavioral clues to drug use, there usually comes the telltale
physical evidence that is difficult to deny. The child will usually
lie or give half-truths to parents when caught.
7. Is the child becoming careless in his drug use?
Does the child: forget to replace the liquor stolen from parents'
cabinet; put the bottle between mattresses; leave the "roach"
flower pot, in bathroom or car ashtray; forget who vomited in
car; insist that marijuana found in car or room belongs to someone
8.Is the child becoming drug dependent?
Does the child: take money from his parents, brothers or sisters;
steal objects from home that are easily converted to cash; lie
chronically; drop out of school?
Is the child: caught shoplifting, charged with burglary, charged
prostitution, arrested for drug use or a delinquent act?
Does the child attempt suicide?
-- Thomas J. Gleaton, Ed.D., Co-Founder
Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education
For more D.A.R.E.information
please goto the Links below
on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Greenville Family in Action Resource Center
Printing and distribution
of Parenting: Nurturing the Full Potential
of Our Children is funded by the Elks Drug Awareness Program,
which is sponsored by the Elks National Foundation.