If Only I Had Known

Warning signs to watch for

Warning Signs

Determining if your child is using drugs or alcohol can be a challenge. Many symptoms and signs of substance abuse can be confused/viewed as typical young adult behaviors. However, if you notice any of the changes described below, it is okay to err on the side of caution

Behavioral symptoms/signs

  • Change in priorities (school work, job, maintaining relationships)
  • Change in habits
  • Involvement in criminal activity
  • Changed relationships with friends or family members
  • Using over-the-counter preparations to reduce the red in their eyes or any nasal irritation
  • Having financial problems
  • Increase in going out more
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Is caught lying more or sneaking around

Mood and Personality Changes

  • Increase in aggressive/irritability
  • Shows increase in mood changes or emotional instability
  • Lacks motivation
  • Withdrawn/depressed
  • Secretive/deceitful
  • Lack focus
  • Usually elated
  • Hyperactive
  • Becoming more silent/uncommunicative

Physical Symptoms / Signs

  • Weight changes
  • Constricted or dilated pupils
  • Body odors
  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Physical coordination is poor
  • Looking unkempt
  • Track marks on legs or arms (or wearing long sleeves in warm weather to hide any marks)

Health Issues

  • Tends to be tired
  • Lethargic
  • Slurred speech or rapid fire speech
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Runny nose (not caused by a cold or allergies)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Cotton mouth (wetting lips or excessive thirst)
  • Dramatic or sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Accidents/injuries
  • Bruises/skin abrasions/sores
  • Depression

Work or School Problems

  • Loss of interest
  • Increase in absenteeism
  • Failure to fulfill/perform responsibilities at work or school
  • Reports of intoxication
  • Lacks interest in extracurricular activities/hobbies
  • Continually receiving bad grades
  • Unable to hold a job

Things to look at for in your home

  • Missing alcohol
  • Hidden stashes or alcohol or drugs
  • Disappearance of over-the-counter prescription pills
  • Disappearance of valuables or money
  • Smell in their car or room
  • Unusual containers, wrappers, pipes, rolling papers, medicine bottles, lighters, eye drops
  • Continually locking bedroom door

If you are noticing some of these signs, it might be important to prepare yourself to have a conversation with your child.