For Parents

Mental Health & Wellness

Signs of Substance Use:

Do you suspect that your child is abusing alcohol or using drugs? Are you worried? Have you noticed some changes with your child? As a parent, it is normal to be concerned.

Here are some of the warning signs to look for:

1. Physical and health signs of drug abuse

  • Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
  • Frequent nosebleeds could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine).
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Seizures without a history of epilepsy.
  • Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
  • Impaired coordination, injuries/accidents/bruises that they won’t or can’t tell you about- they don’t know how they got hurt.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing. Also increased use of “odor-covering” products, such as perfumes, air fresheners, incense, or mouth-wash.
  • Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.

2. Behavioral signs of alcohol or drug abuse

  • Skipping class, declining grades, getting in trouble at school. This is the #1 sign of drug abuse.

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work--loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise--decreased motivation.

  • Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.

  • Missing money, valuables, prescription or prescription drugs, borrowing and stealing money.

  • Acting isolated, silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.

  • Preoccupation with alcohol and drug-related lifestyle in music, clothing and posters.

  • Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.

  • Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities).

3. Psychological warning signs of alcohol or drug abuse

  • Unexplained, confusing change in personality and/or attitude.

  • Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.

  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.

  • Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appears lethargic or “spaced out.”