Signs Of Drug Use in Your Child
If you believe that your child is addicted to drugs or alcohol, please call New Life House right away at 888-357-7577 or email us at [email protected]. We can help you to find all the information you need in order to help your child begin the road to recovery.
It can sometimes be difficult to discern whether or not alcoholism and drug dependence is a problem with a child, especially during the teenage years. There can be certain warning signs, but some of them could also be chalked up to just being a teenager as well. Every child and situation will be different, so there is no overarching surefire method to determine drug use or alcohol addiction beyond direct admission or being caught red-handed. However, there are some specific signs and risk factors to look out for that can assist parents in determining the truth of their situation.
Poor Hygiene and Physical Condition
Many times, when an individual starts abusing drugs or alcohol, they make the drugs and/or alcohol their first and only priority. Because of this, they tend to forego taking care of their hygiene and physical appearance. Their hygiene will worsen due to a lack of care for their outward appearance. A few examples which you may notice include:
- Decrease in showers
- Wearing dirty clothes
- Body odor
- Hair loss
- Dry eyes
- Skin infections
- Yellow or dirty teeth
Lethargic or Manic Behavior
You’ll often notice that your child might flip-flop between periods of hypomania (lethargy, excessive sleeping, loss of appetite) and hypermania characterized by erratic behavior, insomnia, and extreme energy.
Change in Complexion
Frequent drug use can cause a change in one’s complexion such as paleness, acne, and in some cases jaundice. Furthermore, scars, burns, or suspicions marks on their bodies might also be a sign that they are using drugs.
Drastic Changes in Mood or Outlook
While changes in worldview and attitude toward others are a somewhat typical part of being a teenager, drugs and alcohol can have a dramatic effect on the way that adolescents see their lives and the world around them. Most commonly, depression is associated with addiction and can be a key factor in continuing the addiction. Different drugs will have different mental effects, so it can be helpful to be wary of overcautiousness looking for depression but ignoring constant euphoria.
Sudden Changes in Friends
Oftentimes, teens will find new groups of friends that share the affinity for drug abuse while leaving behind previous friends who may not be as interested in drugs and the activities that go along with them. If a parent notices that their child has a totally new group of friends seemingly out of nowhere, and the child is adamantly opposed to their parents meeting these new friends, it could be a sign that this new group is enabling drug abuse.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if a child is repeatedly being caught in dishonesty, they are probably getting away with at least one or more other lies that parents may not know about yet. Lies can start relatively small, but they can grow exponentially. If parents are not equipped to handle dishonesty effectively, it can get out of control and become a child’s favorite way to get past the rules and boundaries set for them.
Items or Money Disappearing Randomly
If drug abuse or addiction is a part of a child’s life, they will need to fund their habit somehow. If this is not done through an allowance or a job of their own, many adolescents will easily resort to stealing valuables, money, or even just random items from around the house in order to gain the cash they need to get their fix. It may start with small things that a child thinks will not be noticed when they are gone such as DVDs or things from their own room with any perceived value, but it can progress quickly to jewelry, cash, and credit cards.
Blatant Defiance and Anger
Most addicts and teenagers alike will react with anger when boundaries are set that they don’t like. When a teenager is an addict, the amplitude of this anger can get very nasty very quickly. An addicted child will not like the decisions made by their parents who just want to help them, and they can lash out with irrational and extreme behavior when faced with situations they don’t care for, and they tend to flat out ignore these boundaries at times as well.
Failing Grades or Skipping Class
It is very common for someone with substance abuse problems to either skip or start to fail their classes. Their academic performance takes a toll when their priorities start to shift from school to getting and using drugs. Substance abuse affects short-term and long-term cognition, causes difficulty in processing information, deteriorates the ability to understand simple thoughts, and hinders overall brain development. This makes it difficult for a student to succeed in school.
Another one of the general signs that your child is using is an increase in secretive behavior. As your child starts to struggle with drugs and alcohol, you may notice that they lock doors behind them, constantly leave the room to take phone calls, or even use the backdoor to leave or come home.
Hiding Household Items Associated with Drug Use in their Room
One of the more obvious signs that your child is using is hiding household items that are normally associated with drug use in their room. These items may include:
- Razor blades
- Pen cases
- Small spoons
- Eye drops
- Aerosol cans
Decline in Mental Health
A substance use disorder often co-occurs or exacerbates an existing mental health disorder. In many cases, drug or alcohol addiction is an unhealthy coping mechanism for mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or trauma. When seeking out treatment options, it is important to consider those who have a strong focus on addressing the underlying conditions that may have caused the alcohol or drug addiction in the first place because if not, the likelihood of relapse is high.
When It’s Time to Seek Help for Substance Abuse
The crucial component when confronting your child about the signs of drug use is having a plan in place to remove your son or daughter from their using environment. Understanding that your child is an addict and won’t stop until good and ready is significant.
No one regardless of age can stop until they concede to their innermost selves that they need help. Still, in an effort to impede the escalation of drug and alcohol abuse, it is imperative to put a roadblock up whenever possible where young people are concerned.
There is so much shame attached to drug addiction, and living in a long-term family-centered recovery community is a safe place to come to terms with it and make significant behavioral changes. Being in an environment where peers are on the same path, and supporting each other sets your son or daughter up to be able to achieve long-term sobriety, emotional health, and productive life.
Drug abuse is a rocky road. Some young people will slip and have a harder time finding their way, but when shown the solution to living free of substances – if they are truly addicts – they will know where to return to in order to get the help they need.
When parents look at the warning signs and realize that their child is an addict, it can feel helpless and terrifying. As scary as it may be, there are many great resources for parents and their children to get help with addiction. such as sober living facilities. Al-Anon is a worldwide organization that helps loved ones of addicts regain control and sanity in their lives, and it is free and accessible to everyone.
If you believe that your child is an addict and you don’t know what steps to take, call New Life House immediately at 888-357-7577 or email us at [email protected]. We would love to answer any questions you have and help you to make the right decision for your family to begin recovering.
Last Updated on May 3, 2023