Red Flags

Adolescence is a process of growing and maturing. While it is often a challenging time, it is not a destructive and negative time in life. The mood swings and unpredictable behavior of the tween and teen years often make it hard to tell if a child is using drugs – but there are some red flags you can watch out for. If your child exhibits one or more of the following behaviors or moods, drugs may have become a part of his or her life:

  • She’s withdrawn, depressed, tired, or careless about her personal grooming.
  • He’s hostile, uncooperative, and frequently breaks curfews.
  • Her relationships with family members have deteriorated.
  • He’s hanging around with a new group of friends.
  • Her grades have slipped, and her school attendance is irregular.
  • He’s lost interest in hobbies, sports, and other favorite activities.
  • Her eating and sleeping patterns have changed; she’s up at night and sleeps during the day.
  • He has a hard time concentrating.
  • Her eyes are red-rimmed and her nose is runny — but she doesn’t have allergies or a cold.
  • Household money has been disappearing.
  • You have found any of the following in your home: pipes, rolling papers, small medicine bottles, eye drops, butane lighters, homemade pipes, or bongs (pipes that use water as a filter) made from soda cans or plastic beverage containers.

Some of these indicators can be caused by emotional problems or physical illness. Discuss the possibility with your child’s doctor and, if necessary, take him or her in for a physical exam. If illness is not the problem, it may be time to choose a course of action.