7 Signs Of Teen Drug Use Parents Should Watch For

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Spotting drug use in general can sometimes be difficult — and it can be even more difficult when trying to identify the signs in a teenager.

As a parent, there are some telltale signs of drug use you can watch for, while others may be harder to spot. Every child is different and as such, the way drug use affects them can differ.

Here are a few of the major changes to watch for in your child if you suspect drug use.

1. Their personality has started to changed or has changed — and not for the better. 

If your teen is using drugs, there is a good chance you will begin to notice changes in the way they act or perform in situations like school, extracurriculars or even at home. This may mean they begin getting into trouble at school or their grades slip. It could also mean they begin treating people poorly or become less inclined to participate in the activities that once interested them. You may tell yourself that such changes are “normal” for teenagers, but they can also be signs of something more.

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2. You may notice changes in your teen’s mood or mental state.

Again, this could be easy to chalk up to normal teenage behavior. However, it’s something to be aware of if you suspect your child may be using drugs. Such changes may include your child becoming aggressive, physically or verbally. When challenged, they may begin threatening you with things such as running away or dropping out of school. Additionally, withdrawing, isolating and exhibiting signs of depression can also indicate substance use.

3. Their core group of friends changes. 

While this isn’t always the case, it certainly can be. If you notice your child is hanging out less with old friends and is instead running with a new crowd, it could be a sign of changes in their life. While this doesn’t automatically mean they are abusing drugs, it could serve as a sign if that is something you already suspect — especially if the new group isn’t necessarily the best in terms of influence and example.

4. You may catch them stealing or lying. 

In order to fund drug use, teenagers may sometimes resort to stealing money or valuables from the home, especially if they do not have a job with their own income. They may also lie about their whereabouts and the people they are spending time with. If you catch them stealing or in a lie, there is likely a deeper reason behind the circumstance. Take the time to look into it and listen to your intuition rather than push it aside.

5. Their physical appearance has changed. 

Use of drugs can lead to a number of physical signs. These signs may vary depending on the type of drug being used. Some such signs include, but are not limited to, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, shakes or tremors, nosebleeds, sudden weight loss or gain and decreased attention to personal hygiene.

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6. You have found suspicious items belonging to them. 

If anything will blatantly give away whether your child is using drugs, it’s drug paraphernalia. Such items include bongs, lighters, small bowls or pipes, weight scales, hypodermic needles, balloons and vials. If you find something that looks suspicious — even if you don’t know what it is — take the time to confront your child.

7. Your child just isn’t the same person they were. 

As a parent, you know your son or daughter. You have a gut instinct. If it is telling you something is wrong, listen to it. Do what you can to talk to your child and let them know you care. At the same time, be sure to keep an eye on their behavior and and activities. Keeping tabs on them is not the same as being overbearing.

If you have concerns, they are likely valid. Always remember that.


Beth Leipholtz is the founder of Life to be Continued, a blog about the realities of getting sober young. She writes about her own experience falling into substance use disorder and how she found her way back out. Beth also works as a web designer and photographer in Minnesota. Follow her on Instagram @beth_leipholtz and on Twitter @el9292.

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