Is My Child Using?

Is my child using?

Signs & Symptoms of Teen Substance Abuse

If you notice any of the following, you may want to seek help immediately.

  • Physical signs of substance abuse use:
    • Peculiar odors of marijuana, alcohol, or solvents on your child, on his or her clothing, in the house, or in the car
    • Presence of drugs or drug paraphernalia in your child’s environment or in dirty laundry (presence of seeds, leaves, or butts; use of small baggies, cigarette papers, tin foil, light bulbs)
    • Use of eye drops, room deodorizers, or incense
    • Slurred speech or intoxication (impairment of physical function may signal an event requiring immediate medical attention)
  • Noticeable changes in school performance (drop in grades or attendance, disciplinary reports from the school)
  • Sudden change in social pattern (new friends, activities, choice of music)
  • Secretiveness about friends or activities
  • Sudden change in family relations (withdrawal, belligerence, marked increase in family arguments either with parents or with siblings, especially regarding setting limits)
  • Noticeable change in personality (lethargy, loss of motivation or interest)
  • Sudden changes in mood (aggressive anger, sullenness, uncaring attitude and behavior)
  • Deterioration in physical appearance (general unhealthy appearance, bloodshot eyes, lack of alertness, decrease in neatness or personal hygiene)
  • Involvement in legal problems or delinquent behavior
  • Unusual financial problems, repeated pawning or selling of personal effects
  • Extreme dress, language, opinions, or behavior

What do I say/What can I do?

Even if you believe your teen is just “experimenting” it’s important to take action right away. Casual drug use can quickly turn into drug abuse, dependence or addiction and can lead to accidents, legal trouble and serious health issues.

If you are at all concerned about your child – or even just have a bad feeling – you can and should intervene by:

  • Setting tighter limits with clear consequences
  • Getting outside help and support if necessary
  • Having productive conversations with your child -- remain calm, share your concerns and listen.
  • Closely monitoring your child's behavior and activities

To see more Intervention tips and programs click here!

Source: The Partnership at

Where can I get help for my son/daughter?

  • Click here to locate a drug and alcohol abuse treatment program near you.
  • Click here to visit the Alcohol Screening website.