Look for changes in your teen’s or friend’s behavior, such as:
Changes in personality, such as when an outgoing child starts appearing withdrawn or and active child becomes lethargic and unmotivated
- Changes in friends, such as dropping long-time friends for new ones that you don’t know
- Increased physical complaints, such as more frequent headaches, upset stomach, and upper respiratory symptoms
- Changes in school performance, such as declining grades and skipping or sleeping through classes
- Changes in appearance, such as red eyes, unusually dilated pupils, or rapid weight loss
- Changes in emotional functioning, such as frequent anger outbursts in a child with no history of temper problems
Look for signs of intoxication, such as disorientation, changes in speech patterns, problems with motor coordination, odors of alcohol or marijuana, and flushed complexion.
But never forget the most direct way to find out if your teen or friend is using drugs: Ask them. This doesn’t have to be an accusatory conversation. Begin by observing the changes and then ask the questions. For example, “John, your personality seems different the last few months. Your grades are slipping and you complain about feeling bad in the mornings. I have to ask, are you drinking or using other drugs?”
For a wealth of information about teen substance use, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/parents/index.asp.