For Parents: Spotting The Signs of Drug Abuse

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signs of drug abuseIf you don’t know the signs of drug abuse then you will be incapable of knowing when your son or daughter needs help. That is why, especially in today’s world, with prescription drug abuse on the rise and the social acceptance of marijuana and alcohol, that you know all the signs that your child may be abusing drugs.

 It is time to stop pretending like this couldn’t happen to you. Instead it is time to be proactive. Here are the signs of drug abuse so you can spot them before it is too late:

Most of the behavioral symptoms of drug abuse are the same regardless of the substance being used. Drug abuse negatively affects your child’s behavior and habits as they become more and more addicted to the substance. The substance itself can alter the brain’s ability to focus and even form coherent thoughts.


Here are some changes in behavior that may be signs of drug abuse:

Increased aggression 



Sudden changes in friends

Getting into fights

Impulsive decision making skills

As the compulsion to use the substance gets stronger and stronger your child’s performance at school or work will start to drop dramatically. This is because of lack of focus and also because their priorities are shifting.

The physical signs of drug abuse tend to vary based on the substance that your child is using. For instance the signs of drug abuse associated with alcohol would be totally different than the signs of drug abuse associated with heroin. So how can you keep up? Well if you know the basic signs of the most commonly abused substances you will be able to know if something else is up. Lets start with alcohol.

Signs of Drug Abuse: Alcohol

Alcohol is seen as innocent or even normal. Unfortunately this kind of lackadaisical attitude towards the substance leads many kids, teens and young adults into alcohol abuse. And we get it. Because of alcohol’s legality it is hard to control. Symptoms of alcohol abuse include:


  • Frequent hangovers
  • Irresponsible drinking
  • Excessive binge drinking
  • Smelling of alcohol on the breath or clothes

Signs of Drug Abuse: Marijuana

Marijuana, kind of like alcohol, is considered one of the softer drugs but marijuana is still prone to the most popular drugs among many demographics.

The first and most common sign that your child be smoking pot is incense. While many teenagers like incense just for the smell, sometimes it is used to cover up the smell of pot. Make sure to look for dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes if you smell incense or your child has a sudden interest in room sprays etc. Also, small burns on the ends of the thumb and forefinger could be a sign of frequently smoking a marijuana joint to the very end!


Signs of Drug Abuse: Heroin

Heroin is neither considered soft nor is it socially acceptable. Heroin is a very powerful and addictive narcotic opiate. Heroin most often is administered through injection into the vein but it is also smoked and snorted. If you see needle marks on your child’s arms get help immediately! In the long run, heroin drug abuse will most likely cause your child to lose weight, have collapsed veins, inflamed tissue around needle marks on the arms and constricted (very small) pupils.


Signs of Drug Abuse: Meth

Meth, shortened for methamphetamines, is a powerful stimulant. This means that meth revs you up! The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 2.4 percent of 12th grade students had used meth at least once. If you are trying to spot the signs of meth drug abuse look for paranoia and twitching. Meth drug abusers are also prone to aggressive outbursts or an inability to sit still. Sudden weight loss is very common in meth addicts. The reason for that is because the drug increases metabolism.


Signs of Drug Abuse: Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are often overlooked as drugs of abuse because, well, they are prescribed. But don’t be fooled! Anti-depressants and painkillers (Hydrocodone, OxyContin etc.) are the most commonly abused types of prescription drugs. The physical signs will vary but if you notice your child is running out medication faster or losing prescriptions it is time to talk.


We hope that these signs of drug abuse helped. Remember if you have a loved one, child or not, that is exhibiting any of these symptoms then please call us! We have multiple different ways we can help you! Whether your loved one needs treatment, detox, or aftercare and even if you need to set up an intervention we are here. In fact if you just need an assessment let us know! Call us at 866-683-8833