If you think your child is drinking or using drugs, it’s important to take action immediately- don’t wait! There are many signs that might indicate substance abuse, or that your child is trying to cover it up.
According to The Partnership at Drugfree.org, these are some red flags that should command your attention, especially if they come up suddenly or were never a problem before:
- Change in relationships with family and longtime friends.
- Frequent nosebleeds and runny nose.
- Frequent illness, nausea and/or vomiting, headaches and sweating.
- Drop in grades and loss of interest in schoolwork.
- Loss of interest in sports, hobbies and extracurricular activities.
- Complaints from teachers or co-workers.
- Frequent accidents and injuries, and unusual clumsiness.
- Dramatic weight loss or weight gain.
- Loud, obnoxious behavior, and laughing at nothing.
- Messy, careless appearance and poor hygiene.
- Red, flushed cheeks or face.
- Burns or soot on fingers or lips.
- Sores and spots around the mouth.
- Heavy use of mints/gum and eye drops.
- Skin abrasions and bruises.
- Missing pills, alcohol, cigarettes, cash and valuables from the house.
- Unusual containers or items that are often used to make or stash drugs, such as butane lighters, pipes, rolling papers, toilet paper rolls and aluminum foil.
- Sullen, withdrawn, uncommunicative and depressed.
- Unusually tired and lethargic.
- Hostile, angry and uncooperative.
- Unable to speak clearly (slurred speech or rapid-fire speech).
- Unusually elated.
- Periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep.
- Frequent breaking of curfew.
- Avoiding eye contact.
- Locking bedroom door.
- Going out every night.
- Secretive texts, emails and phone calls.
- Voracious appetite and excessive thirst.
- Use of air fresheners, candles and incense.
If you recognize any of these signs in your teenager, there is help available. For more information about substance abuse counseling, inpatient/outpatient treatment and more, contact one of the following groups serving Long Island:
The Partnership at drugfree.org
Long Island Council on Drug and Alcohol Dependency
Huntington, Smithtown, Coram, Dix Hills, Wyandanch and Setauket
Riverhead Community Awareness Program
Phoenix House of Long Island
Family Service League
North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center
YES Community Counseling Center
The Kenneth Peters Center for Recovery