Signs of Drug and Alcohol Use

How can you tell if your child is using drugs or alcohol? Changes in mood, attitude, hobbies and interests are common in teens. However, keep your eyes open for these possible warning signs of drug and alcohol use:

  • Signs of depression or withdrawal
  • Carelessness in grooming habits
  • Changes in friends
  • Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades
  • Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, razor blades, even if they say that it belongs to a friend
  • Increased secrecy about possessions or activities
  • Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors
  • Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language
  • Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
  • Increase in borrowing money
  • Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories
  • Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes
  • New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol
  • Missing prescription drugs, especially narcotics and mood stabilizers

Adapted from Parents — The Antidrug website