There are several signs your child might be doing drugs. I’ve chosen seven common ones, but if you are worried about your son or daughter, you shouldn’t consider these sevens signs to be the final word.

There are books, web sites, and plenty of info on preventing drug use and addressing existing drug use. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is, in my opinion, one of the top national resources regarding substance abuse and mental illness. The DEA also has a useful guide for parents. Also, there are some other government sites that offer information that might not appeal to teens but can help parents understand the science of drug use and abuse.

Seven Signs Your Kid Might Be Doing Drugs (Or Abusing Alcohol)

1. Secrecy. Your once open pre-teen or teen not only stays in his/her bedroom most of the time but becomes frantic if you attempt to enter the room. He/she won’t tell you anything about their lives except the barest minimum of information. He/she demands that you respect their privacy.

2. Missing Stuff. You swore you had a twenty dollar bill in your dresser, and you cannot find it. You thought you had a full bottle of your prescription sleeping pills, but it seems the bottle is half empty. Your scotch is a decidedly lighter color than it was and you realize it’s been diluted with water.

3. Messed Up. Your teen is stumbling, his/her eyes are bloodshot or half-closed, his/her words are slurred.

4. Stink. The smell of pot or alcohol is on their clothes. Or, they smell overwhelmingly of tobacco (some kids smoke to hide the smell of drugs). Or they or the cars and rooms reek of Febreze or lysol or other air spray.

5. Friends. Their friends are obviously not good news. Or, their friends seem just fine. Truth is, you can’t tell. But if your teens and pre-teens are secretive about their friendships, this may be a clue, especially if they don’t want you to meet their friends.

6. Grades. Your child’s grades drop, even if subjects that they used to excel in.

7. Extra-curricular Activities. Your child no longer wants to be on an athletic team or participate in the drama club or debate team or whatever group they used to belong to. All they want to do is “hang-out”.

8. Bonus. Many kids are talking to dealers over the Internet and by cell phone. It’s not just sexual predators out there on the web; there are drug predators, too.

Remember: There are more signs. These are just a few common ones.

Photo: Santa Cruz 4/20 celebration at Porter Meadow on UCSC Campus; Sroalf



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    Last reviewed: 15 Jun 2011

APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2011). Seven Signs Your Kids Might Be Doing Drugs. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 7, 2015, from


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