Portrait of a female learner having trouble studying
Portrait of a female learner having trouble studying

It isn’t always the ‘bad kids’ who experiment with drugs and end up with a substance abuse problem. Kids are very vulnerable to peer-pressure and if their friends are trying drugs, they might be tempted to try them too. For parents, it is a difficult issue to deal with. You might have your suspicions, but no hard evidence to back them up. But whether your fears are groundless or not, experimental drug-taking is not something to take lightly as it often leads to increasing levels of substance abuse. So if you are concerned about your child, here are a few tell-tale signs they might have a problem.

Secretive Behavior

When a previously cheerful, outgoing child suddenly becomes a recluse, shunning friends and family, or refusing to say where he or she is going, it is cause for concern. Teenagers do have a reputation for being monosyllabic at the best of times, but being secretive about phones and computers or becoming very withdrawn should alert you to the fact something is wrong.

Money and Valuables Going Missing

Drugs are not always cheap and kids who don’t have access to much cash will go looking for it anywhere they can. You might have noticed that money has been going missing and blamed it on forgetfulness. Or perhaps you can’t find a treasured piece of jewelry. Be aware that kids on drugs will steal from their family to fund their habit and morals go straight out of the window.

Poor Attendance at School

A previously high-achieving student who suddenly starts skipping classes or failing exams needs further investigation. Talk to your child and find out what’s going on at school to warrant such a change in behavior. It could be a bullying problem – or they could be skipping school to go and do drugs in a park somewhere.

A New Circle of Friends

Most kids have a close circle of friends – kids they have grown up with and known forever. When kids stop hanging around with their childhood best friends and start mentioning names you haven’t heard of, be concerned. Be even more concerned if they refuse to bring their new friends home to meet you and become very defensive if you suggest it.

Altered Physical Appearance

Drugs have a huge effect on the body over time. Substances abuse affects the eyes, the skin, and the hair, amongst other things, plus it has a profound effect on a child’s personality. You might be able to smell drugs on their clothes, or notice their eyes are always bloodshot. Your child might sleep more than usual, or their eating patterns have altered. Any changes in this area should be investigated.

Drugs are dangerous and unless you get your child help, events will soon spiral out of control. Try and encourage your child to open up and talk to you if they are having problems and don’t be judgmental if they admit to having tried drugs. Give them advice and look into drug detoxification programs (for more information visit First Step Detox here). With your help, they can overcome their problems and build a better life.