teen on drugs

10 Behavioral & Physical Indicators Your Teen May Be on Drugs


Sober Recovery Expert Author

teen on drugs

One of the things that makes the teen years so difficult is that your kids are starting the process of separating from you; of forming their own opinions and developing into the people they are going to become.

This leads to behavioral changes that can be maddening for parents to deal with. It can also make it difficult to tell when you are dealing with normal teenaged behavioral changes, or when there is something wrong, like a drug problem.

Think your child may be on drugs? Use our quick checklist of warning signs so you know what to look for.

Here are ten common signs that your kid might have a drug problem.

Behavioral and Personality Changes

Although behavioral changes are part of the territory with teenagers, there are still certain behaviors that could signal a serious problem.

  1. If your child goes from being gregarious and outgoing, to quiet and withdrawn, that could be a sign of drug use, or another serious problem. The same could be said if your child suddenly goes from being quiet and contemplative, to aggressive and argumentative.

  2. Sudden changes to your teen’s circle of friends. Granted, it’s possible that your teen will outgrow some of his elementary school friends, or transfer to a school where he has to make new friends; but if he has had several good friends since grade school, and they have all been replaced with new models, this could be a sign of some kind of dramatic upheaval. You should also be wary if you have never met any of your kid's friends.

  3. Changes in school attendance and performance. For a lot of kids, skipping school is a sort of rite of passage, but it doesn’t happen often and is fairly harmless. The same goes for avoiding homework. But if your teen skips classes on a regular basis, or goes from straight As to Cs and Ds, that could be a sign that something is seriously wrong.

  4. Anti-social behavior. Getting into trouble with law enforcement, having behavioral issues at school, and developing a bad reputation in the neighborhood can all be signs of a serious underlying issue.

  5. Changes in interests and activities. Kids change their minds, it’s part of growing up and figuring out who they are going to be. That said, if they stop showing interest in something about which they used to be passionate, especially if they don’t seem to be that interested in anything else that could be a sign of a deeper underlying issue.

Physical Changes

Although behavior issues could be hard to spot, drug use also leaves physical signs that might be easier to recognize.

  1. Bloodshot eyes, frequent nosebleeds, and frequent sniffling, especially if your child does not have a history of allergies or sinus problems. Sure, it is possible to develop allergies later in life, but if your kid is suddenly wearing sunglasses indoors, and sniffling a lot, it could also be a sign of drug use.

  2. Changes in grooming or dress habits. Look for things like wearing long sleeves, or long pants, in hot weather; changes in bathing and personal hygiene habits, unusual smells from his clothing or body.

  3. Sudden weight loss or gain. Drugs can cause changes in dietary habits leading to weight loss. They can also cause fluid retention and bloating.

  4. Unexplained injuries and bruises. Everyone occasionally gets a bruise and can’t remember where they got it; but with drug users this is a common occurrence because the drugs can impair their balance and memory. If your child has suddenly become very accident prone and forgetful, he could have a drug problem.

  5. Appearing intoxicated or in withdrawal. Slurred speech, an unsteady gait, and loss of coordination are all signs of intoxication. If he has the shakes, and appears agitated or withdrawn, he could be going through withdrawal.

The thing to remember is that all of these changes to your child’s behavior and appearance could be signs of a serious problem. In many cases it could be drug use, but it could also signal other issues like a bullying problem at school, mental illness, or a serious health issue.

At any rate, if you notice any serious changes, it’s best to err on the side of caution and have your child checked out by a medical professional. If your child or someone you know needs help with addiction, please visit our directory of adolescent treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.





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