Information for Parents

Signs to look for

Many parents want to know what to look for in their teenager that might indicate he/she is using drugs or alcohol. There are some signs that might indicate your teen is using. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that if your teen is displaying the following behaviors, it doesn’t mean he/she is definitely using a substance. Remember, as teenagers, behavior changes are expected. If, however, you do notice more than a few of the signs below, either have a serious talk with your teen or contact someone who can help - a guidance counselor at school, a substance abuse center, pediatrician, etc.

  • Negative change in school performance
  • Increased secrecy
  • Use of room fresheners to cover up smoke or chemical odors
  • Use of new lingo
  • New circle of friends
  • Change in dress style
  • Increased asking for money
  • Possession of pipes, lighters, rolling papers and/or other paraphernalia
  • Possession of inhalants, including hair spray, nail polish, canned air, cleaning products, etc.
  • Possession of Visine to alleviate bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
  • Use of breath mints, etc. to mask the smell of alcohol
  • Missing prescription drugs

Adapted from information provided by