Signs Your Child has a Drug Problem

Posted by Prelude on Jun 15, 2015 1:37:00 PM


As a parent, your first job is to protect your child. When they’re young, this means to keep them away from the cleaning supplies under the sink, electrical sockets and sharp things. But when they’re teens, keeping them safe means something else entirely.

Teenagers are headstrong, independent and striving to find their personality. Sometimes this means they fall in with a toxic group of people that encourage them to do drugs, drink or participate in risky activities.

Drug use can be a cry for help, and the signs of it can often be obscure or missed. Here are some of the signs of drug use that parents might miss.


When people are using marijuana, they often appear clumsy and off-balance. They may be lethargic and less willing to participate in activities. Marijuana often makes users hungry, so they may be ravenous and consume snack foods. It also causes drowsiness, so users may appear to be sleepy or extremely relaxed.


Amphetamines, such as methamphetamine or certain prescription drugs, have a near opposite effect of marijuana. Users of amphetamines are often very energetic for short periods of time, and have dilated pupils. They are in near-constant motion, and can grind their teeth or clench their jaw tightly.


A common drug growing in popularity among teenagers, inhalants such as gasoline or aerosol paint. They are ordinary chemicals that people breathe in to feel “high.” Users are often irritable, slur their speech, appear drowsy and have a strong chemical odor. Many inhalant users can be violent as well.

All Drugs:

There are common threads between all drugs and addictions. No matter the addictive substance or activity, many teenage users have to lie to cover up their use. They can be withdrawn from activities, and they can be depressed or disinterested in activities that once made them happy. 

It’s expensive to keep up a drug habit, and, since many teenagers lack the time or ability to work, some resort to theft to cover their addiction. If you notice large, unexplained sums of money or lavish items in their possession, don’t be afraid to speak up.

A telltale sign of drug use or addiction in teenagers is their grades. It’s hard to remain interested, engaged and involved in the classroom when struggling with addiction. Concerned parents can use grades or teacher feedback as a litmus test of their child’s possible addiction.

Prelude Iowa: Get your friends or family help with their addiction.

We're Here to Help.

At Prelude, we work tirelessly to improve the lives of individuals, their families, and members of their communities.

From prevention to intensive residential care, Prelude offers a range of services to help you and your loved one lead a full, productive life.  Prelude Behavioral Services has been providing comprehensive services since 1969. We are committed to serving hard-to-reach and disenfranchised populations and to breaking down barriers that hinder access to behavioral health care for all Iowans.



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