Is My Teen Using Drugs? 

Has your teenage son or daughter been behaving noticeably and drastically different? Is your gut telling you there’s something not quite right? Here are suggestions to help you if you suspect your child is using drugs.

One of the most trying times for parents is when their child begins to make the transition from being their “baby” to becoming their own person, with strong desires and a need to discover who they are. With mood swings and sometimes stubborn outbursts, the teen years can be difficult for both the parents and the kids. But, what if these changes are exceptionally different from the “norm”? What if you suspect your son or daughter has begun using drugs?

While it’s never going to be easy to come straight out and ask your teen if he or she is using drugs, if you don’t develop an open, honest relationship with your child, you are missing the opportunity to help them grow and achieve their own personal best, and you may be putting them in danger. If your son or daughter knows they can come to you and talk to you and be heard by you, they will feel safe and emotionally more grounded.

If you feel your child may be using, there are potential signs you can look for:

In the Home

  • Loss of interest in family activities
  • Verbally or physically abusive
  • Sudden increase or decrease in appetite
  • Disappearance of valuable items or money
  • Breaking curfew/rules
  • Not telling you where they are going
  • Lies about activities

At School

  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Loss of interest in learning
  • Sleeping in class
  • Defiance
  • Loss of interest in sports or other extracurricular activities


Physical/Emotional Signs

  • Changes friends
  • Unexplainable mood swings and behavior
  • Negative, argumentative, paranoid or confused, destructive, anxious
  • Becomes increasingly rebellious
  • Doesn’t seem happy/seems depressed
  • Overly tired or hyperactive
  • Drastic weight loss or gain
  • Sloppiness in appearance

What now? Don’t dismiss the warning signs. It can be tempting to minimize or dismiss the warning signs sometimes. And almost every potential red flag can likely be explained away by something else.

Not every teen who does something on this list is going to be doing drugs, but every teen who does drugs does things on this list. If you find that some of these warning signs fit your teen, take a look at the whole picture.

Become more involved in your son or daughter’s life. Take a daily look at his or her activities, who he or she is with and where he or she is going. And, ask. Yes, ask your child if he or she is using. If you are not quite sure where to begin, start by speaking with your spouse. Call your child’s Teacher/Coach and ask if they have noticed any issues. Plan your conversation with your child and know what you are going to ask. Approach your child with concern and support and make sure you choose a time that will allow for an honest, real conversation. And remember to listen; don’t do all the talking.

If your suspicions are confirmed, anchor yourself and be prepared to ask for help for your son or daughter and for yourself.