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Overview of Signs That Your Kid is Using Drugs/Drug Paraphernalia

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about addiction, it’s not difficult to become addicted to mind-altering substances, but to be in the throes of active addiction is a very difficult lifestyle. With the threat of withdrawal symptoms always looming overhead, addicts find themselves increasingly willing to behave in ways that they never would have otherwise. In fact, it’s often the increasing desperation that addicts feel that result in the behavioral, psychological, and physical changes that alert loved ones to the addicts’ substance abuse problems. This is particularly true in the case of parents who have a child they believe could be using or even addicted to drugs.

9% Increase in marijuana use among high school seniors
29% Of high school students say it is easy to get illicit street drugs on school grounds
40% Of high school students report being able to get illicit drugs easily

Having a child become addicted to drugs is every parent’s worst nightmare. By nature, anyone who’s addicted to drugs is going to want to keep his or her addiction from those around him or her so that there’s no interference in the substance abuse problem. In the earlier stages of addiction, this may be because the addict is simply not ready to get sober, but as mentioned previously, the ever-present threat of withdrawals is another major factor. This is an extremely difficult situation for parents who may not be completely sure that their child is actual using drugs. However, there are a number of signs that can alert parents to the presence of an addiction in their children. It is so important to address addiction as early as possible because teens who use drugs are far more likely to carry on their addiction in college and beyond. If addiction is not treated at a young age it can affect one's adulthood. More and more statistics are even showing addiction with the elderly has roots to their adolescent years.

The following will provide information regarding the behavioral, psychological, and physical changes that many adolescents and teens will exhibit when they are suffering from substance abuse problems. As well, you’ll also find information regarding the drug paraphernalia that you might find in a teen’s possession when he or she is suffering from a substance abuse problem.

Behavioral signs your kid is using drugs

The behavioral signs of addiction is oftentimes the first observable indication that an individual is suffering from a substance abuse problem, and this is especially true of youths. As hard as they might try, the fact that they’re still living with their parents makes it difficult for them to hide such dramatic changes in behavior as those that are known to occur as the result of a drug problem. For instance, teens often begin to associate with a different social group or will have recently made new friends before the abnormal behaviors began; this is indicative of a social origin to the substance abuse problem, suggesting that the adolescent or teen has begun abusing alcohol or drugs due to peer pressure or to fit in with new peers.

Most Commonly Abused Substances Among High School Students

Depending on the substance of abuse, it’s common for teen substance abusers to begin using cologne or perfume excessively and may burn incense or candles in his or her bedroom. The purpose of the cologne or perfume and incense is to mask the scent of drugs that are imbibed via smoking, including marijuana and crack cocaine. The teen drug user might also begin to dress differently, perhaps taking less care in his or her appearance and, instead, seeming less and less concerned about his or her appearance. It’s also likely that the teen would start breaking curfew and staying out at much later hours than he or she would be allowed.

Psychological signs your kid is using drugs

Although you might consider them related, the psychological and behavioral changes warrant distinction. Rather than behavioral changes, psychological changes are the personality and mood changes that the teen will exhibit after becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs. The precise changes will vary considerably depending on the substance that he or she is abusing. For instance, depressants will cause him or her to become very emotionally flat, exhibiting very little emotional range and seeming very unconcerned about the things happening around him or her. Alternately, the teen might exhibit some semblance of anger or aggression if he or she is using stimulant drugs. With stimulants, there’s a surge of energy that can cause manic-like changes and can frequently manifest outwardly as aggression.

Psychological changes are the personality and mood changes that the teen will exhibit after becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs

Teens and young adults who are abusing drugs quickly become much less communicative. If they previously would converse openly with their parents, teen substance abusers become much more standoffish and reclusive. They are likely to respond to questions about their whereabouts and activities with frustration and avoidance. While under the influence, bizarre behaviors might be observed, such as random and unprovoked outbursts of laughter. Overall, the teen substance abuser’s personality appears to change dramatically through habitual drug use.

Physical signs your kid is using drugs It’s often the physical signs that parents find most concer

It’s often the physical signs that parents find most concerning as these include the bodily and health changes that result from substance abuse. Depending on the substance, a teen might suddenly begin gaining weight — which tends to be the case with alcohol, marijuana, and certain depressants that accompany an increase in appetite — or there might be a dramatic decrease in weight, the result of abuse of stimulant drugs like cocaine, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder medications, and other such substances.

Common Signs Your Kid May Be Addicted

  • Decreased interest in classes and extracurricular activities
  • Unexplained changes in behavior or personality
  • Time spent around people who have a reputation of drug abuse
  • Shifts in sleeping patterns and fluctuations of weight
  • Drastic change in grades or academic performance
  • Uncharacteristic mood swings, depression or irritability
  • Sneaky or suspicious behavior

There are also a host of physical effects that manifest as the result of specific types of drug use. For instance, those who inject substances — including heroin, certain painkillers, or even stimulant drugs like cocaine — will appear to have what are called track marks on their extremities. The most common locations for track marks are in the crook of the arm, the inner elbow, and along the interior of the arm between the elbow and wrist. However, track marks can also be found on the tops of hands, around the wrist, on the legs, and on the feet among many other places.
A substance abuser appears to have a major decline in physical health. Oftentimes they appear to be pale with sullen, sunken cheeks and a dead look in their eyes. They appear uninterested in their surroundings and give off an impression of being sickly in many cases. If they are smoking the drug, they might develop a raspy, rattling cough as a result of the frequency of their abuse. As well, drug use makes users more susceptible to illness, so it’s likely that the teen will start getting sick more frequently than he or she normally would.

Psychological signs your kid is using drugs

Another trademark sign that your teen is using or abusing mind-altering substances is paraphernalia. With many substances, certain utensils are required for administration, otherwise the individual is virtually unable to imbibe the substance. Therefore, certain drugs are almost always indicated by the presence of certain types of paraphernalia. To help you determine whether your child has a drug problem, we are going to talk about some of the most common types of paraphernalia and explain why they indicate the use of certain types of drugs.

The most common substance of abuse for teens is consistently alcohol, which is abused by almost 40 percent of high school teens over any given 30-day period. The second-most abused substance is marijuana, which is abused by more than 21 percent of high school-age teenagers.

1. Pipes and smoking apparatuses
There are a number of substances that are imbibed through smoking, including marijuana, crack cocaine, crystal meth, synthetic marijuana, and certain others. There are even some substances that are not usually associated with smoking that can potentially be consumed by smoking as well. If you find pipes or other types of smoking apparatuses in your child’s possession, there is a very strong indication that the child is abusing a mind-altering substance. Since marijuana is an extremely popular drug for young first-time users, marijuana use would be the mostly likely situation to result in ownership of a pipe or smoking apparatus; marijuana would result in a lack of energy, bloodshot eyes, and an increase in appetite among other behavioral signs.
Alternately, there are numerous stimulants that can be consumed through smoking, including crack cocaine and crystal methamphetamine. If you child has pipes in his or her possession and sometimes appears to be manic with unexplained energy, there’s a strong indication that he or she is smoking stimulant drugs.

2. Straws, hollowed pens and cards
Another very popular drug for youths has been prescription pills. These drugs are often available in the medicine cabinets of their own homes or in the homes of family members and friends. For this reason, prescription drugs are one of the most common drugs of abuse among youths. If your child has been abusing prescription pills, it’s very likely that you would find straws, hollowed pens, and cards in his or her possession. The cards — credit cards and identification cards especially — are usually kept in a pocket or another convenience place alongside straws or hollowed pens. The cards are used to crush prescription pills into a fine powder for insufflation, or snorting, which is achieved with the straw or hollowed pen. However, there are other drugs that come in powdered form — cocaine and heroin in particular — that can also be imbibed in this way, so if you find cards and straws in your child's possession, the most likely drugs of abuse include prescription drugs, cocaine, and heroin.

3. Spoons and needles
Often considered a parent’s worst nightmare is the discovery of spoons and needles in a child’s possession. The first and most obvious indication is that there has been intravenous heroin use. This is especially apparent when there is black residue from being charred by a lighter on the underside of the spoon. There might also be residue from some type of liquid and possible bits of cotton stuck to the spoon. Hypodermic needles are irrefutable evidence of intravenous drug use since the only other excuse for a child to carry needles is for diabetes. Otherwise, this is pretty strong evidence of intravenous heroin use. However, there are other drugs that can be administered intravenously, including cocaine, crack cocaine, and certain prescription drugs.

  • Over a one-year period, it’s estimated that more than 70 percent of teens abuse alcohol, 35 percent abuse marijuana, and almost 7 percent abuse Adderall
  • Among high school students who can access illicit drugs, nearly 63 percent report that they obtain drugs from someone associated with street gangs.