How to spot kids’ substance abuse

Children may experiment with new clothing, hairstyles or attitudes as they grow. But sudden and extreme negative changes could signal substance abuse.

General warning signs

Warning signs of substance abuse include:

• Withdrawal from family and activities.

• Being irritable and argumentative.

• Lying.

• Seeming depressed, angry, paranoid or confused.

• Sleeping a lot or not very much.

• Gaining or losing a lot of weight.

• Lacking energy or being hyperactive.

• Skipping school and getting bad grades.

• Having trouble concentrating.

• Dropping old friends.

Signs of alcohol use

Someone intoxicated may have:

• The smell of alcohol on their breath.

• Lack of coordination.

• Memory lapses.

• Slurred speech.

Signs of marijuana use

Someone smoking pot may have:

• Giggly and/or uncoordinated behavior.

• Bloodshot eyes and constricted pupils.

• Strangely smelling clothes or bedroom.

• Problems remembering things that just happened.

• Belongings that promote drug use.

Signs of cocaine use

Someone using cocaine may have:

• Bursts of energy followed by restlessness and irritability.

• Dilated pupils.

• Paranoid or anxious behavior.

• A runny nose and nosebleeds.

Signs of amphetamine and meth use

Someone using these drugs may have:

• Hallucinations.

• Insomnia or unusual sleep patterns.

• Extreme anorexia.

• Mood swings or increased aggression.

• Nervous obsessive activities, such as scratching.

Signs of inhalant use

Someone using inhalants may have:

• A dizzy or dazed appearance.

• Slurred speech.

• A chemical smell on clothing.

• Unusual breath odor.

• Paint stains on body or face.

• Red eyes.

Get help

With treatment and time, young people can recover from addiction and lead healthy, productive lives.

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