As our children grow up and the protective blanket we place around them becomes unfastened, they come face to face with the difficulties of the modern world. Thrust into adulthood at a much younger age than previous generations, decisions that will affect their future are made earlier in life, increasing the pressures they encounter and the burden they must carry on their young shoulders.

There are also social problems that older age groups managed to avoid, such as cyberbullying from social media platforms. Also, the current Covid-19 pandemic has created anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem amongst our kids.

Additionally, the age-old problem of alcohol and drug use is becoming endemic, with an increasing number of children using substances for mental health issues. As a result, becoming addicted to those substances is a genuine risk, and the tragic consequences of addiction are more likely. 

How can I tell if my child is using substances?

Many of the cues and clues of substance abuse are typical teenage behaviors and can often be dismissed, ignored, and thought of as part of growing up. As alcohol and drugs are now easier to obtain, and with many new and highly addictive drugs available, parents need to be particularly understanding of and alert to any changes in their children’s behavior and habits.

There are often several indications that a young person may be using illicit drugs or alcohol. Each parent will know the habits and mannerisms of their children, and they are the best placed to identify if there is a problem. However, here are some of the most common signs that substances are misused.

What To Look Out For

  • Personality changes, being withdrawn, sullen, depressed or losing motivation.
  • Mood swings, including being angry, hostile, or uncooperative. Alternatively, a sudden loss of inhibitions, hyperactivity, or being elated may also be signs of intoxication.
  • Behavioral changes where your child may become distant with family members or old friends or have new acquaintances.
  • Asking for or stealing money from family.
  • Non-attendance to school or poor grades.
  • Staying out late at night or breaking curfew.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Unusual smells such as alcohol or marijuana.
  • Flushed appearance or a reddening of the face.
  • Frequent perspiration.
  • Track marks on arms or wearing long sleeves even in hot weather.
  • Being sick, tired, or lethargic. Sleeping for prolonged periods may also be a sign of substance abuse.
  • Sudden weight loss or other physical health issues, including sores, spots around the mouth, or skin abrasions.

Where To Look

For many parents, allowing their children a degree of privacy and trust is an all-important part of their development. Permitting them a certain amount of freedom from interference can help them gain independence and grow their self-confidence.

Being a responsible custodian is also vital if you sense a problem, and intervention may be necessary. Although they are growing up and will soon be adults, your child still needs guidance and protection from the dangers that life can throw at them.

There’s a fine line between what parents see as concern and what a child sees as an intrusion. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have been drinking or taking drugs. Watch their behavior, pay attention to eyes, skin tone, and body language.

If you have considerable cause for concern, searching their bedroom may be necessary; look for paraphernalia in concealed places under the bed or hidden in closets, drawers, or under floorboards.

Finally, it is important to raise your concerns sympathetically and remember to ask for help and advice from friends, family, experienced Finally, it is essential to raise your concerns sympathetically and remember to ask for help and advice from friends, family, experienced professionals, or support groups such as Other Parents Like Me.

Knowing that you are not alone is crucial for the health and mental wellbeing of you as a parent or caregiver.