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Drug Use Warning Signs in Teenagers

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

Our 16-year-old son has been getting poor grades lately and coming home much later than usual after nights out with his friends. My husband and I are worried that he might be drinking or doing drugs. We've asked him, but he says he has never done anything like that. We want to believe him, but are not sure. What can we do?



Dear Suspicious,

Your son may be telling you the truth. If his grades are falling, then restrict his social activities until he brings his grades up. Have a curfew and stick by it.

Have you seen any obvious evidence of alcohol or drug use such as alcohol smelling breath, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes or any drug paraphernalia (rolling papers, pipes, lighters, medicine bottles)? If you cannot find obvious evidence, but still suspect that your son is using drugs, then below are some warning signs to look for.


1. Missing school.

2. Declining grades.

3. Extreme mood swings.

4. Different set of friends.

5. Careless grooming.

6. Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

7. Acting secretive.

8. Frequently borrowing money.

9. Sluggish or hyperactive.

10. Memory lapses.

11. Weight gain or loss.

12. Lying.

You can also do a home drug screening test of your son's urine. The test can detect drugs in the system in about 5 or 10 minutes. Your local drugstore should have a multi-drug test that screens for commonly used drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamines, and amphetamines.

If it turns out that your sons has used drugs, then seek help as soon as possible. Call your local hospital for referral for a drug treatment counselor.