Your child's behaviour at home will most likely be affected if he or
she is drinking alcohol or taking other drugs. The following are some questions
to ask yourself if you suspect substance use in your teen:
Has your child recently developed a negative
attitude and become less motivated toward activities such as sports or hobbies?
Has he or she talked about suicide or running away?
Does your child
argue with you much more than usual? Is he or she more aggressive, more
depressed, or prone to sudden mood changes?
Have you noticed a
change in the way your child dresses? Is he or she poorly groomed?
Does your child avoid adults? Has he or she had encounters with the
Have you caught your child lying or stealing? Does he or she
seem to have extra money that you cannot account for?
child participate in fewer family activities?
Does your child seem to
be more sensitive about his or her privacy?
Is your child away from
home more than usual? Does your teen seem to use home as a stop-off
When you ask your child where he or she has been, do you get
a vague answer?
Many of the behaviours listed above are normal for youth. So it is helpful to look for changes in patterns of behaviour along with any direct evidence of substance use. For example, a change in pattern might be that your child's loss of interest in school and activities seems continuous instead of just on Monday mornings. And you might notice that your child smells of alcohol or is now using eyedrops often.
If your child has tried
drugs or alcohol only a few times, then talking openly with him or her about this may be all that you need to do. But if your teen
has a substance use problem, then he or she needs to be seen by a doctor, a counsellor, or both.
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ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerPatrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerChristine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health