Return to Substance Abuse Prevention

How Do I Know If My Child Has A Problem?

Signs & Symptoms of Problem Drug Abuse



  • An atypical decline in grades during the past year
  • A rapid, recent decline in grades
  • Failure to inform parents of school events, including requests for parents to meet with teachers, etc.
  • Loss of interest in school activities, including dropping out of extracurricular activities, athletics, clubs etc.
  • Contacts from the school recharging truancy, tardiness, dropping classes, vandalism, fighting, theft, or other unacceptable conduct



  • Arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
  • Arrests for drinking/drug use at parties or public places
  • Arrests for possession, delivery, or sale of alcohol or other drugs
  • Curfew violations
  • Other illegal acts which only occur when he/she is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
  • Engaging in other high risk activity with friends



  • Involved in thefts, or suspected of being involved in thefts
  • Family members begin missing money or valuables from the home
  • Frequent borrowing of money from family members or friends
  • Quitting a job and/or job loss due to unsatisfactory job performance
  • Sale of clothes or other possessions
  • Appears to have money despite not having a job



  • Appears to have changed friends
  • Hanging out with friends who are significantly younger or older
  • Rarely bringing new friends home to meet family members
  • New group of friends is talking about getting high or wearing clothes with drug-related themes
  • Secrecy regarding social media with friends



  • Frequent and/or extreme highs and lows
  • General change in mood toward a more depressed and negative outlook
  • Withdrawal from family members
  • Is more secretive, isolates in room, withdraws into music
  • Increasing dishonesty, frequent lying, making excuses
  • Is defensive when asked about personal problems or irresponsibility
  • Is verbally and/or physically abusive
  • Exhibits a loss of energy, initiative, motivation, interest or enthusiasm
  • Frequently stays out late and/or sleeps late in the morning



  • Appears run down and has frequent illness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decline in personal hygiene; bathes infrequently, doesn’t change clothes
  • Drastic weight gain or loss
  • Complexion appears unhealthy
  • Unexplained injuries or bruising
  • Self-inflicted behavior (tattoos, burns, cutting)
  • Irregular sleep patterns



  • Perception that alcohol or other drug use is harmless and “everyone does it”
  • Smell of alcohol on the breath or marijuana on clothing
  • Bloodshot eyes, dilated or constricted pupils
  • Blackouts
  • Presence of drug paraphernalia:
  • Discovery of unidentified pills or powders, alcohol or marijuana in the room, backpack or car
  • Smell of incense or perfume/cologne in room or on clothing to hide odor of cigarettes or marijuana
  • Drug-related themes on clothing, books/notebooks, and social media sites
  • Suspicion of intoxication upon returning home
  • Family liquor supply dwindles, disappears, or gets watered down
  • Medications begin to disappear from the family medicine cabinet



  • Increasing irresponsibility on the family, failure to do chores, carry out normal tasks
  • Repeatedly defies family rules without regard to consequences
  • Avoids or decreases participation in family social gatherings such as holidays, vacation, meals, church etc.
  • Behavior incites or aggravates increasing tension between parents
  • Is verbally or physically abusive to parents or siblings
  • Family members become more fearful of the adolescent
  • Blames problems on parents and/or other family members
  • Avoids contact with family members: goes immediately to room when returning home, is secretive about friends, phone activity or whereabouts
  • Family members become increasingly preoccupied with the adolescent


If you are concerned that your child may be involved with alcohol or other drug use and you would like to discuss it further, please do not hesitate to contact the Student Assistance Program:


Timothy Lena, MSW, CPS                                           Kelley Binette, MSW, MLADC

Timberlane Regional High School                              Timberlane Regional Middle School

(603) 382 – 6541 x 3408                                             (603) 382 – 7131 x 4926                        

Permanent link to this article: