Adolescence can be a tough time for parents. Your child is changing a lot and you may not feel as close to them as you used to. You might be worried that they’re using drugs. This is a tricky situation, because drugs can affect people differently making it really hard to tell for sure that someone is using them. Some of the behaviours that might concern you (mood swings, desire for privacy, less involvement with the family) are also pretty typical for teenagers.
Media and pop culture can make it seem like most young people are using alcohol and drugs, but in reality this just isn’t the case. But the (incorrect) perception that everyone else is doing it can make substance use seem normal to a young person, so consider talking to your child about how it isn’t true. Even the young people who do experiment with alcohol and drugs at some point are unlikely to become dependent on them – most people who use these substances aren’t addicted.
Drug addiction is more common among people who are very unhappy and finding it hard to cope.
Whether or not drugs are involved, when a child isn’t acting like themselves they could need your attention and help. Drug use, especially severe drug use, can be accompanied by the following:
If you’re really worried about your child, talk to their teachers at school and ask how they’ve been doing. Decreasing academic performance, behaviour issues, absences and other problems would signify your child is experiencing difficulties which need attention. Their teachers might also have some insight into their social life at school, who they spend their time with and whether that is a concern.