Wellness & Education

Questions to Ask if you Suspect Your Child is Using Drugs

If you think your son or daughter might be taking drugs, it’s important to know what questions to ask yourself. Here are some suggestions:

Has there been a change in who your child is spending time with? Has his or her group of friends changed, with old friends suddenly “out” and new friends, especially unfamiliar ones, “in”? Is your child suddenly “dropping out” of family activities and outings?

Have your regular curfew rules suddenly become a source of extraordinary conflict?

Has your child begun to react violently or with extreme emotional outbursts that are out of proportion to the situation and inconsistent with their previously normal behavior?

Have you noticed slurred speech or other forms of deterioration in verbal communication?

Have your child’s grades suddenly fallen? Has your child begun missing school or skipping classes a lot?

Does your child seem apathetic (not caring) about things he or she used to care about?

Has your child begun stealing money or valuable items?

Has your child begun to neglect his or her appearance and/or personal hygiene?

Has your child become manipulative, sneaky or dishonest?

Are your child’s eyes blood shot? Are the pupils either dilated or pinpoints?

Have you noticed recent weight loss or weight gains?

Is your child wearing long sleeves even in warm weather?

Has your child acquired drug paraphernalia such as needles, smoking pipes, bongs, etc?

If you ask yourself these questions, and the answers concern you, contact your pediatrician or mental health care provider. Drug addiction is a complex issue. Finding solutions requires the expertise of professionals.

This article is adapted from “Early Detection of Drug Use in Teenagers” by Shahid Ali, MD, Charles P. Mouton, MD, Shagufta Jabeen, MD, Ejike Kingsley Ofoemezie, MD, Rhan K. Bailey, MD, Madiha Shahid, MS, and Qiang Zeng, MD,

Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience  2011 Dec; 8(12): 24–28.