API Global is concerned about the epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse in the community. We have provided some information below for you to read and think about if you have similar concerns regarding the abuse of drugs or alcohol in your household.
Please take the time to read through and as you find the need please contact us 24/7 for further conversation and action.
5 Ways to Find Out if Your Child is Using Drugs or Alcohol
Think your teen has been using drugs or drinking? Here are 5 ways to find out if your hunch is right. And remember: Even if you can’t find evidence, it’s important for parents to always trust your gut — and take action by talking with your child and seeking help if necessary.
- Use Your Nose. Have a real, face-to-face conversation your teenager comes home from a night out with friends, If your child has been drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or smoking marijuana, the smell will be on his breath, his clothing and his hair.
- Take a Closer Look. When your teenager gets back from going out with her friends, take a close look. Pay attention to her eyes (her eyes will be red and heavy lidded, with constricted pupils if she’s been smoking marijuana); her pupils will be dilated, and she may have difficulty focusing on you, if she’s been drinking. In addition, if she has red, flushed color to the face and cheeks she may have been drinking.
- Watch for Mood Changes. How is your teen acting after a night out with friends? Is he loud and obnoxious, or laughing hysterically at nothing? Is he unusually clumsy to the point where he’s stumbling into furniture and walls, tripping over his own feet and knocking things over? Is he sullen, withdrawn, and unusually tired and slack-eyed for the hour of night? Does he look queasy and stumble into the bathroom? These are all signs that he could have just been using some kind of illegal substance: alcohol, marijuana, or something else.
- Monitor Driving and the Car. If you suspect your teenager has been using illicit substances recently, see if the car has any clues to offer. Is her driving is more reckless when she’s coming home after being with her friends? Is there a new dent in the front of the car and she claims she knows nothing about it. If you’re suspicious, examine the inside of the car too; Does it smell like marijuana smoke or alcohol fumes? Are there any bottles, pipes, bongs, or other drug paraphernalia rolling around on the floor or hidden in the glove box? If you find anything, challenge her on it immediately: be forthright, and tell her exactly what you’ve discovered and why you’re concerned.
- Keep an eye out for deceit or secretiveness. Are her weekend plans starting to sound a little fishy? Is she being vague about where she’s going? Can she describe the movie she supposedly just saw? She says that parents will be at the parties she’s going to but can’t give you a phone number, and comes home acting intoxicated. She gets in way past her curfew or estimated time, and she’s got a seemingly endless string of excuses to justify her behavior. When excuses fail, she’ll respond to your inquiries and concern by telling you that it’s none of your business. Something is wrong, and you need to figure out what she’s really up to.
Is Your Teen Using? Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse
There’s no easy way to figure out if your teen is using drugs or alcohol. As you’ll see, many of the signs and symptoms of teen substance abuse listed below are also, at times, typical adolescent behavior. Many are also symptoms of mental health issues, including depression or anxiety disorders.
If you’ve noticed any of the changes related to substance abuse listed below, don’t be afraid to come right out and ask your teen direct questions like “Have you been offered drugs?” If yes, “What did you do?” or “Have you been drinking or using drugs?” While no parent wants to hear a “yes” response to these questions, be prepared for it. Decide, in advance, how you’ll respond to a “yes”. Make sure you reassure your child that you’re looking out for him or her, and that you only want the best for his or her future.
Of course, not all teens are going to fess up to drug or alcohol use, and a “no” could also mean your child is in need of help for mental health issues. That’s why experts strongly recommend that you consider getting a professional assessment of your child with a pediatrician or child psychologist to find out what’s going on. In the case of teen substance abuse, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution. Teaming up with professionals to help your teen is the best way to make sure he or she has a healthy future.
- Messy, shows lack of caring for appearance
- Poor hygiene
- Red, flushed cheeks or face
- Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)
- Burns or soot on fingers or lips (from “joints” or “roaches” burning down)
Personal Habits or Actions
- Clenching teeth
- Smell of smoke or other unusual smells on breath or on clothes
- Chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
- Heavy use of over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening, nasal irritation, or bad breath
- Frequently breaks curfew
- Cash flow problems
- Reckless driving, car accidents, or unexplained dents in the car
- Avoiding eye contact
- Locked doors
- Going out every night
- Secretive phone calls
- “Munchies” or sudden appetite
Behavioral Issues Associated with Teen Substance Abuse
- Change in relationships with family members or friends
- Loss of inhibitions
- Mood changes or emotional instability
- Loud, obnoxious behavior
- Laughing at nothing
- Unusually clumsy, stumbling, lack of coordination, poor balance
- Sullen, withdrawn, depressed
- Unusually tired
- Silent, uncommunicative
- Hostility, anger, uncooperative behavior
- Deceitful or secretive
- Makes endless excuses
- Decreased Motivation
- Lethargic movement
- Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred speech, or rapid-fire speech
- Inability to focus
- Unusually elated
- Periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep
- Disappearances for long periods of time
School or Work Related Issues
- Truancy or loss of interest in schoolwork
- Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, or sports
- Failure to fulfill responsibilities at school or work
- Complaints from teachers or co-workers
- Reports of intoxication at school or work
Health Issues Related to Teen Substance Abuse
- Runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
- Frequent sickness
- Sores, spots around mouth
- Queasy, nauseous
- Wetting lips or excessive thirst (known as “cotton mouth”)
- Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
- Skin abrasions/bruises
- Accidents or injuries
Home or Car Related
- Disappearance of prescription or over-the-counter pills
- Missing alcohol or cigarettes
- Disappearance of money or valuables
- Smell in the car or bottles, pipes, or bongs on floor or in glove box
- Appearance of unusual containers or wrappers, or seeds left on surfaces used to clean marijuana, like Frisbees,
- Appearance of unusual drug apparatuses, including pipes, rolling papers, small medicine bottles, eye drops, butane lighters, or makeshift smoking devices, like bongs made out of toilet paper rolls and aluminum foil
- Hidden stashes of alcohol
If Your Child is Using: How to Step In and Help
Intervention is not always a formal process involving drug counselors and group confrontation. Substance abuse treatment can actually start right at the kitchen table with a conversation. Here are 10 steps you can take right now if your child is using drugs:
- Discuss — and agree to — a plan of action for your child’s substance abuse treatment with your spouse or his other parent or guardian. Answer screener questions to find out the extent of the problem.
- Pick a time to talk to your child when he or she is not high or drunk, or extremely upset or angry.
- Make it clear that you love your child, and that by bringing up substance abuse treatment you are showing your concern for his safety and well-being.
- Point out to your child that, as parents, it is your job to make sure he or she reaches adulthood as safely as possible.
- Spell out the warning signs of alcohol and drug use that you’ve observed in your child’s behavior. Use the screener results to explain that the problem warrants serious attention and family support, as well as professional help, because without substance abuse treatment it can get out of control and can even be fatal. You may want to detail the negative effects of the person’s substance use on you and your family but it’s important to remain neutral and non-judgmental in tone. To sum up the warning signs at this step, you should state that the pursuit of substance use despite adverse effects on yourself or others is actually the definition of “drug addiction.” Don’t press the child to agree on this assessment of the problem.
- Actively listen to anything and everything your child has to say in response. The listening step is crucial, to establish empathy and to convey that you really see and hear your child. If he or she brings up related problems, they should be listened to with a promise of being addressed separately. Reiterate that what you are addressing at the moment is substance abuse, which is serious and can be at the core of other problems.
- Then, to empower your child and get him to think about his substance use in a new way, ask him questions about what he wants out of his life and how things are going with school, his friends, his parents, siblings, job, activities, etc.
- Prompt your child to consider the link between substance use and where her life is not matching up to her dreams and wishes.
- Ask the child — in light of what he or she is concluding in this conversation about the substance abuse effect on his or her life — to reassess the problem. Set a goal for getting well. Together, plan out some concrete steps to find information about addiction, recovery and resources, and identify any necessary professional substance abuse treatment.
- Understand that the conversation you just had is actually a successful “intervention,” a first concrete step toward interrupting the progression of the problem and getting well. It is a good idea to reiterate again your love and caring concern for your child. Acknowledge yourselves, knowing that you need and deserve strong encouragement and support, and have the power to solve this problem together.
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API Global provides solutions to help you maintain a drug fee community.