Has a problem, Is experimenting, Needs a service
Identifying signs that drugs might be a problem
Understanding the signs will help you be observant and pay attention to a young person’s welfare.
THE USE OF DRUGS OR ALCOHOL TENDS TO BE CONSIDERED A PROBLEM WHEN:
- It has frequent negative impacts on a young person’s health and wellbeing.
- A young person has less control over their substance use than they desire.
- Substance use gets in the way of important activities such as school, work and family life.
SO WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SPECIFIC EARLY SIGNS THAT MAY INDICATE PROBLEMS ARE DEVELOPING?
The following is not a checklist but is a list of some situations that may indicate a problem is developing.
- Changes in appetite or significant weight loss/gain
- Sudden or frequent changes in mood
- Fluctuating energy levels. Hyperactivity/agitation or lethargy and low mood.
- Unusual smells on the young person or in the house. Many drugs have distinctive smells (especially if smoked)
- Extensive efforts by a young person to cover up smells such as strong perfume etc.
- Signs of intoxication-slurred speech, unstable on their feet
- Changes in school performance
- Not turning up to school
- Changes in friendships, seeing less of friends they used to
- Financial problems or a need for money
- Loss of interest in hobbies
Be aware that with every single one of these situations there are also other reasons, apart from the emergence of a drug problem, that could explain why these are occurring. Mental health concerns, relationship difficulties or even the normal ups and down of growing up may account for some of these.
So understanding these signs will help you be observant and pay attention to a young person’s welfare but they won’t diagnose a problem. Open and supportive communication remains the most important ingredients in finding out what is going on for your loved one.
It can be confronting to learn that someone you care about is using drugs, take a look at our video that provides info on the best way to support them during this time.