Adolescence is a time of life when teenagers seek independence and when they want more than ever to be accepted by their peers. While this is perfectly normal, as parents, we often wonder what types of behaviours we need to question as possible indicators that our child is misusing or abusing drugs.

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A few changes in behaviour, attitudes, and interests to look out for:
1. Change in friends and/or social activities
2. Change in sleep patterns, eating, and possibly hygiene
3. Change in attitude with family members
4. Change in respect for rules - for example: breaks curfew or doesn’t respect consequences
5. Money and/or alcohol and/or prescription medication missing from home
6. Frequent calls from school/work regarding behaviour or unjustified absences
7. Difficulties with the law
8. Continuous lies about who they are with or what they are doing
9. Eye drops in their room or on their person
10. Rolling paper or other unexplained drug paraphernalia
Asking about these changes may cause conflict between you and your child. Adolescents usually minimise the significance of these changes in behaviour or do not take them seriously. The first step is to sit down with your child and calmly discuss these changes. If your adolescent starts to shut down or becomes aggressive when you state your concerns, there may be a problem.
There are many supports in the community that you can turn to for help. Speak with your doctor, a social worker, a counsellor at your child’s school, or contact a drug rehabilitation centre such as Portage for advice on how to manage the situation and get help for your child.
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