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This information is extracted from the APFDFY's STAY SAFE site with the permission of Herschel Mills Baker, the President.


Drug abuse poses a threat to all families and no child is immune from the drug epidemic. Three of the most dangerous words a parent can hastily utter in response to the drug problem are "Not my kid". It is essential that as a parent you keep a watchful eye out to detect such use should it occur. If you find alcohol, drugs or drug paraphenalia in your child's possession, there is a strong possibility that he or she is using drugs.

The list indicates behaviours that warn you your child may be using drugs. While these symptoms may indicate drug use, they may also simply be signs of normal adolescent growing pains. A single symptom may not indicate an alcohol or drug problem, but a combination of two or more symptoms is definitely a warning to you as a parent.

A DROP IN GRADES - this could be a slow decrease in the past six months to a year, or a sudden decrease.

SWITCHING FRIENDS - are you seeing a different set of friends around the house? more friends to whom you object? friends you're not meeting?

EMOTIONAL HIGHS AND LOWS - easily upset, emotional state changes rapidly, don't seem as happy as they used to be

DEFIANCE OF RULES AND REGULATIONS - pushing limits around the house, not doing home chores

BECOMING MORE SECRETIVE - sharing few if any of their personal problems

LOSS OF INITIATIVE - less apparent energy, sleeping more than usual

WITHDRAWING FROM FAMILY FUNCTIONS - begging off camping trips, church attendance, meals

CHANGE IN PHYSICAL HYGIENE - becoming more sloppy, wearing same clothes too long

NOT INFORMING YOU OF SCHOOL ACTIVITIES - of open houses, times to meet teachers, suspensions, warnings

STAYING OUT LATE - not coming home on time, or at all, with constant excuses for behaviour

ISOLATING THEMSELVES - spending a lot of time in their rooms

MONEY OR ALCOHOL MISSING - from parents and other family members

SELLING POSSESSIONS - clothing, records, gifts missing, seem to have money but no apparent source of income

FEELING MANIPULATED AND BARGAINED WITH - playing parents against each other

ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR - verbally or physically abusive to family

WEIGHT CHANGES - drastic loss or gain

SHORT-TEMPERED - becoming angry often, short fuse or temper

LEGAL PROBLEMS - driving while intoxicated, violating curfews, being at parties that get broken up by police

DEFENSIVE - when confronted on behaviour or other concerns

CALLS FROM SCHOOL - reports of skipping classes, sleeping in class, poor work performance, not doing homework

COMING HOME DRUNK OR HIGH - smelling of pot or alcohol, unusually giddy, slurred speech

FINDING PARAPHERNALIA - papers, pipes, clips, drugs, bottles