How to Know if Your Teen is Doing Drugs

Feb 1, 2021 | Addiction, Adolescent Treatment, Drug Usage Archives, Substance Abuse

Drugs are often easily accessible to teens. While most teenagers don’t use drugs, some teenagers become heavily involved in drug usage. To help you determine if your teenager is using drugs, we have listed some obvious and not-so-obvious signs of drug use in teenagers.

Obvious Signs of Drug Abuse in Teens

Stash of drugs: Obviously if someone is using drugs, they are keeping them somewhere. Under the bed, in the closet, hidden in clothes, or even in the loose part of the ceiling. A thorough search can give away their stash of drugs.

Drug paraphernalia: A lot of drugs need articles that are accessories to using drugs like wrapping papers for cigarettes, vapes, bongs for marijuana, syringes for heroin, burnt spoons, razors, or other cutting materials like glass. If you see paraphernalia it is an obvious sign of drug usage.

Bloodshot or glassy eyes: Someone who is using drugs can never hide their red eyes and dilated pupils.

Unexplained Bruises: Drugs can cause bruises over the body, arms, and legs. Drug users may bruise themselves during the process of taking drugs or as a result of their actions while high on drugs.

Injection marks: Drug abusers who are using them through syringes will always have injection marks on their bodies. Those marks can usually be found on the arms and feet.

Lack of interest: If someone is taking drugs, the biggest sign can be a lack of interest and apathy toward the things they used to love doing. The desire to use drugs begins to replace their interest in people, places, and things that don’t involve drugs

Mood swings: Drugs can elevate the user’s mood and can make them lazy and lethargic. The response depends upon the type of drug they are using. Drugs can alter your state of mind. Sudden mood swings are one sign that they are using drugs.

Changes in physical appearance: Drugs not only affect the user’s state of mind but can also alter their whole personality. They may start changing the way they dress or the type of clothing that they wear.

Sudden changes in appetite: Depending on the type of substances a person is using; it can affect their appetite in both ways. They may have an increase in appetite or a decreased appetite.

Weight changes: As the eating habits change, the weight of the teen will also be affected. Depending upon the type of substance they can have a sudden reduction in weight, or they may gain weight in a short period.

Not So Obvious Signs of Drug Abuse in Teenagers

Listed below are some of the more subtle signs that your teenager may be using drugs.

Changes at school

  • Low Grades: The first thing that often gets affected in a teenager’s life is his performance at school. The more drugs they use, the less they tend to care about school.
  • Increased Misbehavior: Increased number of fights or misbehavior can be a big sign that something odd is going on with your kid. Drugs can cause elevated mood swings and erratic behavior, which can increase impulsiveness.
  • ?Changes in friends: A sudden change in friendships can also indicate that something is changing for your teen. Teenagers who are doing drugs like to hang out with other drug users. Over time, they tend to drop those friends who aren’t using substances. It’s no fun to hang out with someone who isn’t getting high.
  • Missed school days: Another sign of drug use is an increase in absences from school.

Changes at home

  • Secretive behavior: If your child is being secretive about his activities or possessions, it is a big sign that your teen is doing something they don’t want you to know about. The less you know, the more they can get away with using drugs or alcohol.
  • Unexplained expenses: If you detect that they are spending too much on things you don’t know, it’s time to find out. You may need to keep an eye on your wallet as stealing is easier than asking for money.
  • Breaking curfew: Sneaking out of the house or spending too much time away from the family is always a worrisome sign. Teens that are using drugs often try to be away from their families as much as possible.
  • Lying about whereabouts: Not wanting you to know where they are going or lying about it is a sign that they are hiding something. Teenagers lie so that they can protect their access to future use.
  • Poor hygiene: As drugs affect a user’s attention towards everyday things, it also can affect their hygiene.
  • Erratic behavior: Drugs can make you moody. Sudden outbursts or excessive anger can be a sign that your teenager is using drugs.
  • Missing medications: If you begin to notice that you are missing medications, it could indicate that your teen is taking them.
  • Smell-hiding materials: Teens who are experimenting with drugs will be conscious of the smell of weed. Excessive use of mint sprays or chewing gum can indicate that they are trying to hide their usage.
  • Keep an eye on the eye. Lack of eye contact is also an important sign of potential drug use. Teens that are abusing drugs don’t want you to notice any signs in their eyes that may indicate that they are high. Keep an eye out for Visine. It could be an indicator of drug use.

How to Know for Sure?

Trust your instincts as a parent. If you think something is wrong, then you are probably right. Don’t be afraid to investigate or follow your hunches. You can also have your teen take a drug screen to confirm your suspicions. Remember, you are more likely to get an accurate picture of their usage if they don’t know the drug screen is coming.

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit to learn more.