There are huge emotional, physical and sometimes behavioral changes that accompany adolescence. How do parents know the difference between normal adolescent behaviors and signs of alcohol or drug abuse? Here are some common warning signs that there could be a problem: sudden change of friends, withdrawal from family activities, frequent violations of agreed-upon curfews, deteriorating school grades/attendance, deteriorating personal hygiene, disinterest in activities the adolescent cared about, appearance of drug paraphernalia, changes in energy levels and eating and sleeping patterns, sudden weight loss or gain, constant sniffling, picking or scratching at skin, and dilated or pinpoint pupils.
Remember, no one sign means there’s a problem. As a parent, you know your child. You raised him/her with values, beliefs and guidelines, and you know when your child is acting out of character. Trust your instincts. Don’t let pride get in the way of seeing a problem. Your teenager may complain when you ask if something is wrong, but asking is important. It lets your child know you care, and you are there for your child.