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Signs of Drug Use

ADDICTAdolescence is a period where young people undergo physical and behavioral changes that can be profound and alarming - to them as well as to their parents. Many of the following symptoms may indicate the presence of diseases or factors other than drug use and should be investigated by a trusted and competent physician.

The following should be causes for concern:

  • Abrupt changes in work or school attendance, quality of schoolwork or grades and/or discipline problems.
  • Unusual outbursts or displays of temper.
  • A shirking of responsibility.
  • Unexplained changes in overall attitude, including depression, withdrawal or apathy.
  • Deterioration or sudden change of physical appearance or grooming habits.
  • Sudden secretiveness or inappropriate concerns for privacy; poorly concealed attempts to avoid attention and suspicion, such as frequent trips to the restroom or basement may be an attempt to conceal drug use.
  • Wearing sunglasses, or frequent use of eye drops, to conceal the appearance of the eyes.
  • Association with known drug users or "problem" students.
  • Unusual borrowing of money from friends, siblings, or parents.
  • Stealing - either at home or through shoplifting.
  • Possessing unexplained valuables.
  • Drug paraphernalia.

But also be aware that kids are more sophisticated these days. They, too, know the above warning signs, and they will go out of their way to maintain good grades and an appearance of sobriety. The only way to know with certainty is by drug testing.

4 Stages of Abuse

SHAMEDrug abuse involves 4 stages:

  • The first stage is experimentation. A person tries drugs for the first time, usually at a party or on a date.
  • The second stage is occasional use. The drug is available from another person or openly offered at a party.
  • The third stage involves regular use. The person finds he may like drugs and goes and purchases the drugs for himself.
  • The fourth stage is habitual use. The person needs drugs. Drug hunger and craving control the user's life, and he will do anything to obtain drugs.

The first, second, and possibly the third stage can be confronted within the family. The family needs to be very proactive in addressing the problem and discouraging any further drug use. Our Program is designed to be an important tool for families to implement their anti-drug policy in the privacy of their own home. If parents educate, define clear consequences of drug use, and implement home drug testing, they will be using powerful tools in shaping their kids lives, and keeping them on the right path.

The fourth stage of drug abuse needs not only family understanding and recognition, but most likely requires professional help. Once identified through visible clues and signs, and verified by drug testing, parents must intervene and seek professional help immediately.

Intervention gets results. Hunterdon Central High School in New Jersey was faced with a drug problem that had come to the attention of the parents, administration and school board. 80% of the senior class stated that they had used drugs within the past 12 months. A major anti-drug program was initiated that made clear to students that they would be tested for drugs. Drug use declined dramatically, with less than 5 percent of the students testing positive.

John P. Walter, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, commenting on the Pride Survey Finding, said, "If our schools and parents were to utilize recognized, successful intervention techniques, including drug testing, we would be able to identify these youth and get them the counseling and treatment they need to turn away from drug use."