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How can I tell if my 16-year-old son is abusing drugs?

Do you think your child or adolescent may be using street drugs or abusing prescription medications like painkillers? Many moms & dads are faced with the difficult question of "Is my adolescent using drugs?" Read on to find out how to tell if your adolescent is using illicit drugs.

Things You’ll Need:

• A Drug Sniffer Dog for Hire
• A Home Drug Test
• A Notebook
• An Adolescent Who You Suspect May Be Using Drugs
• An Internet Connection
• An Observant Eye

• ADMINISTER A HOME DRUG TEST: Home drug tests are now available over-the-counter at most major drug store chains. Moms & dads can give their adolescent a drug test for marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine, cocaine and an array of other illicit drugs.

• DOES YOUR ADOLESCENT ACT DIFFERENTLY? Drug users experience high highs and low lows. Is your adolescent giddy, talkative and energetic one minute and sleeping excessively the following day? Is your adolescent edgier and moodier than usual? Also very common in drug users. Again, write down your observations in a notebook - it's often a lot clearer on paper.

• DOES YOUR ADOLESCENT LOOK DIFFERENT? Drug users will rapidly gain or lose weight. They will stop showering as frequently and you'll see a drop off in meticulous grooming that's common of adolescents. Pay attention to the adolescent's eyes. Are they bloodshot? Are the pupils dilated? Are the pupils tiny? These are all signs of drug use.

• DOES YOUR ADOLESCENT SEEM SICK VERY FREQUENTLY? Drug withdrawal can be easily mistaken for a stomach flu or virus, so if your adolescent seems to vomit frequently or gets the "flu" on a regular basis, this suggests drug use. Does your adolescent sniffle frequently? Is he reluctant to blow his nose? The sniffles or a stuffy nose are commonly associated with drugs like heroin, cocaine and other drugs that are snorted. When a drug user snorts drugs, this causes nasal inflammation that causes sniffling. Many drug users also sniffle frequently after they snort drugs, but they'll be hesitant to blow their nose, lest they blow out the powder that they've sniffed.

• HIRE A SNIFFER DOG TO SEARCH FOR DRUGS: Moms & dads can now hire a drug detection dog service to perform a search of the home and car. This can provide moms & dads with the confirmation they need before they confront a adolescent about drug use. A drug sniffer dog can also ease fears of adolescent drug use. These drug detection dogs can detect minute amounts of residue and they are known to be very accurate.

• IS YOUR ADOLESCENT STEALING MONEY OR VALUABLES? When recreational drug use turns into a full blown drug habit, a adolescent will need money and lots of it to support his or her drug habit. Is the adolescent suddenly focused on earning money that does not seem to go toward any obvious purchases (i.e. clothing)? Is the adolescent stealing money from family members? Are valuables disappearing from the home? These are all signs that can suggest that a adolescent is seeking money to support a drug habit.

• LEARN ABOUT DRUG PARAPHERNALIA AND BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR IT IN YOUR ADOLESCENT'S ROOM: Did you know that a light bulb can be used as drug paraphernalia? Drug paraphernalia can be obvious - like a pipe - or less obvious, like a light bulb. Surf the internet and learn about what household items can be associated with drug use.

• LOOK FOR BEHAVIORS THAT INDICATE DRUG USE: There are many behaviors that indicate drug use. Does your adolescent always wear long sleeves, even when it's hot outside? He may be hiding needle marks on his arms. Does your adolescent try to avoid making eye contact after returning home from friends? This may be due to bloodshot eyes, or dilated/pinpoint pupils that result from using certain drugs. Is your adolescent sneaky and deceptive? Sneaky, deceptive behaviors are very common in adolescents who are using drugs. Look at your adolescent's behavior with a critical eye and keep a notebook recording your observations.

Tips & Warnings—

• Home drug tests (and even professional physician-administered drug tests) are not fool proof. False positives and false negatives can occur. If a adolescent tests positive for a drug, proceed to the nearest hospital or doctor's office for a more reliable drug test. But do it quickly, as some drugs leave the system within a matter of a day or two.

• Surf the internet and learn about the effects of various drugs. If a parent understands how a particular drug affects the body, the parent will be more likely to recognize signs of drug use.

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