Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

Search This Site

Questionnaire To Help Decide If Your Teen Is Using Drugs

While it's natural for adolescents to be somewhat rebellious and have a social life that consists of questionable peers, music, romance and parties, they can also be guarded and mysterious, especially with their moms and dads. Sometimes it takes a little detective work to find out if your adolescent is using drugs.

Nearly half of all adolescents will try drugs before they turn 18. Some use marijuana and/or alcohol regularly. A relatively small amount of adolescents are addicted to drugs, but that number is growing.

Use the questionnaire below to help decide if your teenage son or daughter is using drugs or alcohol:

1. Are there drastic changes in your teen’s appearance?  This is one of the first cries for attention if that is what she is seeking.

2. Does your teen have altered eating and/or sleeping habits (e.g., poor appetite and insomnia)? Sudden desires for sweets as well as weight loss indicate addictive swings typical of drug use.

3. Does your teen make a number of excuses for why he comes home late?

4. Does your teen refuse to talk to you, other than using simple one word replies (e.g., “yes,” “no,” “I don’t know,” etc.)? And have you notice her exhibiting slurred speech?

5. Does your teen smell funny? If he is drinking or doing drugs, you may be able to smell it on his clothes or breath. If he smells like he just sprayed on perfume or cologne, he may be trying to cover up the scent.

6. Has your teen been missing classes? Note any calls from school authorities with complaints about her attendance and/or behavior.

7. Has your teen lost interest in sports or hobbies he once enjoyed? Take seriously any mysterious rejection of interests that were once important to your teenager. Watch if he loses interest in his usual activities. He might abandon his previous hobbies, or take up new ones.

8. Has your teen started carrying eye drops, or is she wearing sunglasses a lot (to hide dilated pupils or red eyes caused by marijuana)?

9. Has your teen started staying away from home more than ever before? If so, ask where she is going and who's going to be with her.

10. Has your teen’s attitude changed for the worse? She might become excessively rude and more rebellious than usual, and she might refuse to do any chores unless paid.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

11. Has your teen’s behavior changed for the worse? Look for behavioral changes (e.g., excessive sleepiness, lack of sleep, bouts of nausea and/or throwing up in the toilet, an air of indifference, quick anger, irritability, unresponsiveness or spaciness, etc.).

12. Has your teen’s mood changed for the worse? She may be grouchy and may mope around in a lazy fashion most of the time.

13. Have there been occasions when money or valuables are missing around the house?

14. Have you found drug paraphernalia in your teen’s room? If you suspect drug use by your adolescent, this is one of those times that you need to be the mother or father who checks her personal area.

15. If your teen has his driving license and his own car, does his car smell funny?

16. Is there a change in your teen’s hygiene and/or appearance? Look for indications that your son or daughter may have begun taking drugs and spending time with a "drug" crowd (e.g., glassy eyes, new piercings, tattoos, sloppy clothing, general lack of hygiene, etc.).

17. Is your adolescent avoiding having you meet his new friends?

18. Is your teen always asking for money? He might be spending his money on drugs. If he asks for money, ask him what he needs it for.

19. Is your teen hanging out with a different crowd? Her friends may be more rebellious than usual, and/or she might bring home new friends, or neglect her old ones. Is she ignoring her usual friends in favor of a new group who dress different or seem to have lesser morals?

20. Is your teen starting to have falling grades? Adolescents who use drugs sometimes are less likely to value academic performance, so this is a telltale sign. Stay in touch with teachers if a change is apparent. Search for drastic drops, not just little dips. This could be due to anything.

If your adolescent is displaying some of these signs, it does not necessarily mean he or she is taking drugs. It could just be a new phase or an attempt to keep up with the "cool" crowd. Talk to your teen, and get professional help if necessary.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

How to Stop "Back-Talk" in Disagreeable Teens

“Initially, my husband and I were concerned that our son, Robby, who is 13, did not fit the ‘profile’ of an out-of-control teen. We were motivated to seek outside help and guidance due to the negative attitude we felt we were experiencing with him. This was primarily a ‘talking back’ issue where Robby would continually talk back to us, mutter under his breath, and be purposely rude and disagreeable. Additionally we saw problems of him thinking that he was smarter than everyone else. Any tips for dealing with back talk?”

With a little understanding and self-restraint, moms and dads can put a lid on talking back. The reasons for back talk are as varied as the personalities of the kids who use it. The youngster could be hungry, tired, or in a transitional period. But kids who talk back usually do have one thing in common: They're trying to separate from their parents and exercise control over their lives.

Behavior Tracking—

Moms and dads need to do some behavior tracking: For 3 days, make notes about what your son says, what the situation was, and how you responded. See if you notice any patterns. And keep in mind that when young people talk back, something else is going on underneath. The goal is to help them express it constructively.

You won't ever be able to avoid disagreements with your son, but you can learn how to fight fair:
  1. Define what the problem is
  2. Define how to rectify it 
  3. Don't attack, belittle, or condemn (unless you want some back talk)
  4. Figure out what can be done to prevent it in the future

13-year-olds are notorious for putting moms and dads on the defensive (after all, they are officially a teenager at that point, with an attitude to match). For example, say your son borrowed a ring that had sentimental value, and then he lost it. You might yell, "How could you be so damn irresponsible!" Look out though – he will most likely turn your reaction around on you (e.g., "Oh, so you've never lost anything before? Excuse me for not being perfect!").

Instead of attacking, try talking in concrete terms, such as, "When you _____ (insert the behavior he exhibited), I felt _____ (insert how you felt about his behavior)." 

As strange as it may seem, be sure to use the same restraint and respect you would show a guest in your home. The goal is for you to express your feelings ABOUT his behavior rather than accusing him of “misbehaving.” This lessens the likelihood that he will feel attacked, which in turn lessens the likelihood that you will be on the receiving end of back talk.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

How To Talk Your Way Through Parent-Child Conflict

Conflict between you and your adolescent shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is the age where she will begin embracing independent thinking. Parent-child conflict isn’t necessarily symptomatic of an unhealthy or unhappy household (unless arguing becomes the standard mode of communication).

Family members need to feel free to express their feelings honestly, including airing grievances rather than to repress them. That’s how issues get resolved before small disagreements snowball into more serious problems. However, in order for confrontations to ultimately be productive, everyone needs to observe certain ground rules. As moms and dads, it falls to us to model the behaviors and attitudes conducive to healthy conflict-resolution.

Below are 12 tips for talking your way through parent-child conflict:

1. Don't step on your teen’s tongue. It's tempting to dive-in and over-react to something your adolescent just said. Let your teen have the first word! Listen without interrupting. When she has expressed her viewpoint, then - and only then - should you respond. Take the high road here. Always let your adolescent speak first. Teenagers we surveyed said that if they have a chance to talk first, they're more receptive to what their mom or dad says. Once adolescents get to speak their minds, they're usu¬ally willing to listen to “reason.”

2. Control the things you can, and don’t try to control the things you can’t. For example, let's say your adolescent is “back-talking” you. You might be tempted to say, "You will NOT speak to me like that!" Unfortunately, this come-back throws gas on the fire, because a state¬ment like this challenges your teen to prove she – not you – controls her tongue. A better option would be to say something like, "I'll be glad to listen to you when you speak to me more politely." Now you're saying what you will do, which is something you can control.

3. If you do issue a complaint, be very specific (e.g., “Michael, you forgot to give me 3 phone messages last week – one from my boss, one from your father, and one from grandma” …rather than, “You always forget to take messages”).

4. Briefly explain your reasoning. Some adolescents say they simply don't understand what their moms and dads are asking them to do. Explain the reasons for your request or rule, and then have your adolescent restate what you've told her (e.g., "I know you want to go with your friends to the movies tonight. But you were out late last night and could hardly get up in time to catch the school bus. I don’t have time to play taxicab driver when you miss the bus. You’re free to be with your friends over the weekend, but not tonight").

5. Only deal with the current issue. Don't dredge up past failures or mistakes. Also, don't compare your adolescent with anyone — living or dead, related or unrelated.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

6. Avoid the words "always" and "never" (e.g., “You always get angry whenever you have to hear the word ‘no’ ” …or “You never follow through with what I ask you to do”).

7. Ask your teenager to offer his solution to the problem. Your ultimate goal should be to resolve the conflict – not win the argument. If your teen’s solution sounds workable, then give it a shot. If his solution sounds ridiculous, then fine tune his idea a bit so that it can be more workable.

8. Ask yourself, “Is this issue really worth arguing about? How important is this situation, anyway?” Maybe it’s possible to work toward a win-win solution, or at least one that everyone can live with. Choose your battles carefully. Stand up for the values that are most important to you and to your adolescent's safety, but consider flexibility on the smaller issues.

9. Get off to a good start. The first 3 minutes of a confrontation usually dictate how the rest of it will go. Begin the conversation with a soft voice, and you’ll increase the odds that the discussion will be productive. As one adolescent stated, “My dad and I could talk about our problems because he treated as an equal instead of talking down to me.”

10. Take a time-out when needed. If you or your adolescent are getting too pumped-up, take a break. It doesn't hurt to put a confrontation on hold until everyone has calmed down.

11. Model what you want your adolescent to do. When moms and dads scream or point fingers, teenagers figure that it's okay for them to do the same. They also put up a stone wall and get into "fight" mode.

12. Consider sending an email or a text message rather than face-to-face confrontation. Emailing or texting gives you time to sort through your thoughts and express yourself wisely. Also, it gives your adolescent time to respond instead of reacting defensively. That's what a father discovered when his 16-year-old daughter wanted to see an R-rated movie. He kept telling her ‘no’ – and the two of them kept arguing. Finally, the father sent his daughter an email explaining his reason for saying ‘no’. The daughter never asked about it again, and even seemed warmer toward him than she had been for a long time.

There are many important misunderstandings that occur both with the parent and with the teenager that, if recognized, would not only reduce conflict, but strengthen the relationship. While conflict between parents and their teenagers is not of itself a bad thing, the manner in which we choose to resolve these conflicts is what ultimately determines the outcome – and stress – each encounters.


==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

Join Our Facebook Support Group

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Online Parenting Coach - Syndicated Content