How to Know If Your Teen Is Using Drugs or Alcohol

We all worry about our kids. It’s natural. We want to make sure they are on the right path.

Drugs and alcohol are the top concerns for many parents. What if your teen is using them?

It’s something that no parent wants to think about. If you’re reading this article, you might already have your suspicions.

We will discuss some things to look out for to know if your teen is using drugs or alcohol.


Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms are one of the most obvious signs. Take a close look at their eyes after they go out. Are they red and heavy-lidded? Constricted? This might indicate they’ve been using marijuana.

Eyes that are dilated or have difficulty focusing might point to drinking. A red, flushed face is also a common sign of drinking.

Also keep an eye out for other symptoms such as:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Unexplained runny nose or nosebleeds
  • Shakes or tremors
  • Dry mouth (constantly licking lips)


Covering Up Evidence

There are many subtle signs that your teen might be using drugs or alcohol. Some of the most common include:

  • Unexplained track marks/bruises
  • Smells of marijuana/smoke
  • Soot on lips or fingers
  • Empty bottles
  • Missing medications/alcohol
  • Paraphernalia (lighters, syringes, etc.)

As previously mentioned, these signs are subtle. So you should also pay attention to ways your teen might be hiding them. For instance, are they suddenly wearing long sleeves during the summer? They could be hiding track marks. They could be using fragrances to mask the smell of smoke. Stay alert and take note of anything out of the ordinary.

Changed Behavior

Have you noticed a significant change in behavior? Don’t jump to conclusions right away. Teens are naturally moody.

Drugs and alcohol, however, can significantly affect one’s mood. If your teen seems excessively moody, this might be cause for concern. Personality shifts and failing grades can also be indicators.

Be aware of any secretive behavior. Are they lying about where they are going? Do they stay out way past when they said they would be home? They might be trying to hide their use from you.

Drug Test

Maybe your teen denies using drugs or alcohol. If you still feel that they are, you might have to do a drug test. There are accurate at-home kits available online.

Keep in mind that there are ways to fake-pass a drug test. For instance, your teen might know to drink a lot of water to flush out their system.

They might also know that it’s a tip-off to drug testers when urine is excessively clear. Therefore, they might take B-2 or B-12 before the test to give their urine a yellowish tint.

Searching Their Room

Should you search their room? If you feel it’s necessary, yes. Inform them that it is for their health and safety. Keep in mind that evidence might not be in plain sight. Be sure to check hidden spots such as empty candy bags or under loose floorboards.

Communication Is Key 

Let your teen know they can talk to you. They shouldn’t be afraid to come to you with a problem, even one as serious as this.

Educate them on the dangers of drug use and alcohol. Especially if they start young, teens can be at risk for serious problems down the line. Addiction and potential trouble with the law are just two of the many serious consequences.

In most cases, you should just ask them. Have a healthy conversation about their drug or alcohol use. If necessary, get them the professional help they need to get back on the right path.


I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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