12 Common Signs of Drug Use In Kids

Many kids experiment with drugs, but that can lead to a variety of mental, behavioral, and physical symptoms. When left untreated, it can lead to drug addiction. This serious disease makes you feel unable to stop using drugs.

If you’re concerned that your child is struggling, look for these twelve common signs of drug use.

1. Financial Problems

Most drugs are not cheap. Some people spend hundreds of dollars on drugs per week, especially if they struggle with drug addiction (also called substance use disorder).

Pay attention to any signs of financial struggle, especially if they start suddenly and with no explanation. These signs may include:

  • falling behind on rent or bills
  • frequently borrowing money
  • declining invitations to any events that cost money
  • stealing

2. Drug Paraphernalia

The term drug paraphernalia refers to items used for making or consuming drugs. Examples include:

  • pipes
  • bongs
  • cigarette papers
  • roach clips
  • tin foil
  • burnt spoons
  • needles
  • razorblades

If your loved one is using drugs, you may find these items in their home, vehicle, or other personal space.

3. Changes In Sleeping Patterns

Both illegal and prescription drugs can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. For example, stimulant drugs like methamphetaminecocaine, and prescription amphetamines can cause insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep).

On the other hand, depressant drugs like alcoholbenzodiazepines, and opioid painkillers may make you more sleepy than usual. They can also prevent you from getting deep, restful sleep, which can leave you feeling constantly fatigued.

4. Changes In Weight

A sudden change in weight is one of the most common physical signs of drug abuse. Stimulant drugs such as meth and cocaine can significantly reduce appetite and cause weight loss.

Other drugs can increase a person’s weight. For example, if your loved one struggles with alcohol addiction (also called alcohol use disorder), the calorie-packed drinks will likely cause weight gain over time.

5. Lack Of Motivation

When you use drugs, your brain gets flooded with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation.

Repeated drug use can overload the brain with dopamine, causing the body to produce less dopamine naturally. As a result, your loved one may struggle to feel motivated without drugs. They may then start neglecting their responsibilities at work, school, or home.


6. Loss Of Interest In Activities

The excess dopamine from substance abuse not only saps your motivation but also makes it difficult to feel pleasure from activities that don’t involve drugs. You may then lose interest in those activities, even ones you used to love.

If your loved one suddenly seems uninterested in spending time with you, don’t take it personally. They might just be struggling with drugs.

7. Mood Swings & Personality Changes

Moodiness is one of the most common behavioral signs of addiction. Even if your loved one has not yet developed an addiction, regular drug use can cause drastic changes to their mood and personality.

For instance, if your loved one uses stimulants, they may seem excited one moment and extremely fearful the next. Similarly, if your loved one uses depressants, they may experience symptoms of depression such as hopelessness, fatigue, and irritability.

8. Relationship Problems

Lack of interest in activities, mood swings, and other drug-related behavioral changes may take a toll on your loved one’s social life.

For example, they may have trouble relating to friends and family members who don’t use drugs. In addition, they might feel ashamed of their drug use and isolate themselves to avoid judgment.

9. Decline In Personal Hygiene

Many people who live with drug abuse and addiction struggle to focus on anything besides drugs. That’s why they often neglect their physical health, including their personal hygiene. For instance, they might have body odor, unkempt hair, unbrushed teeth, or dirty clothes.

10. Cognitive Problems

Drug abuse can damage parts of your brain associated with cognitive skills like memory, concentration, and decision-making. With continued drug use, your loved one may experience cognitive issues such as:

  • memory loss
  • poor attention span
  • trouble making decisions
  • trouble learning new things

These side effects can hinder your loved one’s performance at work or school. Your loved one may also struggle to keep up with basic household chores, such as cleaning and cooking.

11. Unexplained Marks

If your loved one suddenly has unexplained bruises, scars, or other marks, they might be using drugs. Most people who inject drugs develop needle marks (also called “track marks”).

While these marks may appear anywhere on the body, the most common spots are the forearms, inner elbows, and thighs.

Similarly, if your loved one is using meth, they may develop meth mites. This term refers to a meth-induced hallucination that bugs are crawling on or under the skin. To get rid of this sensation, your loved one may scratch themselves excessively, leaving scars and scabs.

12. Withdrawal Symptoms

Regular drug or alcohol abuse can lead to physical dependence. That means your loved one will start relying on drugs to function normally. If they stop using drugs without the help of a medical provider, they may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • anxiety
  • nausea and vomiting
  • trouble sleeping
  • sweating
  • shaking

They may also develop other withdrawal symptoms depending on their body and the type of drugs they used.

If someone you love one displays these warning signs, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Their inpatient addiction treatment programs offer medical detox, mental health counseling, and other evidence-based services to help your loved one stay drug-free.

Note: I’d like to take a second and mention that although I did not write this article myself, I felt the information disclosed here would be of good use for anyone who is a parent and reads my blog. Feel free to also share this with anyone else who you feel may benefit from the information mentioned here. As always, thank you for reading!


Candid Mama

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