Sleeping and Eating Changes
Drug use causes sleeping and eating changes in almost everyone. These changes might mean sleeping a lot more or eating a lot less. They may also mean not sleeping or eating too frequently. Look out for major weight changes, as these are a good sign of serious problems.
Keep their more recent habits in mind to look for major changes. But, do not worry about minor isolated changes. For instance, marijuana tends to increase the appetite and its effects on children are varied. Many adolescents see anxiety and stress at school and at home. These can impact their sleeping and eating habits in a meaningful way.
Loss of Interest in Friends, Hobbies, and Family Relationships
Kids who turn to drugs often present changes in their relationships with their friends, hobbies, and family members. If you notice behavioral and mood changes as well as changes in their sleeping and eating patterns, look to see if your child is going through these other changes as well.
Kids are liable to change friend groups regularly. But if your child drops a friend who has been a regular in their life, dig deeper into the relationship change. Non-descript answers like “we just aren’t friends anymore” are a sign that there are deeper issues in the relationship. Similarly, if they pick up new friends that they never bring home or you are not allowed to meet, this is a warning sign that they have fallen in with the wrong crowd.
A lack of interest in old hobbies may also be a sign of new drug use. Look for hobbies like sports, games, or intellectual hobbies that seem to have fallen by the wayside overnight. Allow them room to shed the things they used to love as children, but if your son attends two-a-day football training every day and then stops going for an unintelligible reason, investigation may be required.
Finally, if your child has all of a sudden become defiant with you and other adult members of your family and is non-responsive to their siblings, dig deeper to see whether they are going through a phase or are trying to reconcile hiding something from you.
Overcorrecting Their Behaviors
Covering up drug use when you live with your parents is difficult, and the methods used for covering up evidence of past or present intoxication are tell-tale signs of drug use. Kids who use mints and gum excessively may be hiding drug use, as are kids who overuse colognes, perfumes and general deodorizers both in their rooms and in their cars.
Look out for lies that overcorrect their behavior, too. For example, if your child tells you that they smell like marijuana because they walked through a cloud of smoke somewhere, it is worth watching their behavior to further understand whether they are covering up for a new habit.
Every kid grows up to face drugs and alcohol in the world, whether at school or elsewhere. Being aware of the risks and having honest conversations with your kids are great ways to minimize the risks of substance abuse.
Remember to always approach these conversations with love and respect. If you find yourselves in a situation where one or both of you are unable to talk patiently and rationally, wait until you are both calm and sober enough to have this important conversation.