Parents often ask the Prevention Specialists at Jackson Recovery Centers for symptoms of drug use. Some easily recognizable signs of trouble include sudden declines in grades and problems with class attendance. Teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators all play a role in identifying when a child is at risk and helping to keep her/him safe.
During the summer months, when school is not in session, parents may feel less confident about identifying problem behaviors. How do you know if your child needs help when the structure of school is not available? Fortunately, there are key indicators of potential problems that are not dependent on assessing school performance.
Has your child’s eating and sleeping patterns changed? Alcohol and illegal drugs can affect the amount and quality of sleep a person gets, as well as their appetite. For example, marijuana use can lead to drowsiness as well as an increased appetite. Stimulants, such as methamphetamine or prescription ADHD medication can cause sleeplessness and hyperactivity, as well as decreased appetite in the user.
Has your child lost interest in hobbies, sports, or other activities? This can be a sign that other things are becoming more important to your child or interfering with her ability to engage in athletic activities. Talk to your child about changes you see.
Is your child withdrawn, depressed, or careless about grooming? Using drugs and drinking alcohol may make kids feel depressed and irritable. Your child may also stop taking pride in how he looks or making drastic changes to his appearance.
Has your child lied to you about their whereabouts? Talk to your child and set rules about where she is allowed to go and with whom. Set a curfew and enforce it. Take time to get to know her friends and her friend’s parents. Staying connected with other parents is a valuable resource to knowing what is going on in your child’s life.
Does your child have a lack of appreciation for values that used to be important? Kids go through many changes as they grow up. However, major behavior changes, such as stealing or acting violent or aggressive, are signs that there could be a problem.
While these symptoms do not always indicate a drug or alcohol problem, it is important to be proactive and address concerns as soon as they arise. If you have suspicions it's important to avoid accusations. Communicate with your child’s coaches, friend’s parents, and other people close to your child to see if they have noticed changes. A professional evaluation may be needed, as kids are not always honest about whether or not they are making high-risk choices. If you're unsure about the right way to talk with your kid, visit SAMSHA's (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) website at www.samsha.gov. You can also give Jackson a call if you have questions or want more information at 712-234-2300. You can also visit us on our website www.jacksonrecovery.com.