Signs & Symptoms

  • The following is a list of possible symptoms of alcohol, drug or tobacco use. Having any of these signs is not necessarily a diagnosis of substance abuse. These symptoms may also be indicative of adolescent stress, depression or other health problems.

    In substance abuse, the key is to look for significant changes in your child’s physical appearance, personality, attitude or behavior. If your child exhibits several of these symptoms or if they persist over a long period of time, please seek help from a counselor or mental health professional.

    Physical Signs

    • Loss of appetite, any changes in eating habits, unexplained weight loss or gain.
    • Slowed or staggering walk; poor physical coordination
    • Inability to sleep, awake at unusual times, unusual laziness.
    • Red, watery eyes; pupils larger or smaller than usual; blank stare
    • Cold, sweaty palms; shaking hands
    • Puffy face, blushing or paleness
    • Smell of substance on breath, body or clothes
    • Extreme hyperactivity; excessive talkativeness
    • Runny nose; hacking cough
    • Needle marks on lower arm, leg or bottom of feet
    • Nausea, vomiting or excessive sweating
    • Tremors or shakes of hands, feet or head
    • Irregular heartbeat


    Behavioral Signs

    • Change in overall attitude/personality with no other identifiable causes
    • Changes in friends; new hang-outs; sudden avoidance of old crowd; doesn’t want to talk about new friends; friends are known drug users
    • Change in activities or hobbies
    • Drop in grades at school or performance at work; skips school or is late for school
    • Change in habits at home; loss of interest in family or family activities
    • Difficulty in paying attention; forgetfulness
    • General lack of motivation, energy or self-esteem, “I don’t care” attitude
    • Sudden oversensitivity, temper tantrums, or resentful behavior
    • Moodiness, irritability, or nervousness
    • Silliness or giddiness
    • Paranoia
    • Excessive need for privacy; unreachable
    • Secretive or suspicious behavior
    • Car accidents
    • Chronic dishonesty
    • Unexplained need for money, stealing money or items
    • Change in personal grooming habits
    • Possession of drug paraphernalia