As a parent, there is nothing in this world you love more than your child. After all, you brought them into this world. You carried them in your arms when they were young, you changed their diapers, you even took them to school their first day. You watched them grow and develop. You witnessed their first steps, and you remember their first words. You love your children. And because of that love, it pains you to see them in any sort of trouble. You know something is wrong. You can feel them slipping away. You want to help, but maybe you just don’t know how. Maybe you don’t even want to admit the severity of the problem – but you know something needs to be done. You know you need to do something. The first thing you need to do is recognize the problem.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the following are some indicators that your child or teenager may have a problem with substance abuse:

  • Bloodshot eyes or pupil abnormality
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Seizures
  • Injuries/accidents/bruises that they won’t or can’t tell you about- they don’t know how they got hurt
  • Shakiness, tremors, slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination
  • Problems at school
  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise
  • Stealing
  • Sudden change in relationships and friends
  • Frequently getting into trouble
  • Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing

Teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol – it’s not uncommon. For most, substance-use never goes much farther than that. But as a parent, it is your duty to watch out for the signs and symptoms of a larger problem. And as a loved-one, it is your responsibility to act immediately when you run into one. Adolescence is unpredictable enough, but when you throw drugs, or alcohol, or depression, or all three into the mix, you only get disaster. Talk to your children about drugs and alcohol. Talk to them young and talk to them often. Learn the signs of substance abuse. Learn the signs of depression. Don’t be afraid to intervene. You child’s life and future are the most important things to you – Do everything you can to safeguard them. For more information on addiction treatment and what your options are, please contact your doctor or family health physician today. Help is available, and it’s never too late for things to be different.