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Is My Child Using Drugs? 5 Signs a Young Adult May Be Hiding Substance Abuse

5 Signs Your Child is Hiding Drug Abuse

You’ve watched your child grow up before your eyes. From holding them as a newborn to maturing into a young adult, you probably feel as though you know your kid inside and out. Because of this, you may feel caught off guard if your son or daughter’s behavior suddenly changes due to young adult drug or alcohol abuse. It’s easy to dismiss negative or odd behavior as “growing pains,” but with young adult substance abuse on the rise, it’s important to know the signs that your child is hiding drug use.


5 Signs a Young Adult May Be Hiding Substance Abuse: #1 Isolation


It can be easy to dismiss strange behaviors as normal young adult development. Despite this, a clear sign of young adult substance abuse is if your son or daughter begins to isolate themselves from friends and family. As drugs and alcohol take hold of a person’s life, the substance becomes the main focus. As it is quite obvious when someone is high or drunk, addicts and alcoholics will spend more time by themselves to protect their use. The less people around, the less likely they are to get caught and the longer they can get high or drunk. 


5 Signs a Young Adult May Be Hiding Substance Abuse: #2 Behavioral Changes


Along with isolating themselves, young adults hiding substance abuse will experience a noticeable shift in behavior. Locking doors, avoiding eye contact, and being secretive about their phone use can indicate a desire to keep their drug stash hidden, to hide signs of intoxication, and to protect the people that help them acquire drugs. At the same time, they may be losing interest in school, work, or hobbies. Mood changes marked by anger, irritability, and extreme lethargy may be indicating a bigger problem.


5 Signs a Young Adult May be Hiding Substance Abuse: #3 Changes in Appearance


It’s no secret that the experience of being a young adult includes some pretty dramatic changes in your physical experience. The changes in appearance that coincide with substance abuse are not the same as normal growth and development. You may notice your loved one isn’t cutting or combing their hair normally, for example. Perhaps they go days without showering or brushing their teeth. Are they wearing the same clothes day in and day out? Take time to notice if they smell like smoke or something burning. If your loved one is using drugs intravenously, you will notice they are always wearing long sleeves - even during the summer. Someone who is abusing drugs is constantly cycling between a type of euphoria or a primal compulsive desire to get more drugs. How they look or smell quickly starts to rank low on their list of priorities. 


5 Signs a Young Adult May be Hiding Substance Abuse: #4 Personality Changes


Depending on the type of drugs or alcohol that your child is abusing, their personality will ultimately change to mirror it. If they are abusing cocaine or Adderall, for example, they may exhibit bouts of mania or paranoia. If they are using opiates or marijuana, you may find them to be withdrawn, uncommunicative, and deceitful. Alcohol use leads to a loss of inhibitions, depression, or lack of ability to focus. There will always be signs; you just have to know what you’re looking for


5 Signs a Young Adult May be Hiding Substance Abuse: #5 Physical Health


While everyone gets sick a few times a year on average, someone struggling with drug or alcohol abuse may find their physical health constantly in decline. Young adult substance abuse lowers the body's natural ability to fight off illness, overworks their vital organs, and draws energy away from healthy systems to defend against the onslaught of poisonous ingredients that are being ingested. Noticing that your child is frequently tired, unable to speak intelligibly, or has nose bleeds more than usual may also be signs of a problem. On the more serious end, substance abuse can lead to rapid weight loss or gain, vomiting, and even seizures. Biologically, drug and alcohol use comes with a steep physical price to pay. Regardless of how well they may be hiding anything else, their health won’t lie.


5 Signs a Young Adult May be Hiding Substance Abuse: How and Where to Look for Signs


Are you noticing several of these signs when it comes to your child? Do you suspect your son or daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol? Then it’s time to take action. Look them in the eyes. Use your nose. Watch their behavior. If they are living under your roof, search their space. If you feel like you are violating their privacy or starting conflict, remember that this is all coming from a place of love. We love our kids. That can mean tough love sometimes. Young adult substance abuse is not going away on its own. Confronting them about it may be just what they need in order to get help.