Tips for Parents – Spotting Drug Use and Paraphernalia

Tips for Parents – Spotting Drug Use and Paraphernalia
Before you seek drug intervention programs for your child, you may want to confirm whether they are abusing substances in the first place. Things to watch out for include your child’s physical appearance, behavior, and objects around your house. Consider the following tips to determine whether your child is using drugs so you can proceed with drug abuse intervention before it develops into addiction.

Physical Signs of Drug Use

Look out for physical changes in your child whom you suspect of using drug paraphernalia. Depending on the drug, your child may exhibit noticeable effects. Here are common physical signs associated with drug use:
  • Abrupt Weight Changes: Drugs usually lead to appetite changes, causing unexpected weight gain or loss.
  • Bloodshot Eyes: Your child may be using marijuana if their eyes appear red or glazed.  
  • Dilated Pupils: A common sign of cocaine use is pupil dilation or constriction.
  • Track Marks: Look for scars in your adolescent where they may have shot up into their veins.
  • Nosebleeds: Your child may be snorting drugs, which damages nasal blood vessels and causes sudden nosebleeds.

Emotional and Mental Signs of Drug Use

Pay attention to your child’s behavior as they may exhibit mental and emotional signs of drug use. Teens struggling with drug addiction may act differently from what you remember. Drug users tend to show increased aggression, a common symptom associated with methamphetamine use. These changes would then lead to ignoring personal hygiene. Monitor your child’s grades as well. Drug users may develop difficulties forming coherent thoughts, affecting their performance in school. They may also pay less attention or even sleep in class due to the lethargy drug users experience. Speak with your child’s teacher if they notice similar behavioral problems.

Common Drug Paraphernalia

Keep an eye out for items commonly associated with drug use. Your child may hide such things from you, which would cause concern that they are abusing illicit drugs without your knowledge. You may find small plastic baggies around your house or in the garbage. Drug distributors use these to hold marijuana. Other items related to marijuana use include pipes, grinders, lighters, matches, and rolling papers. Marijuana pipes and bongs may come in colorful glass, usually blown. These could resemble trinkets or souvenirs that you do not recognize. You might also want to look for makeshift pipes out of regular household items, such as bottles, fruits, and highlighters. Meanwhile, items associated with inhalant drugs like cocaine include straws, small mirrors, and razor blades. Young adults who use drugs can chop the drug with razor blades on small mirrors and then use straws to sniff up the substance. Watch out for injectable drug paraphernalia as well. These items include syringes, needles, medical tubes, burnt spoons, lighters, and Bunsen burners. If you find such items in your house and do not remember owning such things, someone may be using injectable drugs like heroin.


Learn about the common physical, mental, and behavioral signs of specific drug use. These include bloodshot eyes for marijuana users, nosebleeds for cocaine abusers, and aggressive behavior in meth addicts. At the same time, you may notice items related to these drugs around your house. Watch out for rolled-up papers and small baggies. If you find anything suspicious that you did not purchase yourself, consider seeking addiction treatment or drug addiction intervention solutions to prevent the drug use problem from worsening.
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