- Change in friends-This is huge. Our relative (I will call him Nick) went from hanging around really positive, outgoing students to a group of friends that just wanted to hang out with each other on the roof of one kid’s house or the basement of another friend. They stopped going places like school dances, football games, or social events and only wanted to go to certain friends’ homes for the whole weekend.
- Change in appearance-Another big sign is a change in physical appearance. Nick was known in the family as the clean cut and well dressed kid. The kid took at least two baths a day and loved hygiene products. Over time, we noticed that his physical appearance changed drastically. Two baths a day went to no baths a day, the kid slept in the same day’s clothing, his teeth were not brushed causing gum disease, and new shoes were worn out after a couple of weeks.
- Change in behavior-The kid went from doing great in school and dreaming of going into medicine to talking about dropping out of school and living with the “basement kid”. Also, Nick talked about getting into fights and how he had gotten robbed of his money over the weekend like it was no big deal.
- Change in physical well being-Although Nick has a chronic disease , he was relative healthy and managed his illness very well. However, one summer, he was in the hospital several times and once on his deathbed. Unfortunately, a drug test was never given to him because doctors were convinced that his illness was the culprit to his hospitalization. Honestly, we were too clueless to ask–not our sweet kid!!
- Change in mood-Nick went from being a positive, fun loving, and kind soul to the “devil”. I mean you didn’t know what you were going to face when you were around him! In fact, I began to dread being around him and would intentionally stay away from the family to avoid facing this kid.
- Change in personality-Some of the behaviors that we noticed were incessant lying (even if he was caught) and stealing. I had a big jar of change and in one day he got into my room and was able to take all the silver coins out leaving me with only pennies. My total loss was $300, but the real cost was the loss of my trust in him. In addition to his sneaky behavior was the fact that he had the nerve to bring drug dealers and buyers to house with my younger child there during the day. Often young boys would walk from out of the woods up to my home and ask for Nick. When I would ask about who they were he would just say some kid who wanted to hang.
Now that you know something personal from my family, I hope that you will see that drug use can happen to any kids…even “good” kids. So it is important that we, as educators, and parents are aware of early signs of drug use in our students. Nick started using in 7th grade and then his use intensified in 9th grade.
Though I wished someone had told on Nick, I am not blaming the staff for not saying anything to our family. They may have not known what to say or maybe they thought we knew…I don’t know. As school counselors, we work in gray areas and it is not so easy to always feel comfortable sharing what may or may not be real. I know the first time I shared with a parent about their child’s drug use they were completely in denial. However, overtime, the parents were able to see the signs for themselves. In order to help parents, we must feel confident in our ability and knowledge to identify drug use among our students and children.
Basic Drug Information
|Do you know the difference?|
Drugs and their Effects on the Teen Body
Signs and Symptoms of Meth
Signs and Symptoms of Ecstasy
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine
Signs and Symptoms of LSD
Cough and Cold Medicine
Facts on DXM
Binge Drinking Video
Drug Information for Students
Drug Slang Information for Adults