Features September 2019

Silent Signs Your Teen May Be Using Drugs

Your teen’s bedroom might look like a normal room, but there could be tell-tale signs of drug use hiding in plain sight.

According to the National Institutes of Health, half of high school students will try try an illegal drug by their senior year. Authorities say looking for signs of drug use and experimentation is the first step in protecting your child.

There are indicators that parents can easily overlook without realizing it, such as a misshaped paper clip, silverware, anti-diarrhea medicine or even something as innocent as a Q-tip. There are ways to spot the red flags, but parents have to be educated and trained on what to look for. Here are both subtle and obvious signs that may point towards drug use and other at-risk behaviors.

Empty cans: There are numerous containers on the market with false bottoms or middles, such as fake soda or shave cream cans that could be used to hide and store pills or other substances.

Spoons: Pay attention to the silverware, specifically spoons because they are commonly used to prepare and heat up drugs.

Shoelaces: Random shoelaces or laceless-shoes could indicate teens using them as a tourniquet to help find a vein.

Kelly Wilkinson/Indy Star

Anti-diarrhea medicine: Bottles of Imodium®, Pepto-Bismol (TM) or Phillips’®Milk of Magnesia may be telltale signs because opiates can make the user constipated. If one over-uses a laxative medicine, then they might need the anti-diarrhea medicine to balance it out.

Empty toilet paper rolls: A sploof is a homemade filter made out of an empty toilet paper roll and dryer sheets to mask the smell of marijuana. There are more than 2,000 YouTube videos young adults can search for demonstrating on how to make one.

Common household items: Many items like cleaning products, propellant sprays and whip cream cans contain chemicals that produce a mind-altering experience when inhaled. A slang term for abusing inhalants is whippets, and the side effects can cause organ damage or failure, vomiting, seizures and possibly even death.

Posters on the wall: Drugs and substances that can be stored as flat as possible, like marijuana or cocaine, can be taped to the wall and hidden behind posters.

Trash can: Not surprising, but parents may find suspicious items in the trash. Scorched tinfoil is used to heat crushed opioids or use heroin. Empty gel capsules are frequently used to transport heroin. A cotton swab that’s missing one side could have been used to help shoot up heroin.

Parents can be a vital part of keeping their children drug-free by being more vigilant in watching for signs of potential drug abuse and experimentation. They can teach their kids about alcohol and drugs through communicating openly and honestly about the effects it can have on their health, academics and relationships.

Written by: Dr. Michael Carlton, A Better Today Recovery Services

Dr. Michael Carlton is the Medical Director for A Better Today Recovery Services. A Better Today Recovery Services (ABTRS) is a substance abuse treatment center. Located in Scottsdale for more than ten years, ABTRS serves the community and is committed to saving lives and healing families. With providing lifetime support and alumni events, the center continues to care for clients after treatment. Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 30 years of experience in treating addiction.

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