Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Identifying the Signs of Your Son’s Drug Abuse

Parents will see a number of changes in their teenage children when they hit puberty and as they grow and develop after the age of 12. Personality, mood, appearance, interests, friends—all these and more will be the subjects of those changes.

However, because so many new things occur during this time, it can be hard for parents to know whether some of the more intrusive or negative changes are caused by hormones or by the use of drugs and alcohol.

If you’re concerned that your son is abusing drugs and alcohol, take a look at the following to help you determine whether or not he’s in need of help.


Teen language is replete with slang terms and references. When they discuss the use of drugs and alcohol, they often work even harder to “code” their language, using pop culture references to refer to the act of purchasing drugs, using drugs, or being high.

For example, your son may use terms like “Skittles,” “red devils” or “Robo-ing” to talk to friends about using over-the-counter cough medicine to get high. Or he may text his friends about buying or using club drugs and use terms like “Vitamin K,” “K,” “E,” “X,” and more. Though you can look up the terms you hear from your teen, many are regional so you may not find anything right away. Ask your son, ask around, and find out what he’s talking about with his friends.

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites are great ways to keep up with what your teen is doing with his friends. Make sure to pay attention not only to your son’s status updates and other uploads but the comments he makes on his friends’ pages. Though your son may be careful not to upload any pictures of himself doing anything objectionable—or being somewhere he’s not supposed to be—his friends may not be as careful, so it pays to know who his friends are and to pay attention to anything tagged with your son’s name. If they have privacy protections on their accounts, sit down with your son and look through their pictures and uploads with him, asking questions as you go.

The Usual Suspects

When looking for signs of drug and alcohol abuse, don’t overlook the obvious indications. Do your son’s friends drink or use drugs? Does your son often come home with bloodshot eyes, smelling like marijuana or alcohol, or behaving erratically? Have you found drugs or alcohol in his possession? Has his taste in music and/or clothes suddenly changed with a focus on drug-using artists or drug-touting t-shirts?

If you see red flags, trust your instincts and take action. We can help. Contact us at Muir Wood today for more information.