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Teenage danger signs

Substance abuse danger signs are not always clear-cut. If the user is a teenager, many of the signs can be confused with "normal" adolescent behavior. Some signs also can be confused with health problems. It is important to be alert to the following signs. A combination of the following characteristics may be cause for concern that your child or loved one is suffering from substance abuse:

  • Has your child's behavior become noticeably erratic? Does she or he experience sudden mood swings and unpredictable behavior?
  • Does your child seem to be losing old friends and spending time with a new group? Have they lost time from work or school due to circumstances you know little about?
  • Is your child unable to account for large sums of money? Have you had objects or money mysteriously disappear from your home?
  • Is your child reluctant to talk about alcohol or other drugs?
  • Does your child lie about alcohol and other matters?
  • Have you ever found drug paraphernalia (rolling paper, baggies, small spoons, roach clips, capsules) or beer bottles or cans in his or her room? Did your child "explain it away" when asked about it (e.g., "I'm holding it for a friend.")?
  • Has your child lost interest in his or her physical appearance?
  • Has your child admitted to trying alcohol or other drugs "just once," but denied regular use?
  • Are you hearing rumors about your child's partying, goofing off, or drinking and drugging?
  • Has your child been cutting classes or been late frequently?
  • Is your child suddenly less responsive? Is she or he losing interest in schoolwork, athletics, extra-curricular activities, family, job, or other previous interests?
  • Has your child been complaining or exhibiting chest pains, allergy symptoms, vomiting, loss of appetite, unusual craving for sweets, red eyes, or dilation of pupils?
  • Have your child's relationships with other family members and friends become contentious or deteriorated?
  • Does your child show signs of depression, loneliness, paranoia or withdrawal?

General danger signs

Paying attention to substance abuse danger signs can greatly increase the chances of getting your family, friends or loved one the help they need.

Does someone you know...

  • Need a drink at a certain time each day?
  • Lose time from work or school due to drinking?
  • Drink alone or try to hide drinking?
  • Have loss of memory or loss of control during or after drinking?
  • Seem irritable, defensive, jealous, moody or easily angered after drinking?
  • Have physical complaints that may be related to drinking, such as inefficiency, low energy, restlessness or nausea?
  • Feel guilty, worthless or depressed because of drinking and behavior associated with drinking?
  • Avoid friends and social activities because of drinking?
  • Embarrass, harm or worry family and friends with his or her drinking and behavior?
  • Have drug paraphernalia (rolling paper, baggies, small spoons, roach clips, capsules, etc.)?
  • Have panic reactions or short-term memory loss?
  • Exhibit emotional instability?
  • Experience seizures, blackouts, severe depression or paranoia?
  • Exhibit poor concentration and/or coordination?
  • Experience brief intense euphoria that is followed by depression?

Staten Island University Hospital is prepared to give hands-on treatment and care with a number of counseling services and treatment programs.

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