Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic
Veteran Depressed.jpg

First Signs of Substance Abuse

Lessons Learned & Shared Advice


At the first signs of substance abuse . . .

  • Be sensitive to warning signs. Look for changes and/or extremes in your loved one’s behavior. Also be aware of what his or her friends are doing, and if there are noticeable changes in their behaviors. This is particularly important with kids.

  • Remember that knowledge is power. It is easy to dismiss warning signs if you aren't looking for them. Do you research and learn what to look for.

  • Don't be in denial. In decades past, if someone was using marijuana, it was not seen as a huge deal.  It is now, partly because marijuana is so much stronger now.  It can easily lead to other substances that are far more harmful, particularly if there are even mild mental health issues involved. 

  • Know the arguments. Messages and justifications from marijuana users (and, in some states, legal marijuana sellers) are more widespread than they used to be.  Even children will be armed with what this community wants them to believe in order to justify their use of the drug. Arm yourself with the right knowledge to counter these arguments. 

  • Don't be deterred by stigma. There is no shame in getting help. Taking care of your loved one is far more important than what your friends or family might think. What's more, a community of support is critical for both you and your loved one.

  • Communicate Bravely. Don't hold back knowledge from other parents if you think their kids may be using drugs. You may be saving a child’s life if you are open about this.

  • Remove them from the situation. If you know, or even suspect, one of your child's friends may be using drugs, take immediate action. However unpopular your actions may be with your child, separating them from these friends and explaining why is a must. You, of course, cannot handle this the same way when an adult loved one has friends who are harmful, but having a conversation about it is a good first step.

  • Maintain Contact with School Officials. If you're a parent who thinks your child may be in trouble with substances, maintaining contact with his/her school is very important.  Stay in touch with the school’s authorities, especially any law enforcement that may be present at your son or daughter’s school.

  • Join a support group. You may want to join a support group to expose you to what others wish they had done or known, and it will buttress you against enabling behavior. Parents, for instance, will learn from parents of kids who are further along in their drug use than your child may be. Don't find yourself saying "I wish I'd known...."

  • Track social media. If you are a parent who suspects his/her child may be using drugs, social media will tell you a lot. Get on their social media to see if your child or his/her friends are posting their behavior. Even in photos, you will find out a lot about their lives.