Re: What were your first signs there was a drug problem

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse Archives' started by JeanKoontz, Jan 29, 2002.

  1. JeanKoontz

    JeanKoontz New Member

    Kids are very good at hiding drugs and/or alcohol. breath mints and eye drops were the first sign. I can tell you that I never could smell the alcohol I knew he was drinking. I have no idea why. I was called one time by another mom who reported my son had been drinking. Too bad I didn't have one of those drug sniffing dogs because my nose didn't pick it up and it was not for lack of trying.

    The complete change in attitude was my first real clue. He was very "in your face". He had me convinced that I had to have proof and if I did, he denied it or made up some lame excuse, which it was expected that I would believe.

    there were pieces of pens in his room. There were also bits of foil, which I am told now usually had some sort of drug in it.

    One of the first signs, which looking back should have been a big one, I overlooked. My lazy kid made popcorn. Not the microwave popcorn, but the one that you have to put in the pan and wait. Well, obviously to me now, he was having the munchies and he wanted popcorn. Burned a couple of pans beyond recognition.

    This was all happening when I knew something was wrong, but couldn't quite figure it out. Knew he was doing drugs, but had no proof. Knew he was a completely different kid, but I felt helpless to do anything about it.

    The main thing I can say that led me to know that he was using drugs was the complete change in attitude. As I said before, this was the only clue that I had that he couldn't deny. Although he tried, I didn't buy it.

    After four years of hell, the only thing I really have learned is that I know my child clean and sober and I know my child on drugs. There is a big difference.

    Sorry you found alcohol in your daughter's room. Did she take responsibility for it? Did she accept consequences?

    I would be very concerned if she turned it around and tried to make you feel like you were wrong for finding the proof. If she accepts responsibility, this could be a good opening for a talk.

    Hope this helps.

  2. ck1992

    ck1992 New Member

    Hi Dannielle- Some of us had to learn the hard way.

    I thought I was pretty savvy about what to look for but I was humbled pretty quickly. Turns out I didn't have a clue. :rolleyes:

    Like Trish, a total change in mood SHOULD have been my first clue but I didn't get it at the time. It wasn't until I literally walked in on my difficult child after he had finished smoking pot in his room and found a bong and him stoned on his butt that I realized what was going on.

    Big DUH!!!! on my part, huh?

    After that, so many other clues made sense to me. I did weekly searches of his room, the garage and the basement since they were his hideouts. Even then, it didn't occur to me that he could use over the counter medications to simulate a high when he couldn't get the pot.

    I guess my caution is to look for any changes in behavior, mood, or mobility....and check the bedroom occasionally for unusual things.

  3. The Leslie

    The Leslie New Member

    I agree with the breath mints, chewing lots of gum, also finding stuff like foil, empty pen tubes, etc. but even if you find nothing, watch the mood swings, and instant reactions like sudden anger or intense feelings.
    one of the woman at the NA meeting told me a lot of these can have dual lives: at home they seem okay but intense. outside the home, they have a whole other world of contacts and behaviours. a lot of kids are way deep into drugs before the parents can tell due to the kids holding their own in publilc. she said one sign was when kids dont come home at night or for days. it is to avoid letting you see them high. ant did that a lot!
  4. Reeko98

    Reeko98 New Member

    I hope I would still recognize a bong. Sad but true. I thank you for the info you have given me. Please keep it coming. But don't all teenager's change? It is my son I'm talking about and he has gained about 60lbs in the last 2 year's. While I am sure this is due to hormone's he is very bothered by it.

    I want to not expect the worst but I also want to be prepared for what is realistic in our young people's lives. I know a lot of these issue revovle about self-esteem and peer love/pressure.

    I don't want to assume the worst but also want to try my best to be aware of what's going on. I know often these little bugger's really out smart us with their love and their ability to believe in their complete inosence.

    It is so hard no matter how mad I am to not see my children as this innocent baby that God asked me to watch. I get so mad sometimes and think, what did I do wrong? I made lot's of mistake's. How can I prevent my children from doing the same.

  5. ck1992

    ck1992 New Member

    Dannielle... In my difficult child's case, he used a plastic iced tea jug and fashioned his own bong. ARGGGGHHHHH

  6. ahall

    ahall New Member


    First and foremost - you are not thinking the worst of your child because you want to be prepared, and know what the "indicators" of drug use are. As you said, I thought my children would never be able to "pull one over on me" - thought I was too aware. NOT!

    I have to agree with the others - personality change/attitude is what I first noticed, but like you, chalked it up to hormones. Pretty soon, I found lighters, matches, rolling papers in various pockets. Did I begin searching his clothes and room? You bet I did!!! But I still was naive as to the severity of his drug problem, and there were so many "hiding places" I could never have found them all.

    While smoking marijuana, my son definitely put on weight - due to "munchies". He also got very depressed - wanted to sleep all the time. He began missing school - not skipping - just wouldn't get out of bed in the morning.

    As you say, hormones change our "teens" - sometimes into aliens from another planet. But underneath, you can still see pieces of your child. With drug use - usually their very being changes. I think you are doing the right thing - supporting your teenager, yet keeping a "cautious eye" out for any warning signs.

    Good luck.

  7. PJ

    PJ New Member

    Hi Danielle, if you want to know the first clues here it is no guessing about it.
    Sit your child down and ask them if they are using substance.
    Why parents fail to use this as the first method is beyond me. Most kids I would venture a guess well over 70% of kids experiment.
    We in this home have always been open and upfront in discussing drugs just as easily as we did sex, strangers and manners.
    James is the only addict of all the kids. The others experimented, we talked and it stayed at that.
    When an addict first experiments with drugs he has a physical allergic reaction. While using the drugs the chemical dopamine is released into the users system. This is a "feel good" chemical the body produces. (We can get from exercise etc.) The dopamine mixes internally producing the super drug THIQ. The addict has abnormally euphoric feelings ( superiority, funloving, ease) and the edge is off. The addict becomes smooth and confident.
    Everything else fades from thought, no cares or thoughts of responsibility.
    After the drug wears off the bad, remorseful feelings come. Promises have been broke and guilt comes.
    The cycle works thusly
    1. irratible , restlessness, discontent
    2.mental obsession that the drug will cure number 1.
    3.addict uses has a physical allergic reaction.
    4. Increases and continues using.
    5. eventual crash, guilt and depression lead back to number 1. and the cycle continues.

    That is it, people are genetically predisposed to becoming addicts I believe. Once an addict you are an addict for life. It becomes a battle for life. It is a battle many win.As in all fights you have to win alot of smaller battles to be victorious in the war.

    Peace rita
  8. ahall

    ahall New Member


    You are so right about once an addict - an addict for life. That's the part that scares me for my son.

    We were also told that with crack - the first high they get from it is the "best high" they will ever get, and they spend the rest of their drug days "in search of that first high" but they never again "peak" like they did the first time.

  9. stressedmom

    stressedmom New Member

    Well, my daughter sure kept her drinking/drug use hidden well. We didn't find out for two years--right after her school year ended in 9th grade. She had begun drinking mixed drinks in the beginning of 8th grade, then moved on to straight vodka. Then she moved on to smoking pot.

    Her best friend's mom had gotten divorced from her alcoholic husband and was now out flittering around every night 'til 9:00 p.m. or later. Angela went to keep "T" company right after school (we felt sorry for "T" who was a sweet girl--duh! we should have had her come to OUR house). Well, there was a big cabinet in the basement which was filled with liquor. "T" bought a padlock and claimed the booze as hers. Her mom hated the dirt-floored basement and never went down there.

    The girls then moved on to smoking pot, thanks to a boy that always walked around town with his backpack on his back and started hanging out near "Tourette's Syndrome" house. The backpack was full of pot, apparently. They'd smoke pot after school and by the time Angela got home, the effects were worn off and we never suspected a thing. The pot was hidden at "Tourette's Syndrome" house.

    Then Angela started buying the neighbor boy's Ritalin and taking that and buying "No Doze" at the store. My memory is foggy on what drug she took next or when exactly it was, but she moved on to harder drugs--PCP, LSD, Ketamine, Ecstasy, Crystal Meth (could be forgetting some).

    We first found out about the drug use when "Tourette's Syndrome" mom made a search of her room and found a notebook which the girls had passed back and forth telling of their drinking and smoking pot. It told of how they got the town's "retarded man" who walked around all day to buy them liquor (after they depleted the liquor cabinet) in exchange for them giving him money for cigs.

    I searched Angela's room and found a similar notebook. husband and I sat her down and confronted her, and she confessed. I didn't find any drugs when I searched, but I didn't know back then where to all look. I did find a thermos wedged down between her blankets and the wall. When I opened it, it smelled like brandy. She said she had had it in her locker just in case she needed it.

    We grounded that girl from everything--TV, radio, phone, going out, etc.-- for 7 months. (We were too extreme.) We only allowed Sunday School and Youth Group. Well, guess what? We learned that she and her church friend "K" had been skipping out of Sunday School to smoke pot behind church! And we found out that a boy at youth group sold her pot!

    Well, that was only the beginning.

    Keep good tabs on your kids. Be a snoop. Never let them be at a friend's house where there is no adult present. We were so stupid and naive. Our daughter was just this quiet, sweet 13-yr-old and so was her friend. Who would have thought????

    As an aside, when we found out, we took our daughter to the police station and had a policeman talk to her, hoping it would scare the crap out of her. That did nothing. We told the cop about the retarded man and the backpack boy, and he said he couldn't do anything about it unless they saw it happen. We called the school principal and told her Angela had had alcohol in her locker and could there be a consequence, and she said no because they hadn't found it in her locker. I had to insist that periodic locker checks be made in the ensuing high school years. A few times I came in myself and did it, finding nothing, though.

  10. ahall

    ahall New Member


    You are so right. Kids can weave the best tales and connive and do whatever it takes - if they really want to hide something.

    You mentioned thinking that only sending her to Sunday School and Youth Groups were the answer. I would have thought so too. Now, I too know better. It doesn't matter where they go, what school they attend, or where you live. Drugs and alcohol know no bounds. My son went to a public school with over 5,000 children enrolled, and a private all boys high school - with about 1,200 boys enrolled. He said that drugs were actually MORE accessible at the private school! Who would have thought.

  11. wendie

    wendie New Member

    My son is a 18 year old heroine addict, but has done just about everything under the sun. He started using around the age of 10, and it progressed from that point. Drugs were never the root of his problems, just a convenient outlet of much bigger emotional problems.

    Here are a few things of the early signs that I found:

    tin foil (HUGE HINT) I wish I could double bold this

    broken pens

    broken light bulbs (used to free-base)

    burnt matches

    lots of chewing gum or mints(he never had money to buy this)

    Last minute runs to their room before they leave (we would search him before he left for school...then he'd made a last minute run to his room to get his gloves, which ALWAYS contained drugs)

    stories of other parents taking them home from a scheduled activity (including drug treatment programs)

    soda cans with holes in them

    apples with holes in them

    ANYTHING with holes in them (used as bongs)

    rubbing alcohol in their room, or the smell of rubbing alcohol (they use it to clean bongs)

    missing cold medicine (especially antihistimine - they grind it and smoke it or free-base it)

    missing spices that look like oregano (they mix this with pot in order to sell...makes them more money to buy their own drugs)

    unexplained money

    hang up calls (usually people looking to hook up with drugs)

    over-willingness to go to outpatient drug rehab (a great place to get drugs)

    shop lifting (money to get drugs, especially when parents stop giving them money)

    obvious school issues: failing classes, cutting classes (especially at the beginning of the day, lunch, and end of the day)

    major weight loss (serious...probably doing chemicals at this point)

    boils on skin (long-term chemical use)

    Have you had enough? :wink: Bottom line is, if you suspect that your child is doing drugs, and they have given you good reason to have that suspicion...tear every inch of their room apart. Look under mattresses, in mattresses, take out dresser drawers, look in books (found several hollowed out books with bongs, drugs), look in doorknobs, under loose carpeting, window seals, attic hatches, school books, etc.

    We thought we were doing good searches until we REALLY started to search. We had to tear up carpet, tear down doors, get up in the attic to find all the very inventive places he would hide drugs. He would tape them to the underside of a dresser drawer. Pretty smart, eh? No one looks UNDER a drawer. He hollowed out his history book and kept a nice stash in there. Once he figured out that we were searching every inch of his room, his hiding places expanded to the house in general. We were vigilant, though, and searched all that as well. It eventually ended with him digging holes in the ground along his route to school and hiding drugs. That didn't last long, either.

    This is a rough game you're playing, and these kids are a good generation ahead of us in doing this. My prayers and strength are with you. We didn't win.

  12. ck1992

    ck1992 New Member

    Because we have some great new advice, and because this thread already has the links to the old advice on the General archives, I'm going to lock up this thread and move it to our archives.