Warning Signs

You may suspect that someone you know is misusing alcohol or other drugs. Maybe you’ve smelled alcohol on his breath; maybe she's sleeping all the time. You may sense a subtle change in behavior, appearance or mood.

Life can be incredibly challenging sometimes for youth and adults. People often feel overwhelmed with performance in school or work, struggling with relationships, with friends, with their partners or romances, parents or guardians. And some begin to use substances.

If you think someone you know may be using, these warning signs of substance misuse may help you confirm your suspicions.

  • Sudden change in friends
  • Secrecy about activities and cryptic conversations with friends, using "coded" language
  • More excuses or lying about where they have been or what they are doing
  • If in school or working, a decline in quality of work with increased absences
  • Changes in sleep patterns such as being up all night and sleeping a lot during the day
  • Use of incense, odor neutralizer, or perfume to hide the smell of smoke
  • New clothes that highlight or promote drug use
  • Looks terrible, no longer cares about appearance and hygiene
  • Borrows money; money disappears from sibling’s, parent’s or friend's handbags and wallets
  • Evidence of pipes, rolling papers, empty bottles, etc.
  • Empty cans of hairspray, glue bottles, correction fluid, with bags or rag products in trash or hidden
  • Eye drops to eliminate bloodshot eyes
  • New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol
  • Missing prescription drugs, especially painkillers and tranquilizers or sedatives

For Parents: