Recognising the signs of drug use


As young people grow up and become more independent, it is possible that, at some time or other, they will be exposed to drugs. It is important that you recognise the possible signs of drug use. However, it is also important to remember these signs are often a natural part of growing up.  If you are concerned about your child or someone else you know who may be taking drugs, you should encourage them to seek help. 

Possible signs of drug use include:

  • Sudden changes in mood and behaviour (erratic, irritable, moody, hyperactivity, restlessness)
  • Deterioration in personal appearance, health and hygiene
  • Easily or constantly fatigued
  • Secretiveness
  • Depression
  • Increased absenteeism from school or work
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stealing money or goods
  • Excessive spending or money-borrowing
  • Deterioration of long friendships and relationships

If you are concerned about a child or young person in your care, please see our Parent Section for more information.

For more information on the signs to look for visit Talk to Frank

Recognising the presence of drugs

The only way drugs can be fully identified is through substance analysis. However, these are some of the things to look out for:

  • Small plastic or elaborately folded paper wraps
  • Aluminuim foil wrappers, burnt foil spoons
  • Vials, small bottles
  • Hypodermic needles
  • Unusual pills, powders or liquids in small quantities
  • Herbal substances,solid or crumbly brown resin
  • Glass pipes, smoking pipes,other smoking paraphernalia
  • Unusual strong smells, pungent, sickly sweet or smoky.

Transcending addiction and redefining recovery: Jacki Hillios at TEDxBoulder

Published on 30 Oct 2013

Why are some able to transcend their addiction while others are not? What do people really need to escape the shame of their addiction and achieve sustained recovery? Jacki's talk focuses on answering these questions and demonstrates how resilience of the human spirit intersects with social contextual factors to set the stage for those struggling with addiction to choose a pathway to health.

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