Signs of Substance Abuse


Being your brother's keeper is important at HSC. Be on the lookout for these signs of substance abuse.

Changes in friends

  • Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades
  • Increased secrecy about possessions or activities
  • Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors
  • Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using "coded" language
  • Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
  • Increase in borrowing money
  • Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.
  • Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories
  • Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
  • New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol
  • Missing prescription drugs-especially narcotics and mood stabilizers
Emotional signs:  sudden mood swings, irresponsible behavior, lack of interest in activities of former interest, personality differences, low self-esteem, irritability

Physical signs: repeated health problems, lingering cough, fatigue, frequent headaches, red and glazed eyes

Social indications: changes in friends and preferred activities, changes in style of dress, less attention to personal appearance, run-ins with the law

Academic problems: dropping grades, discipline problems, decreased interest in school activities and extracurricular activities, increased tardiness, negative attitude