Elk River Teen Treatment Program

Tips on Spotting Possible Drug Use

Teens can be crafty when they have something to hide

How to Spot Alcohol or Drug Activity

September 26, 2017

Few creatures are as creative as teenagers which can be a good or bad character trait. If you've found this blog, you're either dealing with unhealthy behaviors of a teenager or you're scratching your head, wondering if the empty candy bags or glow sticks in your child's room justify the alarms that are going off in your head. In most cases, if you suspect something amiss with your teen - you have reason to worry. And investigate.  

Today's Drugs have Deadly Consequences

Today's drug activity leaves little room for "exploration." The drugs available to your teen today can kill them on the first try. The following are a few tips furnished by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids that might go a long way toward spotting issues with drug use. Even if you don't find direct evidence, the experts encourage you to "trust your gut" and take action by talking with your child and seeking help if necessary.

Since 2006, professional mental health professionals and support staff at Elk River Treatment Program have been helping families place their teen in the residential therapeutic environment not only to halt unhealthy, risky behaviors, but to help them discover the core issue that drives the need to self-medicate. Elk River's counselors also ask parents to shy away from harsh confrontation, but instead become an investigator by observing, asking open-ended questions, and truly listening to their children. Above all else, use one of President Reagan's favorite sayings: "Trust, but verify."

Crafty Places to Conceal Alcohol, Drugs and Paraphernalia

Parents should be on the lookout for favorite hiding spots:

  • Dresser drawers beneath or between clothes
  • Desk drawers
  • CD/DVD/Tape/Video cases
  • Small boxes – jewelry, pencil, etc.
  • Backpacks/duffle bags
  • Under a bed
  • In a plant, buried in the dirt
  • In between books on a bookshelf
  • Inside books with pages cut out
  • Makeup cases – inside fake lipstick tubes or compacts
  • Under a loose plank in floor boards
  • Inside over-the-counter medicine containers (Tylenol, Advil, etc.)
  • Inside empty candy bags such as M&Ms or Skittles

Source: Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

Other activities that should trigger an investigation include:

  • Missing alcohol - don't just assume your spouse drank it  
  • Disappearance of prescription or over-the-counter pills
  • Money missing - keep up with the amount of money in your wallet
  • Unusual packages in the mail
  • Rolling papers
  • Lighters or burns in upholstery 
  • Small glass vials or empty pen tubes
  • Candy or gum wrappers
  • Aerosol cans
  • Tubes of glue
  • Glow sticks
  • Poor hygiene

It's best to lock up prescriptions in your home, but if that is not possible, keep up with how many pills or how much cough syrup you're using. Don't hesitate to monitor your child's phone or social media posts. This should not be considered an invasion of privacy. These are preventive measures that may literally save your child's life.