When the use is risky the substance may be used to forget unpleasant feelings like boredom, insecurity, anger and sadness. The substance is then only used as a way out or as comfort.
The most important indicators of risky use are changes in the behavior of your child. Maybe the school results get worse while your child was always a good student, your child suddenly has new friends that are totally different and he doesn't see his old friends anymore, or your child forgets things lately. Beware that you don't mix up lovesickness and risky use of substances. Besides changes in the behavior there are also physical signs like nausea, lack of appetite, chronic tiredness, infections and insomnia. Red, bloodshot eyes can indicate the use of alcohol or hashish. Other signs that could indicate an excessive use are grimness, problems in dealing with other people, a continuous lack of money, irritability, being standoffish, indifference, fears and suspicion. Also remarks from people around you can bring possible abuse to your attention. Also having a lot of small accidents (skin burns, cuts and burns in clothes), smoking dope and drinking secretly and lying about his smoking or drinking behaviour can be an indication of risky or problematic use.
When you are concerned because you recognize several of the signs mentioned above, try to answer the following questions for yourself to see if your suspicions are justified.
- Does my child still go to school/ a sports club?
- Is he cheerful or does he make a happy impression?
- Does he make a tense or depressed impression?
- Does he neglect the friends he used to see?
- Does he or she only use alcohol or drugs as a stimulant or as a way to find comfort?
- Have a new conversation with your child and propose to get help together from a care center.