Signs Of Drug Use

It can be scary to see your child under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But knowing what to will help you to remain calm and it will give you the confidence to after them.

General Tips

  • Stay calm and try not to panic.
  • Gently reassure them and try and keep their surroundings quiet.
  • Try to find out what they have taken – remember that they may have taken drink and drugs, so don’t assume it’s one or the other.
  • Stay with them. Don’t leave a very drunk person to ‘sleep it off.’
  • Keep checking on them when they feel better.
  • Call the doctor or an ambulance on 911 if you’re worried.
  • Don’t try and discuss their drink or drug use while they are under the influence.

Signs of Cannabis Use

  • laughing, giggling
  • being hungry and eating a lot of snacks after suspected use (known as the munchies)
  • being forgetful, distracted or finding it hard to concentrate
  • bloodshot eyes
  • smell of smoke
  • cigarette rolling papers (‘skins’)
  • torn bits of cardboard from cigarette packets, rolled up to make a filter
  •  clean cigarette filters left over from removing the tobacco for a ‘joint’
  •  bits of loose tobacco
  •  small pipes

Signs of Stimulant Use (Cocaine, Speed)

  • hyperactive
  • talking non-stop
  • acting very confident or arrogant
  • being hyperactive or full of energy
  • excessive tiredness or very low mood (a day after suspected use)
  • not eating much
  • sucking lollipops or chewing gum (to ease the urge to grind teeth
    with ecstasy) or drinking a lot of water (ecstasy)
  • runny or itchy nose
  • white powder around the nose (cocaine)
  • large dilated pupils
  • pulling faces, grinding jaws
  • sweating
  • dry mouth or white spit (ecstasy)
  • small (3cm) plastic ‘jiffy bags’ that powders or pills may be sold in

Signs of Solvent Use

  • not paying attention
  • being clumsy or irritable
  • acting drunk
  • slurred speech
  • smell of chemicals.
  • spots or rash around the mouth
  • empty containers like aerosol cans or bottles of glue or gas
  • rags or plastic bags stained or smelling of chemicals
  • paint stains on face, hands, or clothing


Signs of Heroin and Other Opiate Use

  • very small pupils, like dots
  • glassy-eyed look
  • being very drowsy or falling asleep unexpectedly
  • slurred or slow speech
  • shallow breathing
  • itching and scratching
  • lines on the arms (track marks) or other parts of the body from injecting heroin
  • burnt tinfoil, spoons or needles (heroin)
  • empty pill packets (prescription drugs)
  • prescription drugs going missing
  • blood stains on clothes or bloody tissues (heroin injecting)

Your Guide to Emergency Situations

  • Call an ambulance on 911 and put them in the recovery position.
  • Be careful when moving them in case they have needles in their pocket.
  • Stay with them.
  • If you know what they have taken, tell the medics. Save any pill bottles or other containers for the medics to help them know what they have taken.