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Drugs Parents Should Be Aware Of

Updated on February 8, 2013
Vicodin | Source

Drugs in Schools

Drugs and alcohol are a part of every student’s life beginning in Middle School.

Not every student is using drugs but they are all being exposed to them and can attain them at any time.

It is imperative that parents and loved ones are aware of what teenagers and pre-teens are around on a daily basis.

Just Experimenting or Something More?

Many people believe that drug and alcohol experimenting is a normal part of growing up.

The staggering number of lives being lost to addiction and physical and biochemical destruction may be leading people to rethink that position.

Equal Opportunity

Drugs and Alcohol don’t discriminate. This risk is very real for all colors and social classes.

The richest and poorest kids are all given the exact same opportunity to ruin their lives.

Protecting Our Kids

Teenagers and Pre-teens don’t have the foresight or biological maturity to truly understand the consequences of their actions.

When children use drugs and drink alcohol they are jeopardizing their health, their futures, hurting their families and putting their lives in danger. They can’t appreciate the gamble they are taking.

Teens count on the people who love them the most to guide them and protect them, even from themselves.

A good place to start is to be aware of what the potential threat to our children is and what the signs look like.

Drugs To Be Aware Of

There are so many drugs flowing through schools from 6th grade through 12th grade that it’s impossible to identify everyone.

The following is a list of the most readily accessible drugs and some signs of use to look for.

Beer | Source


Alcohol is the most popular and the most accessible drug teens and pre-teens use. 40% of 8th graders, 66% of 10th graders and 75% of 12th graders have admitted to drinking alcohol.

Kids can get it from their parents or friends’ homes, school or family members.

The earlier the exposure to alcohol, the higher risk they have of becoming dependent as a young adult.

Alcohol is a depressant which is the opposite of most of the drugs teens are exposed to. It can lower inhibitions and motivation which will cause the user to do things and say things they wouldn’t normally do or say.

Signs Of Intoxication

A few physical signs of alcohol use are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Strong alcohol odor
  • Random emotional outburst
  • Delayed reactions
  • Talking loudly
  • Repeating themselves
  • Short term memory is impaired

Marijuana; Cannabis

The cannabis plant is dried and smoked for recreational reasons or spiritual purposes.

Marijuana is made up of more than 400 compounds, the most dominant being a psychoactive agent called THC. The remaining compounds are known to cause sensory effects.

It has a reputation for not being physically and/or emotionally addictive but an extensive amount of research has proven otherwise. Although Marijuana carries a relatively low risk for dependence among adults, teenagers have a high risk of becoming addicted.

Signs of Marijuana Use

The most common physical signs that someone has smoked marijuana are:

  • Blood shot eyes
  • Lack of motivation
  • Sleepy appearance
  • Inappropriate emotions, like burst of laughter or random declarations of affection
  • Increased appetite
  • Problems with short term memory

Informing Kids About Drugs

Do Your Kids Know How Dangerous These Drugs Can Be?

See results

Spice; K-2

Spice is a blend of leaves and synthetic chemicals that is presented as a legal alternative to marijuana.

Unlike marijuana, the effects of spice cause it’s users to hallucinate, have panic attacks, become extremely nauseous, become violent and experience many other unpleasant symptoms.

Despite these results, many users find themselves craving the drug shortly after using it one time.

It is highly addictive and available for anyone to purchase in many tobacco and convenience stores. This drugs popularity and known dangers are growing every day.

Signs of Spice Use

The physical signs that someone may be high on spice are:

  • Panic attack
  • Vomiting
  • Psychotic episode
  • Raging
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive coughing

Ecstasy; X

Ecstasy is an illegal man made drug which is a stimulant and a hallucinogenic. It is often referred to as the Club Drug due to its popularity at Rave’s and other dance clubs. It is impossible to pinpoint the exact ingredients of the various brands of ecstasy because it isn’t regulated by any government standard or subject to regular testing.

Ecstasy pills come in many different colors and usually have a marking on them to identify individual suppliers.

This drug is odorless, colorless and is water soluble so it can be added to any liquid beverage without the person ever knowing.

Signs of Ecstasy Use

Some physical signs of ecstasy use are:

  • Rapid eye movement
  • Intense concentration on lights and noises
  • Dry mouth, extreme thirst
  • Uncharacteristically affectionate
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Jaw clenching
  • Confusion
  • Sweating or chills
  • Dilated pupils

Cocaine; Crack

Cocaine is derived from the Coca plant. It produces a powerful psychoactive and stimulant effect in the user.

This drug is highly addictive and can cause dependency on the user after just one or two exposures.

Signs of Crack Use

The most common physical signs of cocaine use are:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Extreme energy bursts
  • Distinct change in appetite
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nose bleeds


Vicodin is a narcotic prescription blend of acetaminophen and hydrocodone and is prescribed for moderate to severe pain.

Those who abuse vicodin for recreational use will build up a tolerance quickly and need to dramatically increase the dosage.

One popular alternative to taking many pills per day is crushing them up and snorting them. This method will intensify the sensation for the user and increase the life threatening risks as well.

Signs of Vicodin Use

The common signs that someone is using Vicodin are:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Decreased attention span
  • Dizziness

OxyContin; Oxycodone; Percocet; Percodan

Oxycontin is a time released version of oxycodone. Percocet is a blend of Oxycodone and acetaminophen.

When acetaminophen is added, the effects of the oxycodone are increased. These are narcotic pain relievers that are significantly stronger than Vicodin.

They can do much more physical and psychological damage and the risk of dependence is higher.

Signs of Narcotic Use

The physical signs that these narcotics are being used are:

  • Extremely small pupils
  • Weight loss, low appetite
  • Itchy arms and face
  • Dazed, slow to respond, staring blankly
  • Constipation
  • Dizzy
  • Dry mouth
  • Droopy eyes and black circles

Methamphetamine; Meth; Desoxyn

Meth is a street manufactured stimulant that was originally inspired by amphetamine. Both amphetamines and meth are highly addictive with serious withdrawal symptoms experienced after they are used for just a short period of time.

Meth has a more profound effect of the central nervous system therefore is even more addictive and dangerous than other amphetamines.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Meth to be given to adults and children who suffer from ADHD. This prescription is called Desoxyn.

Signs of Meth Use

The most obvious and common physical symptoms of methamphetamine use are;

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Lack of sleep
  • Audio hallucinations
  • Unprovoked violence and Physical outbursts
  • Skin color is dull with dry patches
  • Teeth and gums deteriorate at an extreme rate


Heroin is an opiate derived from morphine. This is an extremely powerful and addictive drug.

The user feels a rush of euphoria right after using because it crosses the blood brain barrier at a really fast rate. This feeling is unmatched by anything that can be experienced anywhere else and the first rush is the best rush.

Even the most levelheaded, intelligent people will find themselves searching for that rush again and again and again. Unfortunately all they find is a very destructive road to addiction and eventually an excruciating withdrawal process that may never subside completely.

Signs of Heroin Use

Some physical signs that someone is using heroin are:

  • Extremely small pupils
  • Red eyes and runny nose, similar appearance as allergies but doesn’t go away
  • Dazed appearance
  • Head nods as if it’s very heavy
  • Legs are week and rubbery
  • Lack of appetite, weight loss
  • Tired at unusual times
  • May stare at nothing


Methadone is a narcotic pain reliever that is frequently given to heroin addicts to reduce the pain associated with withdrawals.

It is popular among teens and pre-teens who aren’t battling a current addiction to heroin or other opiates but simply take it for recreational purposes.

Methadone is highly addictive in its own right. There is a serious risk of overdosing when experimenting with methadone and detox needs to be medically supervised

Signs of Methadone Use

Some of the common signs that someone is using methadone are:

  • Weight gain
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • Random sweating
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Rash or hives
  • Agitation and mood swings

Adderall; Speed

Adderall is pure amphetamine that is prescribed for some people who have ADHD or Narcolepsy. It is also enormously popular with high school and college students who don’t have a valid medical condition.

Adderall is a brand name for something that has been around for generations, speed. It makes the user more alert, wired and ambitious.

Unfortunately it is also highly addictive and destructive to the brain. Prolonged use and misuse can lead to permanent brain damage, severe depression or death.

Did You Know?

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Signs of Adderall Use

Some of the physical signs that someone is using Adderall are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Uncharacteristically high energy and speaking quickly
  • Decreased sleep
  • Over achieving by getting many things done even if they aren’t done correctly
  • Followed by..
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Stomach pain
  • Staying awake for days, then sleeping for days

Home Drug Test Kit
Home Drug Test Kit | Source

The Reality Of Availability

*It is very important for all families to realize that Adderall, Ritalin, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet and many more drugs can be purchased by anyone on-line without a prescription.

Availability isn’t a problem for anyone who chooses to experiment with drugs or sell them to others.

Be Aware and Informed

Please note that this is only a brief overview of each drug and their symptoms given as a means to simply inform readers of their existence.

There is more detailed information about the dangers and possible side effects available. Please reach out to a Certified Treatment Facility or Drug and Alcohol Counselor for more information if needed about any specific drug mentioned here.


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    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Very well put Chrissy! I sincerely hope things are much better with your brother and your family. :)

    • Chrissy Allen profile image

      Chrissy Allen 

      6 years ago from Pleasant Grove, Utah

      Mary, my little brother was a druggie during the majority of his pre=teen to the age of 17 - 18. At first you see the little differences, and in my case my parents believed him. Staying up to late, not enough sleep, over did it with skateboarding today, the basic lies. This is where my parents should have taken notice not later. Its hard to admit your child has an addiction because I saw my parents deal with it on a daily basis. My life was affected also by my brother's choices. I know this sounds selfish, but my Senior year in High School, I was being presented with a full ride scholarship at one of my band concerts from the director of the Music Department from the University. My Mom had fallen on the ice outside of the school on her way in fractured her leg, and my Dad followed the ambulance to the ER, I understood. My Dad told my brother to sit in the front row with the camcorder recording everything because they wanted to see everything that they were going to miss. He said o.k. Dad. I saw him set up right before I went on stage to check to make sure he was still there. I come out with the band, get the presentation underway, I looked down and my brother had taken off. 3 days later he turns up said he recorded it, but he lost the tape, then the story comes out that he called a friend to pick him up and they went to a rave for two days and he thought he was only gone for 1 night. The camcorder recorded every moment of his drug filled weekend. If you suspect something then trust yourself and get to the bottom of it. Don't wait, that is the mistake my parents admit to making to this day. You know your child the best, so go with your gut and find the problem and nip it in the bud before it goes too far.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      6 years ago from Planet Earth

      This should be distributed to all parents and all educators - it's extremely useful and important information! I feel very inadequate regarding this subject - I honestly don't know what to look for. And, as you point out, parent's don't want to believe it's happening. Voted up!

    • Chrissy Allen profile image

      Chrissy Allen 

      6 years ago from Pleasant Grove, Utah

      Robin I know that there seems to be an explosion of new drugs available since we were teenagers, but in reality its the same drug but enhanced for a much bigger high that they are craving. A lot of the tragedies that we see are of people who think they are invincible. For example my friend was helping out an old schoolmate by trying to help him get pain killers legally. Once he had them instead of popping the Percocet like you should, he would cut it with Xanax bars and snort it. He thought he was always going through withdrawals but he was not his body accepted snorting as a best choice to take the pills. 3 rehab stays later and still no real improvement. He blames the world for his addiction and now that he has been diagnosed with tachycardia because the stopped him cold turkey from the Pain Management Doctor. In my own opinion if he would have just taken the pills as they were prescribed for he would not be in this current situation. What I am saying is this generation use the same drugs as in the past but has learned how to increase the effects without acknowledged the consequences of their action.

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thank you Chrissy for sharing that story with us! That is the harsh reality of this drug and more stories are surfacing everyday. Spice is much more powerful than people are aware of! I sincerely hope that tragic situation helps someone make a different choice for themselves and their families.

    • Chrissy Allen profile image

      Chrissy Allen 

      6 years ago from Pleasant Grove, Utah

      Spice is a drug that is commonly found in smoke shops here in Utah. It is quickly becoming a popular drug of choice. Also remember Spice is not only used by teenagers it is also used by adults. I have a personal story that shocked not only our family but the family of my Sister In Law. After being paroled distribution the spice in Vegas she was extradited back to Utah to wait trial, but while waiting for a trial date, on charges of negligent death. She drove around with him to the get the spice, and later that night while smoking more spice and the daughter in law completely ignore the warning signs that he was in trouble. He died on his way to the ER. This Spice craze can be very unpredictable but now we have to come up with a away to education not only students but the parents and make it not such a taboo discussion.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      I had never heard of Spice either. There are so many more drugs than when I was a teen; I'm sure there will be others when our daughters are in high school. It is a scary though. This is a great overview for parents. Thanks.

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      It's too bad that parents and kids don't know that before they get in that horrible situation. I wish I would have known and included that. Thank you so much and I hope everyone reads what you just wrote! :)

    • TahoeDoc profile image


      6 years ago from Lake Tahoe, California

      Working in a hospital, it's sad to see young kids come in under the influence of drugs, but it happens. Sometimes, they have injured themselves and need surgery right away. Then, their drug experimentation becomes even more serious. Some drugs (especially cocaine, meth and other stimulants) make the risk of death under anesthesia very real and frightening due to a type of reaction. It changes a routine surgery into a very risky one. Hard to explain that to parents who are already distraught.

    • adjkp25 profile image


      6 years ago from Northern California

      As a parent the shear length of this list frightens me. I am confident that our kids know how dangerous these drugs can be but I know it is only a matter of time before their paths will cross.

      Thanks for putting them all together in one location.

      Voted up and useful.

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thank you wayseeker for your comment and most importantly... what you do! Middle School teachers have patients and restraint that no one else can fully understand! :)

    • wayseeker profile image


      6 years ago from Colorado

      Being a middle school teacher, though the content of this hub is hardly comical, I had to laugh at this statement, "Teenagers and Pre-teens don’t have the foresight or biological maturity to truly understand the consequences of their actions." Ain't that the truth! They don't have the foresight to see what will happen five seconds from now, let alone days, months, and years.

      Still, I love them dearly, and this is an important topic for protecting them. I do teach much of this in our school, but if I'm the first one to explain it then it is coming FAR too late. For some, this turns out to be the case.

      This hub will not only serve as a place for some to understand how to begin taking precautions with their kids, but also a place for parents who are already noticing problems to start.

      An important piece. Well done.


    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thank you kerlynb! It's a lot to absorb but it's so important :)

    • kerlynb profile image


      6 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      All parents and guardians of teens have to read your hub. Shared then voted up and useful!

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thank you Glimmer Twin Fan, it's never to early to start talking about drugs. Little conversations build up and they will remember what they've learned and how you feel about it! :)

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      As a middle school teacher I bet you see it all! You have my full respect and appreciation, I don't think I could do what you do. :)

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      You are so right Robie! An ongoing conversations is best on this topic :)

    • carter06 profile image


      6 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Such important and useful info for parents, teachers & any working with young people...I liked what you say about ' so many lives lost is causing a rethink' I have often thought the same, does it have to be a normal part of life???

      Great job with this...Up, useful & definitely shared...

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      This is a really good piece of information for parents to have and to use in raising children. I believe parents are not aware of what is out there and how open kids are to experimenting with drugs, especially when it comes to peer influence. No child is exempt. Great hub and well researched. Voted up and shared.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      My child-rearing days are behind me....but this information is something we ALL need to have and keep updatd on. I thank you for this. It's a serious reality and constant concer for all adults who care about children's safety and health.

      Drugs ....their destruction, their frightens me ...always has. Once an individual gets deeply into them, it's so so difficult to help them see the way to recovery. In the meantime, lives are broken.

      Excellent ub! UP++

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      6 years ago

      Good information and well laid out. I really found this hub useful. My daughter is 9 and we have only started touching on the subject. They already have assemblies in elementary school on drugs (for the older kids). Good hub!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      As a middle school teacher, I can totally relate and agree with your article that most drugs are started now in the middle school years. I have had students who got kicked out of school for drug use. I am showing my age here, because at 35, my friends and myself didn't try anything more than alcohol or marijuana and I was already al out at the end of high school, not in middle school. In middle school, I was truly naïve and didn't know about drugs let alone use them. That said, your article is spot on for this generation now and very comprehnensive. Voted up and sharing.

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Oh my, oh my! I so need to talk to my children more about this. I have already, but this is one case when more is always better.

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      I agree with you completely! Many of our ailments are difficult to deal with but it can be done, some of those side effects are just intollerable.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I did find your hub quite useful. I have been on adderal for ADD and concerta too! The side effects are worse than the ailment themslves. Thank you for writing this and informing us!

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      That's crazy! I must look into that. Who says kids aren't smart? They know more about science than I do and they can be really motivated to discover things when it benefits them. If these same kids used their powers for good they could be enormously successful!

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      It is really hard to tell them everything they need to know before they need to know it. :) All we can do is our very best to keep them safe and healthy. Thank you pals002!

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      The middle school and high school years can be so hard for kids to navigate. It is always such a gift when they have their parents there to guide them and help eliminate some of the confusion. Unfortunately that is hard to do when we don't even know what we're up against. Your daughter is very lucky to have you looking out for her! :)

    • roxanne459 profile imageAUTHOR

      Roxanne Lewis 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thank you Nettlemere! Spice is growing here in the US at an alarming rate and it's scary stuff

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      Well done and quite informed. Have you heard about the latest craze amongst the kids? Distilling down hand sanitizer. Yes, hand sanitizer. High alcohol content, readily and easily available, doesn't take too long to create a consumable amount. What will they think of next?

    • pals002 profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing on the various drugs that our chid maybe exposed to outside. It is indeed the responsibility of us parents to ensure that we educate our child of the dangers of those drugs and the harm it can do to their bodies. Thumbs up for this hub.

    • nlpolak profile image

      Natasha L Polak 

      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Thanks for helping me stay on top of what to be aware of in the coming years with my daughter when she crosses over to middle school. I hadn't heard of a couple of the drugs, and it makes me so sad to see how much is done so early to harm the lives of today's young people! It is so important to start drug awareness as soon as they can comprehend what's good/bad for your body. So far, my daughter's learned about how alcohol is bad for you (but she equates it with unhealthy foods) since she sees people in our family drinking and is okay with adults having it in moderation.

    • Nettlemere profile image


      6 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Extremely useful to have all that information concisely and accessibly displayed. I've not heard of 'spice' before - it's alarming the things that people come up with to try to get around banned substances.


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