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Address Problem Behaviors

What to do if your child is experimenting with Drugs & Alcohol...

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence lists the signs and symptoms to look for as:

  1. Physical and health warning signs of drug abuse
    • Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
    • Frequent nosebleeds could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine)
    • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
    • Seizures without a history of epilepsy
    • Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
    • Impaired coordination, injuries/accidents/bruises that they won’t or can’t tell you about- they don’t know how they got hurt
    • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
    • Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.
  2. Behavioral signs of alcohol or drug abuse
    • Skipping class, declining grades, getting in trouble at school
    • Drop in attendance and performance at work- loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise- decreased motivation
    • Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates
    • Missing money, valuables, prescription or prescription drugs, borrowing and stealing money
    • Acting isolated, silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
    • Clashes with family values and beliefs
    • Preoccupation with alcohol and drug-related lifestyle in music, clothing and posters
    • Demanding more privacy, locking doors and avoiding eye contact
    • Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
    • Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities)
    • Using incense, perfume, air freshener to hide smell of smoke or drugs
    • Using eye drops to mask bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils
  3. Psychological warning signs of alcohol or drug abuse
    • Unexplained, confusing change in personality and/or attitude.
    • Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
    • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
    • Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appears lethargic or “spaced out.”
    • Appears fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.

One of the best places to seek help is your school nurse, counselor, or social worker. They can help you determine if teachers are sensing the same concerns. They can also help you identify resources in the community for help.

What to do if your child is feels unsafe at school...

Children may not tell you that they are being bullied. If they start to seem anxious about going to school, walking to the bus stop or school, or doing the things they usually do, they may be experiencing harassment, intimidation, or bullying.

If you suspect your child is being bullying but your child is reluctant to open up, you may try taking a different approach to the issue. Use scenarios from TV, books, or videos to bring up the subject. Ask open-ended questions about the topic.

In younger children, play is both telling and therapeutic. Watch for more aggressive behavior in their play and artwork. These can be signs of something that is happening to them. It might be helpful to get down on the floor and act out scenarios and their resolution through play rather than lecture.

Periodically reassure them that adults at school are there to help them stay safe and resolve conflict. Encourage them to speak to a trusted adult at school if they are being bullied.

If the situation does not resolve itself, you may need to visit the school to speak to a counselor, assistant principal, or school nurse.

In extreme cases where your child is being physically hurt, and if there is no resolution of the issue, the local authorities may need to be notified.

What to do if your child is beginning to show signs of anti-social behavior...

Drs. Duncan Clark, et al defined antisocial behaviors as “any acts that violate social rules and the basic rights of others. They include conduct intended to injure people or damage property, illegal behavior, and defiance of generally accepted rules and authority, such as truancy from schools.” They further note that “When childhood antisocial behaviors exceed certain defined thresholds— the diagnostic criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM–IV) (American Psychiatric Association 1994)—the child is considered to have CD or ODD. Together with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), these two disorders are classified as “disruptive behavior disorders” in the DSM–IV.”

The article by Clark and all is included in the resource section for your review should you wish more information on childhood antisocial behaviors. In this article, they give the diagnostic criteria for Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

If you think your child’s behavior is shifting toward aggression, speak to your child pediatrician first. He or she will be able to help you understand these diagnoses and evaluate your child’s behavior more objectively.


Substance Abuse Prevention Toolkit

The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services has partnered with the Ohio Department of Education and Drug Free Action Alliance to develop the attached  toolkit and activity guide to help you share drug free messages in your classroom.


Assist in School Emergencies
Childhood Antisocial Behavior
Make a Difference, Talk to Your Children about Alcohol

Related Links

National Center for Alcohol and Drug Addiction
The Partnership at Drugfree.org