Do You Suspect a Student is Using Drugs?

As teachers, we all have contact with students each and every day. In many cases, we see sides of students that not even their parents see. And in some cases, we may see signs that students are abusing drugs or alcohol. They may even have a substance use disorder. So what can we do in these situations?

Before you take any type of action, confirming that the issue exists is the first thing you need to do. If you have a brand new group of students, you may not be familiar with what you can expect from them. So you won’t necessarily know what normal behavior is.

That being said, there are a few things to look out for that may be signs of substance abuse:

  • Poor academic performance, especially if they previously had a good academic performance
  • Skipping classes
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and appearance
  • Being uninterested in school and other activities
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Impaired speech or confusion
  • Irritability or exhibiting violent behavior
  • Scent of alcohol or marijuana

If you suspect that a student is probably misusing a substance, the first thing you need to do is consult your policy. Each school may have a slightly different policy for this situation, especially depending on what state you are teaching in, etc. You’ll want to take a look at your school’s policy to see how to proceed. In some cases, a school’s policy will not want you to reach out to the student or parents.

There are certain things that you can do to address substance abuse to the whole class. For example, you can talk to them about recovery resources that may be available. You can also have encouraging and open discussions with the whole class.

There are always steps you can take to help your students. The best thing to do is to make sure they have all of the important information so that they can make well educated decisions.

Recovery Resources

The Recovery Village in Washington

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

SMART Recovery