For high school this is pretty straightforward, so I’m not going into it much. Is your child/young adult a lone wolf? Maybe one friend, two at the most? Or do they seem to enjoy being alone too much?
Don’t be afraid to ask their teachers how they interact socially. Isolation is a major red flag when it comes to addiction, though it often appears in the later stages. This was true in my case. Until the age of 16 or 17, I had plenty of friends. Once substance abuse took hold, those friends wisely walked away.
For college, talk to your young scholar on the phone. Ask about their friends, what they do together. Is your daughter in a study group? Is your son keeping his commitment to the debate team?
For high school, does your teenager seem to become emotionally volatile? Does he or she just generally demonstrate a bad attitude?
My coaches in high school sports always called me “uncoachable.” I had an attitude that I knew better, and I let them know it. It’s not uncommon for active addicts to play the expert-on-many-subjects card.
A sudden change in consistent attitude is a dead giveaway that something is awry, and it often involves drinking and drugs.
For college, when you make check-up calls, does your loved one grow standoffish? Do responses to your questions often involve runaround answers or accusations you pry too much? Sure, they’ll assert independence. But an open relationship with even one parent can be the difference between addiction and addiction averted.