As your child prepares to go to college, you probably have many worries. Most parents do. You worry that your child will eat right, make good friends and stay away from drugs. These are all sound concerns.

From afar, there’s only so much you can do about each of these things. But it’s important to look for signs of substance abuse because addiction in college students can be a major threat to their future.

If you notice any of the following signs, talk to your child about the potential problem.

Warning signs of addiction

Because some of the warning signs can also be explained by typical teenage behavior, it’s important to look at your child as a whole. Is he or she exhibiting any of these signs to the extreme? Or does your child show multiple signs consistently? If so, these should be cause for concern.

Change in school performance

If your child was an A student in high school and is flunking everything in the first semester of college, it may be a sign of substance abuse. If your child went away to college, he or she now has freedoms like never before. And regardless of performance, if your child is skipping classes, it’s possible that he or she may be “partying” a little too hard.


If your child suddenly seems depressed and withdrawn, this could be a sign of addiction. Oftentimes, college students take drugs or drink alcohol to help them fit in and be social. They also may take drugs to help with their academic performance. This explains why Adderall and Ritalin abuse is so common on college campuses. But once addiction takes hold, depression and isolation are common signs. Your student may go from being the life of the party to being a loner. If you think your college student is depressed, talk to her about it. Whether or not she has an addiction, she may need counseling.

Asking for money often

It’s not uncommon for a college student to ask his parents for some cash, but if it starts happening more often than you’d expect, question the behavior. Find out exactly where the money is going before you give extra and only give what you feel is reasonable for your child’s situation. If your child is addicted, he may not be honest about why he needs the money. He may also become manipulative if you say no. Look for these patterns to determine whether his requests are earnest. If you have any questions, you can always insist that your child get a part-time job for extra money.

If you suspect that your college student is suffering from addiction, address the problem immediately. It’s better for your child to miss a semester or two than to continue with a dangerous addiction. As someone uses addictive substances, the body becomes more and more reliant on them to get by. So, the longer your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, the more difficult it will be for them to recover.


How to Spot the Warning Signs of Addiction in Your College Student