Signs to Watch For

Some of the signs of alcohol abuse below may also be "normal" adolescent behavior. What is not "normal", however, is if more than a few of the following signs listed below are present. Such a combination of changes could indicate a serious problem.

Personality or Behavior Changes

  • Abrupt changes in mood or attitude
  • More irritable or argumentative
  • Sudden decline in attendance or performance at school
  • Rebelling against family rules
  • Sudden resistance to discipline at school
  • Uncharacteristic withdrawal from family or friends
  • "Nothing matters" attitude; no interest in school, sports or activities that used to be important
  • Physical, emotional, or mental problems
  • Memory lapses
  • Poor concentration
  • Needs more money-or money missing
  • Heightened secrecy about actions or possessions
  • Switching friends
  • Associating with a new group of friends whom your teen refuses to discuss
  • Finding alcohol in your child's room or belongings
Physical Changes
  • Less appetite or continually hungry
  • Loss or gain of weight
  • Less interested in appearance
  • Circles under eyes and pale skin, including face
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred or rapid speech
  • Smell of alcohol on breath, or sudden, frequent use of breath mints

Learn More:

Time To Act

Please visit by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America for an excellent online resource to help you learn more.

Booklet: Worried that your child is using alcohol or other drugs? An Action Guide for Maine Parents (PDF)


The Office of Substance Abuse Information & Resource Center is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at 1-800-499-0027 (TTY: 800-215-7604). Staff has listings of licensed treatment agencies in Maine, support group meetings, books, brochures, and more.

(Excerpts adapted from "Make a Difference" National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Keeping Your Kids Drug-Free" by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VI:Teens" February 2001 conducted by QEV Analytics and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.)

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