ZocdocAnswersCan you tell by looking at your child's eyes if he is taking drugs?

Question

Can you tell by looking at your child's eyes if he is taking drugs?

Recently, I've noticed a number of changes in my 14-year-old son, and I am concerned that he may be taking drugs. I don't want to confront him without some evidence, however. One of the changes I've noticed is that his eyes are often red, and it seems as though he has trouble focusing on me when he is talking to me. Is this a sign that he is on drugs, or could it indicate another type of health condition that I should be concerned about?

Answer

So sorry that you have to be concerned about this in your son, and hope for the best. It is important to discuss this with your son's pediatrician. Yes, eye changes can certainly be a sign of drug use, as many drugs will cause some injection (or redness) of the white part of your eyes. As you suggest, however, it is impossible to say definitively that his red eyes are from drug use, as things as common as seasonal allergies can often have a very similar appearance, as can myriad other factors that may need medical attention. The key is that you are concerned about the potential for drug use, and you certainly have not only the right but the duty to have an open discussion about the topic. That is one of the best things that a youth can have to protect them is an involved parent who takes the time to have these tough discussions. While it can be difficult, it can also help your son to know that you are aware and care enough to engage. Your son's pediatrician will also likely prove to be an excellent source of assistance, as he or she is trained to help with these matters and provide testing if needed. Please speak with your doctor or your son's pediatrician for guidance.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.