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Parental Screening for Substance Use in Teenagers

by Dr. Samir Parikh
Chairperson, National Mental Health Program
Fortis Healthcare

Title: Parental Screening Tool for Substance Use in Teenagers - Part 1


Instructions: “The following are statements describing a teenager’s behavioural patterns that their parents may observe. Please read each item carefully, and then mark your response based on whether you have observed such a behavioural pattern in your teenager in the past one month.”

Sl.No Question Yes Not sure No Domain
1 My teenager is having increased mood swings lately. 3 1 0 Emotional changes
2 My teenager has been more withdrawn socially than usual. 3 1 0 Social withdrawal
3 My teenager has been refusing others to clean their room or their belongings. 3 1 0 Guardedness
4 My teenager has become more secretive than usual. 3 1 0 Guardedness
5 My teenager seems to have become unusually lethargic or tired most of the time. 3 1 0 Impact on physical health
6 My teenager has become more disconnected from their previous group of friends. 3 1 0 Changes in peer group
7 My teenager has been staying in bed for prolonged hours of the day. 3 1 0 Disturbed sleep pattern
8 My teenager has been asking for more money than usual. 3 1 0 Unaccounted expenditure
9 My teenager has been generally appearing unkempt (neglecting their self-care and appearance). 3 1 0 Physical signs
10 My teenager has become more clumsy than usual. 3 1 0 Psychomotor changes
11 My teenager has been bunking or missing classes recently. 3 1 0 Absenteeism
12 My teenager has been avoiding/evading answering questions. 3 1 0 Guardedness
13 My teenager is not shutting or locking their door more often than usual. 0 1 3 Social withdrawal
14 My teenager has been spending time with a new friend group. 3 1 0 Changes in peer group
15 My teenager has been experiencing dizziness. 3 1 0 Impact on physical health
16 My teenager has been showing less interest in academics. 3 1 0 Impact on academic performance
17 My teenager has been regular at coaching or tuition. 0 1 3 Absenteeism
18 My teenager is having prolonged periods of sleeplessness. 3 1 0 Disturbed sleep pattern
19 My teenager has been making careless mistakes more than usual. 3 1 0 Cognitive changes
20 My teenager seems to be avoiding giving explanations for the recent expenditure of money.. 3 1 0 Unaccounted expenditure
21 My teenager appears to prefer being alone or isolated more than usual. 3 1 0 Social withdrawal
22 My teenager has not been easily irritable. 0 1 3 Emotional changes
23 My teenager has been trying to skip meals. 3 1 0 Changes in appetite
24 My teenager often appears to be lost in thoughts. 3 1 0 Cognitive changes
25 I have been noticing tremors or shakiness in my teenager's hands or legs. 3 1 0 Psychomotor changes
26 There has been a sudden increase in my teenager’s appetite. 3 1 0 Psychomotor changes
27 My teenager has suddenly increased unaccounted expenditures. 3 1 0 Unaccounted expenditure
28 I have been noticing unusual changes in my teenager’s eyes, like redness or dilation 3 1 0 Physical signs
29 Recently, there has been a significant change in my teenager’s weight. 3 1 0 Changes in appetite
30 There has been a noticeable increase in absenteeism from school or college. 3 1 0 Absenteeism
31 I have been noticing unusually strong smells on my teenager. 3 1 0 Physical signs
32 I have been noticing slurring of speech in my teenager. 3 1 0 Psychomotor changes
33 I have been noticing no changes in my teenager's sleep pattern. 0 1 3 Disturbed sleep pattern
34 There has been a noticeable decline in my teenager's academic performance. 3 1 0 Impact on academic performance
35 I do not find any noticeable change in my teenager's attention span. 0 1 3 Cognitive changes
36 There has been a recent change in the friend circle of my teenager. 3 1 0 Changes in peer group
37 There have been instances of frequent sickness reported by my teenager. 3 1 0 Impact on physical health
38 I have not been noticing any significant change in my teenager’s studies. 0 1 3 Impact on academic performance
39 There have been no sudden changes in my teenager’s moods without any triggers. 3 1 0 Emotional changes

Interpretation: The scoring of this scale requires the administration of both Part 1 and Part 2, both of which together lead to a total score. A total score of 16 or more is indicative of the need for further clinical evaluation and/or intervention. It is recommended to meet a mental health professional to build awareness and plan further interventions if indicated in this scale or otherwise.

Overall Domains:
  • Emotional changes
  • Cognitive changes
  • Psychomotor changes
  • Social withdrawal
  • Absenteeism
  • Changes in appetite
  • Disturbed sleep pattern
  • Changes in peer group
  • Physical signs
  • Impact on academic performance
  • Unaccounted expenditure
  • Guardedness
  • Impact on physical health

Title: Parental Screening Tool for Substance Use in Teenagers - Part 2 (Teacher Screening Tool for Substance Use in Teenagers)


Instructions: “The following are statements describing a teenager’s behavioural patterns that their teachers may observe upon the request of their parents. Please read each item carefully, and then mark your response based on whether you have observed such a behavioural pattern in the teenager in the past one month.”

Sl.No Question Yes Not sure No Domain
1 The teenager has been showing increased aggression in behaviour. +3 0 -3 Emotional changes
2 The teenager has been showing increased absenteeism at school. +3 0 -3 Absenteeism
3 The teenager has been showing a sudden increase or decrease in levels of physical energy. +3 0 -3 Physical signs
4 The teenager has been more socially withdrawn than usual. +3 0 -3 Social withdrawal
5 The teenager has been showing a significant decline in academic performance. +3 0 -3 Impact on academic performance
6 There has been a recent change in the teenager’s peer group; either disconnected from the previous friend group or joined a new friend group. +3 0 -3 Changes in peer group
7 The teenager has been distracted more than usual in the classroom. +3 0 -3 Cognitive changes

Scoring: Yes = +3; Not sure = 0; No = -3 to the corresponding domains of Part 1 of Parental Assessment

Interpretation: The scores on each domain marked by the teachers need to be interpreted in conjunction with the parental report on the same domain as per the Parental screening tool for substance use in teenagers.

Parental screening tool for substance use in teenagers
© 2024 by Dr. Samir Parikh is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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