I'm worried about my brother
Question: I live across the country from my family, and I see them on holidays and for a few weeks each summer. I am not that involved with them, because of distance, but last time I was home I noticed my brother seemed like he was high. His eyes were red, and he smelled like pot. During my stay he seemed to have real mood swings. When I mentioned it to my mom, she said I was imagining things. I blew it off, but then last time I called he answered and seemed really out of it. Am I over-reacting, or should I be concerned?
Answer: It is never bad to be concerned for your family, especially as far as drugs go. Drug abuse has been in a steady decline among youth, with the notable exception of abuse of prescription drugs. Marijuana has somewhat leveled off. So, while kids in general seem to be using drugs less, this does not mean your brother is part of this statistic.
You have mentioned several of the symptoms that often accompany drug use, but they are also symptoms of many other teenage activity and behavior. Teens tend to not get enough sleep on a regular basis, which many account for red eyes. Teens tend to hang out in groups, at clubs, and in confined spaces such as bowling alleys, sport courts, etc. This close confinement can be the cause of the scent of pot on his clothes. Mood swings can also be attributed to drugs, but it can also be attributed to normal teenage drama.
So what should you do? Honestly, there is not much you can do. You have no hard and fast proof. You are not his legal guardian, and so your options are limited.
Your best option is to once again appeal to your parent. If your mother does not want to listen, consider talking to your father. The thing is, many parents are not as familiar with drug use and drug abuse, and the signs and symptoms that come with it as others. So, educate them, and let them come to the same conclusion as you did on their own if they should. Again, you do not see your brother often, and it may have been an isolated incident of drug use, or you may have misread the signals. So, educate the people who are around him daily, and let them determine if there is something they should be worried about.
How do you educate them? Often people won't hear things that they don't want to believe. So, do not just tell them, show them. Show them reports from professional researchers or doctors. Show them videos about watching out for teen drug use. The Internet is a good resource for you to help educate your parents, as you do not have to be there. Send them an email link, or give them a URL to visit.
If all else fails, consider talking to your brother personally. Let him know how you feel about drug abuse, and that if they need someone to talk to, or help that you are there.