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Naida Rutherford, a South Carolina-based coroner, urges parents to be “nosy” and proactively inquire about their children’s habits, which will aim to identify any behaviors that may pose risks to their safety and health. The health advocate offered tips to help parents indicate if their child may be engaging in risky behavior.

In Rutherford’s raw and honest Instagram video posted March 10, the Richland County coroner advised parents to be vigilant about their child’s whereabouts and everyday habits as children lie “every single day” about some of the dangerous or unhealthy activities they may be doing outside of the home such as drugs or substance abuse.

“They do not tell you everything. I don’t care how much you think you and your child are close. They don’t tell you everything, especially when they get older,” Rutherford said.

“They don’t tell you that they may have multiple sexual partners. They don’t tell you that they may be doing drugs on the weekend. They don’t tell you that they take a bump of cocaine so that they can party hardy. They don’t tell you that they smoked marijuana laced with other drugs and chemicals because they want to get high. They don’t tell you everything.”

Toward the end of the video, the healthcare consultant delivered a tough word of advice for parents who may think their child “would never” engage in drug use or develop dangerous habits.

“And for all of the parents that say, ‘My child would never,’ well your child never nevered like they nevered before. And now they’re in the Never Never Land of my morgue. Parents, be nosy. Ask questions, but just understand that they don’t tell everything.”

In her caption, Rutherford provided life-saving tips for parents to spot unusual behavior in their children.

The Richland County coroner penned that parents must watch for drastic shifts in their child’s mood or behavior. She noted that withdrawal from family and friends or a significant decline in academic performance could be a sign of substance abuse or drug overuse.

“Bloodshot eyes, unusual odors on their breath or clothing, changes in appetite or sleep patterns” along with weight fluctuation are also common signs connected to drug and substance misuse.

She advised, “If your child starts neglecting activities they once enjoyed or responsibilities, such as chores, homework, or extracurricular activities, it could be a red flag.”

Parents should also be wary if their child becomes “excessively secretive” about their whereabouts or  hesitant to disclose details about their social circle  —  especially a new group of friends who may “exhibit risky behaviors.”

The Richland County coroner added, “Keep an eye on any unexplained or sudden financial problems your child may have, such as frequent requests for money without a valid reason. Remember, these signs are not definitive proof of drug use, but they can serve as warning signs.”

Rutherford’s helpful video comes at a critical time, as drug-related overdose deaths appear to be on the rise among American teens. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, there was a 109% surge in drug overdose fatalities from 2019 to 2021 among adolescents aged 10–19. Notably, deaths related to illicitly manufactured fentanyls (IMFs) rose by 182%. Opioids were implicated in about 90% of the fatalities, with IMFs contributing to 84% of cases, and nearly a quarter of those deaths involved counterfeit pills.


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