There's no hard evidence that the children of working mothers are more at risk for problems with drugs and/or alcohol abuse than are the children of mothers who work at home full time, all other factors being equal.
In her new book, "Kids, Alcohol & Drugs" (Ballantine), Ruth Maxwell advises parents to confront their children immediately if they observe any of the following warning signs:
* "Alcohol on a child's breath, slurred words, stumbling, staggering gait, unfocused eyes, rambling or repetitive talk, vomitus with alcohol odor, blackouts."
* "Track marks (heroin); dilated pupils (cocaine); constricted pupils (heroin); reports from others of observed chemical use; snorting, smoking, swallowing or injecting a chemical; an overdose incident (comatose state following use)."
* "Nodding out; remnants of white powder on upper lip (cocaine); chronically red eyes (marijuana); a sweet, cloying marijuana odor on a child's clothes or in his room."
* "Nasal congestion, nosebleeds; behavior that seems wired, taut, strung out (cocaine); brown-stained fingers (marijuana); bizarre paranoid suspicions (cocaine psychosis)."
* "Chronic lethargy (marijuana); unusual weight gain or loss; missing or watered-down parental alcohol supply."
* "Small cellophane packets with white powdery substance (cocaine); slightly larger cellophane packets with remnants of oregano-like leaves, stems, seeds."
* "Straight-edged razor blade (for lining up cocaine 'hit'); tiny spoon, often worn around neck (for snorting cocaine); small glass or plastic vial with brightly colored screw-on top (crack)."
* "Double bowl pipe (bottom for water, top for crack); small porcelain pipes (marijuana); bongs (tall, often brightly colored, plastic or brass water pipes for marijuana or hashish); cigarette rolling papers (for making marijuana roaches); roach clip (for holding marijuana cigarette)."
* "Incense (to cover marijuana odor); Visine or other eye drops (marijuana); breath deodorizers/gum (alcohol); pills of various shapes, sizes and colors; pea-sized chunks of whitish-gray soaplike substance (crack); syringe (for injecting cocaine, heroin, both)."
Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.