Teen Drug Use Warning Signs

Adolescence is a complicated time for most people. Being a teenager, especially in today’s society, is hard to navigate. There’s a lot of pressure on today’s teenagers: pressure to perform academically, pressure to excel at extracurricular activities, pressure to be well liked and accepted by their peers, pressure to figure out who they are and the direction they want their life to take.

Unfortunately, many teens turn to drugs and alcohol to help cope with this challenging time. Whether it’s to alleviate the pressure that they feel from their parents, to fit in with their peers or just to satisfy a curiosity, a large percentage of teens will use drugs and alcohol before they leave high school.

This is particularly frightening because numerous studies confirm that drug and alcohol use during the teenage years drastically increases the risk of addiction later on in life, due to the immaturity of the teenage brain (particularly the part of the brain responsible for impulse control). As parents, it’s important to do everything in your power to combat potential drug use.


Warning signs of teen drug use


In order to combat teen drug use, we first have to be able to recognize it. While every child is different, there are some tell tale signs that parents should look out for to determine whether their child might be abusing drugs or alcohol:

    • Loss of interest in activities that they previously enjoyed
    • Sudden increase or decrease in appetite
    • Weight fluctuations
    • Bloodshot or watery eyes
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Lying and deceitfulness
    • Spending more time away from the house
    • Disregard for authority/family rules
    • Stealing/disappearance of valuable items from the home
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Decreased academic performance
    • Trouble controlling emotions
    • Disregard for responsibilities at home, school or in the community
    • Disappearance of prescription medication from the home
    • Finding drug paraphernalia in your child’s belongings


What to do if you suspect your child is using drugs or alcohol


If you observe some of the above signs or you have a suspicion that your child may be using drugs or alcohol, it is important not to panic. There are numerous resources available to help you open up a dialogue with your child and get them the help they may need.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has a great resource center for parents to help them deal with teen drug abuse: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/parents

If you think your child has a more serious problem, then reaching out to an addiction specialist or recovery community might be the best step for you and your family.



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