The teenage years can be difficult for many. More often than not, during these years kids are exposed to drugs, alcohol and tobacco in their everyday lives. Although not every teen chooses to try drugs or alcohol, many that do choose to try drugs end up abusing the substance – often to the point of dependencies that require detox and rehab treatment.
What are the symptoms or warning signs of teenage drug abuse?
It can be difficult for a parent to know if their teen is definitely abusing drugs. Teens often display what may appear to be warning signs when they are in fact not abusing drugs or alcohol. However, it is important that parents educate themselves, and when they see several warning signs present, to seek professional help before the problem becomes worse.
Signs at Home
- Disrespect for house rules
- Will not participate in family activities
- Won’t follow-through with responsibilities, such as chores
- Lashing-out, displaying anger and aggression
- Dramatic change to appetite and eating patterns
- Locking themselves in their room for long periods of time
- Lying about where they were or who they were with
- Valuable items seem to be missing
Signs at School
- Grades suddenly drop
- Ditching class or showing up late frequently
- Change of friends
- Not doing or turning in homework
- Poor attitude towards teachers
- Teacher has noticed a change, such as lack of class participation
- Smells like smoke or alcohol
- Extreme behavior – such as paranoia, anxiety, confusion
- Acts rebellious and defiant
- Sleeps too much, or not enough
- Loses or gains weight suddenly
- Suddenly depressed
- Lack of personal hygiene
How parents can help their teens stay away from drugs:
- Communicate. Teens that have an open relationship with their parents, and know how their parents are against drugs, are much less likely to try drugs.
- Educate. Many teens believe that experimentation is okay and view trying drugs or alcohol as “no big deal”. When teens are educated and informed of the dangers and risks, it lessens the chance of them experimenting with drugs.
- Be honest. Some parents are concerned that if they are honest about their own experiences with drugs that their kids won’t respect them; this is not the case. Studies have shown that when a parent is honest and expresses their concerns and own struggles, their child is actually more apt to listen.
- Don’t judge. If you want to have a good relationship with your teen, avoid becoming too judgmental. If your teen thinks you are too harsh or judgmental, they won’t come to you when there is an issue.
- Be smart. If you see the warning signs or your child has friends that display signs, be smart! Don’t leave them unsupervised, lock up your alcohol and prescription drugs and pay attention to the substances you have at your house.
Concerned your teen is already abusing drugs?
Don’t dismiss the warning signs. Become more involved in your teen’s life. Ask questions. Make sure you know where they are going and who they are going to be with. Set some rules. Talk to your teen. If he or she is using drugs, it’s time to confront them and offer help. If the problem is too big for you to handle on your own, seek-out professional help. Thousands of kids suffer from drug addiction, but there is help.
Check out our Teen Rehab page for more information on getting professional treatment for your teen.