Every parent worries about their child but if you are worried that you noticed signs of drug abuse in your teen, you have an entirely different set of problems. Raising a teenager in today’s world is no easy feat. Social media makes things move faster than they ever have before. Information passes between the children and teens of “Generation Z” faster than we imagined even five years ago.
Signs of drug abuse in teens can be both obvious and subtle. If you don’t know what to look for, though, they may slip past your radar entirely. However, if you have an idea of the small things to keep an eye on you have a better chance of noticing early on.
Most teenagers tend to stick to drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana. While no teenager should ever use drugs, there are alarming in the rising popularity of harder drugs. Cocaine, ecstasy, and psychedelics find their way into some teens’ systems leading to worried parents nationwide.
If not addressed immediately, signs of drug abuse in teens tend to escalate quickly. The explosion in popularity of harder drugs makes it even more alarming. The sudden surge in the popularity of prescription painkillers in recent years has led to a drastic upswing in heroin use among young adults since 2007. Nearly 1 million people in the United States reported using heroin in 2016.
Thankfully, overall teenage drug use has declined slowly but steadily since the early 2000s. It is still smart for parents to look out for the following signs of drug abuse in teens:
1. Drastic shifts in personality or mood, either suddenly or over a period of time.
Drug use, especially heavy drug use or drug abuse, changes a person both physically and mentally. While their entire personality may not change, if you keep an eye out you might notice little shifts here and there like being more on edge or quick to lash out.
2. Sharp declines in academic or athletic performance, or both.
Dropping grades are a common telltale sign of something off. Especially if they are normally a straight-A student, if you find their grades drop suddenly, this might be a sign of drug use in your teen. If they play sports, you may notice a decline in their ability to perform or play as well as they did before.
3. Acting out abnormally.
Whether actively under the influence or not, drugs might make your teenager behave differently than normal. Short tempers or sudden flares of anger are common signs that something is off with your teenager.
4. Repetitive disciplinary measures.
You should be on the lookout if your child suddenly starts receiving disciplinary action at school. You will receive a notice of why they are in trouble if this happens. However, alcohol and drugs might not always be directly involved.
5. Skipping classes, leaving early, or missing full days of school.
Increased measures to keep students on campus and in class makes skipping out more challenging than it used to be. Still, you might receive a notice that your teenager skipped out on one or more classes during the day. Cutting school is never a good sign; be on the alert if you find this happening.
6. Changing their group of friends either once or multiple times.
It is normal for your child to experience shifting groups of friends as they grow and learn more about who they are. However, if they continuously change groups of friends with little explanation, this may be a reason to keep an eye out. Try to know who your child spends their time with.
7. Loss of interest in hobbies or activities they used to enjoy.
One of the most common signs of drug abuse in teens is the loss of interest in the things they used to love to do. When someone struggles with substance abuse, old hobbies end up forgotten in favor of drinking or using drugs. If you notice they are no longer as interested in their old hobbies, you may want to dig deeper.
8. Missing alcohol or prescription medication.
As a parent, you should always keep alcohol and prescription drugs away from your children. When looking for signs of drug abuse in teens, though, looking in your alcohol or prescription supply is a telling place to start. A trick to keep in mind when wondering whether your teenager is stealing your alcohol: hard liquor doesn’t usually freeze when put in the freezer. If you find your hard liquor supply freezes after a stay in the icebox, your teen might have replaced the liquor they drank with water.
9. Missing money, credit cards, or valuable possessions.
Drug addiction is an expensive habit and your child can’t ask you for money directly to purchase them. Some teenagers result in stealing things around the house to sell for drug money. Keep valuables like jewelry locked away if you worry that you might see signs of drug abuse in teens.
Always keep in mind how much cash you carry at a time so you will know if some go missing.
10. Finding substances in your teenager’s room.
The most telling sign of drug abuse in teens is stumbling upon their stash. If you find drugs or alcohol in your teenager’s room, it is without a doubt time to address the situation.
Signs of Drug Abuse in Teens: Getting Them the Help They Need
If you notice some of the above signs in your teenager, it is time to sit them down for a talk. You should work on maintaining an open line of communication between you and your child. When they feel comfortable talking with you, to begin with they will be more likely to honestly share what is going on.
Remember that many teenagers experiment and try different things as they grow up. Their alcohol or drug use may be a one-off in an attempt to try something new. But if these signs of drug abuse in teens continue to crop up as time passes, there is clearly something wrong.
If you feel comfortable doing so, sit them down and have an honest conversation about your own experiences. They might feel safer sharing what is going on if they know what you have gone through yourself.
When things are out of hand, though, and the signs of drug abuse in your teen are undeniable, they may need to attend addiction treatment. Teens who stop using drugs and alcohol early on have a better chance of leading healthy, normal lives in the long run. Facilities like Hawaii Island Recovery offer help specifically to individuals struggling with substance abuse to get them back on track.
Could your teen benefit from the aid of addiction treatment? Call our facility today at 877-721-3556 to learn more about the various programs offered at Hawaii Island Recovery. Get your teen the help they need today in order to live a life free from substances!