Teen Drug Use Warning Signs

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Times have changed in society. You can see this in the addiction rates and drug use of our children. A recent study shows that by the time they reach the 8th grade, 28% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15% have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5% have used marijuana. Read on to learn about teen drug use and warning signs.

Additionally, half of the high school seniors don’t think it’s damaging to try cocaine or crack once or twice.

When it comes to prescription drugs, almost 2 in 10 12th graders reported using drugs not prescribed to themselves.

There are many risks and effects of using drugs, especially as our bodies are developing.

If you are a parent who wants to be proactive in knowing what the effects and warning signs of drug use are, this article will show you some of the risks and signs of teen drug use.

What Are the Risks?

There are many common factors that contribute to the likelihood of addiction. These include homelife, peer pressure, and social situations. But before we delve into the indicators for drug and alcohol abuse, it’s crucial to bring attention to the risks associated with abusing drugs, particularly during the adolescent years.

Brain Development

Brain structure, neurocognitive abilities, and function alterations are all associated with substance use during adolescence.

When it comes to alcohol use amongst teens, abnormalities have been documented in white matter quality, brain structure volume, and activation to cognitive tasks with as little as 1 to 2 years of heavy drinking (20 drinks per month). 

Drug and alcohol use during these adolescent years can directly affect the growth and development of teens and pre-teens, especially when discussing their brain development.

Adult Health Problems

In addition to developmental issues, teen substance abuse often results in the development of health problems into adulthood, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Sleep disorders
  • High blood pressure

These effects can have harmful implications for occupational, academic, and social functioning.

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Risky Behavior

Additionally, teen drug experimentation and addiction also increases illicit and dangerous behaviors.

Dangerous driving, unsafe needle use and unprotected sex are examples of some of the risky behavior that coincides with teen drug and alcohol use.

Indicators of Teen Substance Abuse

There are many signs and behaviors that indicate your child might have a drug or alcohol abuse problem.

Here are some of the physical indicators that your teen or adolescent might have a problem with drugs or alcohol:

  • Difficulty staying focused
  • Rapid weight loss or gain
  • Pupils that are smaller or larger than usual
  • Changes in attitude or mood
  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Poor hygiene
  • Cold, sweaty palms (or shaking hands)
  • Change in appearance
  • Track marks on legs or arms
  • Paranoia, irritability, fidgeting, anxiety
  • Nosebleeds or frequent runny nose
  • Headaches
  • Sores around the mouth
  • Extremely hyperactive or tired
  • Puffy, swollen face

Some of the behavioral indicators that your teen might have a drug problem are:

  • Isolating from others (especially family)
  • Asking for money (frequently)
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Breaking or ignoring curfew
  • Slipping grades and school work
  • Locked bedroom doors
  • Making excuses
  • Stealing
  • Damaging relationships with friends or family
  • Abandoning long-time friends
  • Losing interest in activities or hobbies
  • Resisting feedback or discipline

Some of these behaviors and signs are more obvious than others, and not every symptom is enough of an indicator on its own.

As a parent, it’s vital to be aware and make an effort to take an interest in your child and their well-being. It can seem hard to do so if they exhibit little interest in their family.

Without revealing your suspicion, there are some things you can do to monitor their behavior.

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How Do I Know If My Child Is Using Drugs?

The business of raising a family, coupled with the technology available today, can make it difficult to see the warning signs of teen or adolescent drug use. In order to educate parents, we have put together this list of methods for determining if your child is exhibiting signs of teen substance abuse. We hope that they are beneficial to helping us all determine teen drug use warning signs.

Look for Changes in Mood

Aside from being a “normal” teenager, is your child showing any signs of drunk or drugged behavior?

Do you notice they are unusually clumsy after a night out with friends? Are they sullen and withdrawn?

Use Your Nose and Look in Their Eyes

Every time your teenager comes home, try to have a face-to-face conversation. If that isn’t possible, at least go for a hug. If they’ve been smoking or drinking, you’ll be able to smell it on their clothes, hair, and breath.

Take a close look at their eyes as you use your sense of smell.

Are their eyes bloodshot or heavy-lidded? Are their pupils dilated? Do you notice any flushed or red color to the cheeks?

Check Out the Car

Are there any new dents or scratches on the car? Are there suspicious smells or paraphernalia anywhere?

Check for evidence rolling around on the floor or hidden in the glove box.

Be Mindful of Secrecy

Do their plans always seem fishy? Are they hesitant to give you a summary of the movie they saw?

When you reprimand them, do they lash out and say it’s none of your business?

These are all signs they could be hiding something.

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Should You Search Their Things?

While it may seem like an invasion of privacy, searching a teen’s room is often a necessary step in confronting substance abuse.

Some of the spots you might want to check are:

  • Small boxes (jewelry or pencil)
  • In makeup cases
  • Between clothes and in dresser drawers
  • Under the bed
  • In between books on a bookshelf
  • Inside other OTC medicine containers (Advil, Motrin, etc.)
  • Inside empty snack boxes or candy bags

Teens are incredibly resourceful when it comes to hiding spots. If you feel silly looking for something, remind yourself that teen substance abuse can have detrimental effects on the brain that carry through to adulthood. You are the parent and it is your job to protect them. Sometimes even from themselves. There’s nothing wrong with standing up for and making a choice to help your child get help.

Don’t Underestimate the Effects of Using Drugs

Suspecting that your beloved teen is using drugs or alcohol is a scary thought. But once you have that suspicion, it’s vital to act on it before the effects of using drugs take a severe toll on your growing child.

Look for telltale signs and behaviors that your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol. Remind them how much you love and support them and how important it is for them to get help, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Do you want to know how we can help your teen recover in a unique environment you won’t find anywhere else? Contact us today!

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At San Diego Sober Living we want to be a part of your recovery and new life. Our program offers proven treatment methods to help a person recover mentally, physically and spiritually. 

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