Is your teenager using drugs? Make sure you know the symptoms of teen drug use and how to treat it, before it turns into a life-long addiction battle.
Teen drug use is a huge problem in today’s society, and this in turn has an effect on families as a whole. This growing problem is worldwide, and research has shown that at least 50% of all teens in high school have tried an addictive substance of some kind. The reasons for this increase in teenage drug use is in large part a result of the growing accessibility and social acceptance of drugs.
Drugs are more accessible now than they have ever been before, and the Internet is largely to blame for their range of availability. It has created an easy and free way for dealers and users to get hold of each other to buy and sell drugs, and this has resulted in a huge increase in teens that are able to dabble with drugs and alcohol.
Is My Teen Using Drugs?
Drugs and alcohol are not only more accessible, but they have become more socially acceptable, and it is often the case that if a teen does not partake in drug or alcohol use as recreational pastimes that they are then shunned by classmates and friends. Where drugs used to be associated with seediness or people who had very little ambition in life, they are now being touted as cool, and thus they have lost the level of shame and embarrassment that they used to be associated with. This increasing level of peer pressure is one of the main reasons for the growing numbers of teen drug addiction throughout the world. And as such, the questions that every parent is thinking remain: Is my teen using drugs? What signs do I look for to know for sure?
What are the Signs of Teen Drug Use?
There is no sure-fire way to immediately spot teen drug use, as some symptoms associated with teen drug use can be prevalent in a healthy teen who is merely hitting puberty. That being said, as a parent there are symptoms that you should be aware of that may point to drug addiction or abuse in your teenager. The signs of teen drug use manifest themselves in 3 different areas of your teenager’s life: in the home, at school and physically.
Drug Abuse Symptoms in the Home
Teen drug use will affect the teen’s home life and there are some symptoms that you should be aware of and watch carefully if your teenager starts to display them:
- Blatant disrespect for family rules and norms
- Lying about where they have been all day
- Verbally or physically aggressive
- Drastic increase or decrease in appetite
- Constantly asking for money
- Your valuable items go missing
- Loss of interest in family time
- Spending an unusual amount of time in their room
Symptoms of Teen Drug Use at School
School is another area that will be affected if your child has developed a drug addiction problem, and you should be wary if the following signs start to show up in your teenager’s school records:
- A sudden drop in grades
- Loss of interest in sports
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Skipping out on school
- Constantly being late for class
- Reduced cognitive abilities such as memory and concentration
- Sleeping in class
- Resistance towards authority
- Not telling you about school events such as parent teacher days
Physical and Emotional Signs of Teen Drug Use
Drug abuse will also make itself known through changes in your teenager’s physical and emotional demeanor, and there are some key symptoms of teen drug use that you should keep an eye on. These include:
- Extreme mood swings
- Unusual or concerning behaviour
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Depression and sulkiness
- Drastic change in appearance
- Talking about themselves less
- Constantly tired or over stimulated
- Red eyes
- Smell like smoke or too much cologne/perfume
Some parents insist that many of these behaviours are normal in any adolescent who is going through hormonal changes and stress that is associated with puberty and typical teenage issues, but they could also very likely point to teen drug use. It is important that if your teenager is showing most of these symptoms in an exaggerated manner, to address your fears rather than push them under the carpet for fear of creating an argument with your son or daughter. Nipping drug addiction or abuse in the bud as a teenager can set them up for a life free of drug addiction as adults.
Finding out that your teenager is using drugs can be a huge shock, and many parents react poorly. But it is important to remember that addiction is an illness and that you should treat your teenager firmly, but with love and respect.
The first thing you should do as a parent is to talk to your teenager. Creating a meaningful and calm dialogue can make all the difference in how your child will react to your suggestions and advice. However, sometimes these talks do not go as planned, and more often than not teenagers lose their tempers and it ends in shouting and slamming doors. It is incredibly important in this situation that you keep your cool and do not say anything that you will regret later. Have a plan in your mind of what you want to say to your teen before you say it – and stick to it!
Once you have established that your child has a drug problem, you should seek out help at your family doctor or a centre that specialises in teen drug use. Drug addiction is like any bad illness and is best treated by professionals and you, your teenager and your doctor need to decide on the best course of action. In more extreme cases, your teen may need to attend an inpatient rehabilitation centre. In less severe cases, an outpatient treatment facility might be what they need, as these centres will allow the teen to continue going to school while receiving the addiction treatment they need.
The most important thing when dealing with teen drug addiction is to ensure that your teenager knows that you are a safe haven. You need to leave space for them and the family to rebuild a trusting relationship that may have been damaged while they were using. You need to let your teenager know that they are loved unconditionally, but that there are also boundaries and consequences for all of their actions. If you are unsure about how to handle the situation in the best way possible, contact a professional for guidance.