There’s no denying that drug abuse among teens is a serious problem, but it can be hard to tell if your own teenager is using drugs. The signs of drug abuse aren’t always as obvious as people think, especially when you factor in the kinds of mood swings that happen in teenagers all the time. While it’s never a good idea to jump to conclusions and assume that any teenagers who aren’t acting like themselves are on drugs, you also need to know the signs of drug abuse and addiction so you can help your child receive the help they need.
Changes in mood
One of the first early signs of drug use in teenagers is a change in mood, especially a particularly drastic one. Yes, teenagers can be moody, but there’s a difference between teenagers who are angry or depressed yet still largely act like themselves and someone who suddenly acts like a different person. A teenager who is using drugs might start to act more sullen and depressed, but they might also become very secretive, as if they are hiding something. They might also act less motivated and appear to lose interest in things they enjoyed before, and they might act more withdrawn from friends and family members.
You might also notice some behavioral changes if your teenager is using drugs. For example, stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine will likely cause teenagers to lose sleep, while marijuana will cause an increase in appetite. You might also hear about your teenager getting into more trouble in school or even skipping school if they have a drug problem. Suddenly spending time with a new circle of friends is also sometimes a sign of drug abuse, especially if your teenager stays out late with these new friends and doesn’t want to spend a lot of time at home. Basically, any drastic behavioral changes could be signs of drug abuse, especially if they are changes for the worse.
Drug abuse causes physical changes in everyone, and teenagers are no exception. Look for signs such as bloodshot eyes, an unkempt appearance, the smell of alcohol on their breath, the smell of smoke in their clothes, and generally poor hygiene. You might also notice that your teenager is sick more often than usual, especially if their symptoms include coughing, nosebleeds, or a runny nose that can’t be attributed to allergies or a cold. In severe cases, you might notice sudden and dramatic weight loss or weight gain, burns or soot stains on fingers, sores around their mouth, and even seizures or vomiting.
What to Do if You Suspect Drug Use
Addressing drug use in your teenager is never easy, especially since many of the changes in mood that we discussed can also be attributed to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Granted, these issues often go hand-in-hand with drug use, but that isn’t always the case. You need to make sure that your child receives the help that they need, not jump to conclusions and accuse them of something they’re not doing.
If you are reasonably sure that your child is using drugs, do not accuse them of it outright. Ask them in a calm and reasonable tone what is going on and give them a chance to explain themselves. At the same time, don’t be afraid to be direct when you ask them if they are on drugs or what kinds they’ve been using. It will be a difficult conversation, so be prepared for what might happen. Don’t get angry or hostile, and do your best not to sound too accusatory. Drug addiction is a disease, and your child needs help if they are going to overcome it. There may be other issues at play such as the aforementioned depression and anxiety, so be prepared to help your child seek treatment for that as well. Above all else, stay calm, and try to be understanding. Far too many drug-addicted teenagers are treated like criminals when they are really in need of help.
Help Is Available
The good news with all of this is that there is always help available to those who need it. If you know that your teenager is using drugs and they are ready to at least consider getting treatment, contact us as soon as possible at 833-820-2922. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you might have and find a treatment program that is right for your child.