People with substance abuse problems often exhibit strange behavior such as mood swings, weight loss or gain, isolation, lethargy, sudden flashes of anger, and problems holding onto money. Unfortunately for parents, these are also common warning signs that you are living with a perfectly normal teenager. So what are The Warning Signs Your Teen Is Suffering From Substance Abuse ?
It is no secret that there is a serious substance abuse problem in our nation today. You have probably heard about the teens all over the country, or even at your son or daughter’s school, that are suffering and dying because of substance abuse. There’s no doubt that you want the best for your teen. Many parents like to believe that their child could never suffer from substance abuse. Unfortunately, very few parents expect their son or daughter to develop a drug problem, yet many teens do.
Here are the facts:
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 11.5 million Americans ages 12 and up misused prescription pain medicine in 2016 alone. The year prior, an estimated 2 million Americans were struggling with addiction to prescription painkillers such as OxyContin or Vicodin. An additional 591,000 people of all ages were struggling with opioid addiction in the form of heroin abuse. It’s not just adults, but children and teenagers too, that are abusing these dangerous opioid drugs.
Prescription medicine is not the only thing teenagers are in danger of abusing. Nearly 50% of high school seniors have abused some kind of drug, most often alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. On average, 14% of Americans drink beer once a week in a perfectly safe way, but 58% of high school seniors used alcohol on a regular basis in 2015.
Lastly, 36% of high school seniors used marijuana in 2015, and 12.9% abused prescription drugs. Substance abuse is a serious problem among teenagers, and it’s important that you are aware of this as a parent. Here are some of the warning signs you should look for that your teen might be suffering from substance abuse.
One of the first things you might notice in your teen if they are abusing substances is physical changes. Depending on the substance they are abusing, you might notice things like bloodshot eyes, poor hygiene, red cheeks, constant fatigue, shaking, nose bleeds, sudden changes in weight, unexplained injuries (cuts and bruises), and the smell of drugs or alcohol on their person.
You live with your teen every day, so you know how they typically behave. If they are abusing substances, though, that typical behavior will probably change. You might notice things like a withdrawal from family and friends, isolation, lack of communication, loss of interest in activities they used to love, avoiding eye contact, drop in grades, hostility, and sudden lack of respect for authority.
Finally, substances can change the psychological characteristics of your teen as well. You might start to notice mood swings, lack of concentration, memory problems, slurred or too-fast speech, paranoia or fear for unwarranted reasons, manipulative behavior, lack of motivation, and unusually loud or obnoxious behavior.
If you notice any of these changes, it’s important for you to take action immediately. Talk with your teen to try to get the truth from them. They need help and support, and you as a parent are one of the best sources for just that. There are also online resources for you so you can figure out just what next steps you need to take to start helping your teen back to sobriety.
This is such an important topic. I am horrified by the very real possibility that my kids could become addicted to something. The real truth is that no matter how well we raise our kids, it’s ultimately up to them if they want to try alcohol or a drug to try to fit it. It’s so scary.
Thanks for writing this article and trying to break through the denial of us parents. I watch my son like a hawk, especially since I know his birth parents background in regards to this stuff. And I think that is a good first step, be aware of what is happening in your kids life! And then talk to them!
robin rue says
This is so scary, but as parents if we know what to look out for we can help our kids stay addiction FREE! Thanks for the important reminder about what signs to look for.
Danielle Smith says
What an extremely important subject! Kids are so susceptible to peer pressure. It’s up to us as parents to lead the charge in talking these over with our kids.
Annemarie LeBlanc says
Thanks for sharing this post. My children are all grown ups, but that does not mean they are free and clear of this social menace. We must be vigilant in spotting “the signs,” and always let your kids know how much you love them.
This is such an awful epidemic right now. Our country needs to step up on stopping substance abuse in it’s tracks. Hopefully with knowing the warning signs, parents can do more for their kids before it is too late.
Shannon Gurnee says
That is so scary! We have 4 teens in our home and this is definitely an important article to read. Thank you for sharing.
Yes kids these days are having more and more access to things like this. Always pay attention to the shift in the kid behavior and even who they hang out with,
Lyndsey Rullman says
This really is such an important article. I am a recovering addict and I’m so thankful I can say that. Unfortunately, both of my parents were addicts as well. By the time I was 16, I was going to raves and doing 2 to 3 different kinds of drugs at a time. I would tell my dad I was spending the night at a friends (my mother was always on the street using) and be gone for the entire weekend at a rave party, sometimes even in a whole other state, at SIXTEEN. I am determined to stop this family tradition and break this vicious cycle with my 3 children. I couldn’t even imagine my 17 year old son pulling or doing the crap I did when I was his age. It’s so important to be involved, watch these signs, not live in denial that addiction can affect ANYONE, and to again be involved. I hope a lot of people read this article because this could honestly save a life.