As a parent, you always want to protect your children and keep them safe from harm. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, our teens can end up involved in drugs. It’s important to be aware of the signs of teenage drug abuse so that you can help your child if they are struggling. Keep reading to learn more about the warning signs of teen drug abuse.
Changes in mood or behavior
One of the most telling signs of teenage drug abuse can be changes in mood or behavior. Parents should look for sudden shifts, particularly from a formerly cheerful and engaged teen to someone who seems irritable and distant – these Phoenix drug rehab professionals explain. Furthermore, unexplained outbursts or dramatic shifts in appetite may also signal troubling changes. Teens occasionally have intense emotions or behaviors that require guidance but parents should take particular notice if these emotions become omnipresent and difficult to explain. A caring and watchful parent means the difference between a proactive intervention and long-term damage for an addicted youth. The more proactively parents handle the situation, the greater their child’s chances of regaining health and resuming a normal life.
Changes in appearance
Another sign of teenage drug abuse that you need to be aware of is some changes in their appearance. You may notice your teen sporting new clothes, or paying more attention to their grooming habits than usual. Other changes could include dramatic weight gain or loss, as well as sudden and extreme alterations to hairstyles or even tattoos. Another way to spot potential drug use is if their financial habits change; they’re spending large amounts of money without an explanation, perhaps without the money they would normally need for such expenses. Without intervention, these physical changes can have very serious consequences, so it’s important to stay vigilant when observing your teen’s behavior and remain open to conversations about drug use with them.
Changes in friends
Maybe your teenager used to have a core group of friends who they seemed very close to, but now it seems as though they’ve lost interest in them. Or maybe you’ve noticed that the friend circle has changed entirely, and your teen is associating with a different type of person. These are potential signs of drug use, as teens often turn to drugs when feeling left out or wanting to fit in with a new crowd. If you start seeing any changes in the types of people your teen is hanging out with and no other explanations for the sudden shift, then it might be an indication that something else is going on. However, be sure not to jump to conclusions — there could be other factors at play here. Be sure not to make any assumptions and look for further evidence before taking action.
Changes in school performance
As a parent, one of the major signs you may notice if your teen is abusing drugs is a sudden change in school performance. Academics and attendance are both indicators of drug abuse among teens. Monitor your teen’s grades periodically to get a sense of their motivation and interest level in school—any large drops in GPA or sharp decline in attendance should be considered warning signs that may indicate drug use. If needed, speaking with teachers who are familiar with your student can give you more insight into what’s perpetuating the newfound lack of interest or participation in the classroom. Paying attention to these signals early on can help you address potential issues with your teen before the problem becomes worse, thus ensuring they receive the best care possible.
One tell-tale sign of potential teenage drug abuse that parents need to be aware of is increased secrecy. Teens are naturally private in their lives, but if your teenager has begun to shut you out and behave more guardedly, it could indicate they’re in over their head with drugs or highly susceptible to peer pressure. Reassure them that you are there to listen without judgment, then take note of any particularly suspicious or concerning behavior, such as changes in companionship or a shift in attitude towards their physical appearance. While this isn’t to say that a lack of secrecy is any indication of severe drug use, it’s wise for parents to stay alert and keep the communication channels open with their teens.
Always looking for more money
One last sign of teenage drug abuse to be aware of is a sudden or ongoing need for more money. As teens experiment with new substances, they may quickly find themselves increasingly dependent and their financial demands often rise too. If a teen asks you for money more often or too much – even if it’s for seemingly harmless things like “going out with friends” – that should raise a red flag and lead you to investigate further. The best way to prevent a possible problem from getting out of hand is to pay attention and act swiftly.
How can you help them?
As a parent, it is critical to recognize the signs of adolescent drug abuse. If you suspect your teen is abusing drugs, don’t confront them right away; instead, express your concerns and inquire as to why this behavior has begun. It’s also important to be aware of the resources available to help teens get the help they need — look for a local drug rehabilitation center or work with your teen’s doctor to develop an action plan. Finally, establish clear boundaries for acceptable behavior and provide ongoing support to keep them on track. You can help your teen get back on track and avoid long-term consequences by providing proper guidance and understanding.
By paying attention to changes in school performance, secrecy levels, or requests for money from your teen, you can identify potential issues early on and provide them with the support they need. Remember that drugs are not always the cause for these behaviors — there may be other explanations at play here too. It’s also essential to make sure you have clear boundaries around what is acceptable behavior while still providing ongoing support as your teen navigates this difficult time in their life. With compassion and understanding, you can help guide your teen back onto a healthy path free from substance abuse.