Teens And Drugs: The Warning Signs Of Addiction



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Every parent worries that their teenager will get caught up in the culture of drugs and alcohol, especially if their relationship is stressed.  Teens go through a range of physical and emotional changes in a very short time, and learning to adjust can be overwhelming.  

Too often, teenagers find that their experimental behavior has morphed into something more, and their parents are not the first people they feel like talking to about the struggle.  If you are concerned that your teenager might be using drugs or abusing alcohol, there are a few warning signs of which you should be aware.  

Behavioral changes may point to addiction

Most parents understand that their children will change dramatically as they enter and grow throughout their teen years, but addiction shows a different facet of behavioral changes.  

One important thing to remember is this… If your teen exhibits these behavioral changes, it may not be that they have a drug or alcohol issue.  There may be something else bothering your kid.  Either way, teens wear their emotions on their sleeves.  Pay attention.  

Behavior signs of addiction:

  • Poor grades in school.
  • Unexplained school absences.
  • Fighting or increased conflicts in school.
  • Decreased interest in hobbies.
  • Increased secrecy and isolation from others.
  • Avoidance of eye contact.
  • Obscene defiance.

Psychological changes straying from normal development

Teenagers love to experiment with psychedelic and psychotropic drugs, which are especially bad for brain development at this stage in life.  The frontal lobe of a teenager’s brain is not yet fully developed, and drug use can dramatically affect personality development and maturity.  

Here are a few tell-tale psychological signs of drug abuse.  

  • Unusual mood swings.
  • Extreme highs and lows.
  • Manipulative or  deceitful behavior.
  • Low energy and decreased motivation.
  • Memory loss and confusion.
  • Slurred or rapid speech patterns.
  • Unusually loud or obnoxious behavior.
  • Unexplained fear or paranoia.
  • Drowsiness followed by high energy behavior.
  • Social withdrawal.

Physical health signs that there may be a problem

No matter how sneaky your teenager is with their drug or alcohol abuse, there are always physical signs that develop.  Just remember, the presence of these physical signs does not always mean that your teen has an addiction problem.  

Here are a few key physical health signs your teen may be abusing drugs or alcohol.

  • Changes in appetite.
  • Extreme changes in sleep patterns.
  • Dry eyes and dry mouth (cotton mouth).
  • Nausea, vomiting, and excessive perspiration.
  • Persistent headaches.
  • Frequent unexplained ailments.
  • Sudden or extreme weight gain or loss.
  • Loss of coordination skills.
  • Nosebleeds or runny, sniffly nose.
  • Shakes, tremors, or seizures.

Other signs that your teen may be addicted

There are a few other ways to tell if your teenager has been dabbling in things they should not.  If you have had personal experience with drugs and alcohol, then you know what to look for around the house.  If you have led a drug free life, then you may be a bit naive.  

Check around your home for a few of these things.  

  • Drug paraphernalia including pipes, papers, needles, bottles, spoons, eye drops, cut up straws, random mirrors, empty baggies, pieces of tin foil lying around, balloons, vials, and capsules.
  • Drug residue may also be present.  Stems or seeds from marijuana buds and powder residue from snorting pills or cocaine are most common.  
  • Constant burning of incense or spraying of strong perfumes and colognes.  
  • Missing money, medications, or cigarettes.
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