01 Feb 2019

Top 5 Warning Signs of Teenage Drug Abuse

Teenagers change every day, and there's no simple way to tell if they're on drugs. But there are signals. Read these top 5 warning signs of drug use in teens.

You brought them into this world and have been taking care of them ever since. The last thing you want to think about is the possibility of your teenager abusing drugs.

But drug abuse is costly in more ways than one. The US loses $740 billion annually in costs related to crime, health care, and lost productivity resulting from substance abuse. And in teenagers, whose brains and bodies are still developing, drugs can take a major mental, social, and physical toll.

The first step is knowing when there's a problem. Here are four signs of drug use in teens.

1. Changes in Behavior

One of the first big things you'll notice is a change in behavior. In fact, this is one of the earliest warning signs.

Anyone who's ever tried parenting a teen knows that they can be moody or difficult even on good days. But drug use can make a previously kind, caring kid act like a whole different person.

Watch for a sudden shift in academic performance, an inexplicable change in friend groups, complaints from teachers, and a decreased interest in formerly loved hobbies.

You should also keep an eye out for more insidious signs that you might otherwise brush off, like a sudden shift to hostility, a newfound lack of respect for authority, and sudden demands for privacy and secrecy.

2. Mood Changes

Another surefire sign of potential drug abuse? Mood changes.

What this entails can change a lot based on their drug of choice--alcohol is different from heroin is different from Adderall.

In general, though, keep an eye out for sudden emotional changes, particularly emotional instability. But you should also keep an eye out for lethargy, low energy, and periods of drowsiness broken by periods of extreme energy.

You should also keep an eye out for poor concentration, memory problems, and inexplicable paranoia. Ask teachers and relatives if they've noticed any problematic behavior, and ask them for details.

3. Health Problems

There are no two ways around it: drug abuse has a massive detrimental impact on your teen's health, both physically and emotionally.

Sometimes, this includes signs you'd obviously associate with drug abuse, such as tremors, nausea, sweating, and headaches. However, sudden changes in appetite, sudden weight gain or loss, and even frequent nosebleeds are all equally troublesome (nosebleeds can result from snorting drugs like cocaine).

4. Personality Shifts

Sometimes, it can seem like your teenager is a different person every week. Teenagers reinvent themselves often, and that's okay--it's part of figuring out who they are as people.

But when those shifts are rapid and negative, it might be a cause for concern.

Poor interactions with family members, teachers, classmates, and others could be a sign that something is wrong. So too is low morale, poor impulse control, apathy, or problems with self-control.

It can be easy to write off these problems as signs of a teenager being...well, a teenager. But when they're packaged together as part of a larger trend, it might be time to take a look at the bigger picture.

If You See the Signs of Drug Use in Teens

If you see the signs of drug use in teens cropping up in your child, don't panic. As much as you can, stay calm and collected. There are ways to help your kid get back on track and get healthy again.

Fresh Start is a sober living program that offers a combination of independence and accountability to help teens get healthy, stay clean, and learn how to thrive without drugs. If your teen needs help, get in touch today to see what we can do to help.