It's not a secret that teens and drug use often go hand in hand. While not a required part of coming of age, many teenagers try drugs and alcohol with their friends, at parties, or at concerts at least once or twice. In fact, 40% of 12th graders admit to trying illegal drugs at least once in the last year.
Minor experimentation, while alarming to parents, is not necessarily a cause for immediate concern. As teens rebel against rules, try new things, and make strides toward adulthood, it's not uncommon for even responsible young adults to try a joint or a beer. While any substance use isn't a great thing, a drink every now in then in late high school or early college likely won't plague your child with lifelong addiction issues.
However, some use can indeed be problematic, indicating serious symptoms of much deeper problems. These warning signs may indicate the need for an intervention or even professional assistance.
An Increase in Disobedient Behavior
If your teen is consistently defying rules, skipping school, breaking curfew, or partaking in other problematic behavior, this could be a sign of drug use or abuse. While some teens begin to get into trouble out of boredom, others begin going against basic household rules due to the influence of drugs.
A previously responsible, courteous teen changing drastically and for seemingly no reason can be a glaring red flag for drug use.
Trouble With the Law
Sometimes, trouble goes beyond breaking rules at home. Teens who get involved with drugs may find themselves going against the law as well, doing things like stealing, driving under the influence, and buying drugs off the street.
Facing a court case, jail time, or a legal fine can be a one-time mistake, but it's more likely that regular substance use is at the root of the problem. If your teen ends up in the police station, it's time to take action.
Changes in Appearance
Frequent drug use can affect more than grades or hobbies. In some cases, continuous abuse can lead to a change in appearance, including:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Bruises, wounds, or track marks
- Scabs or sores
- Flushed cheeks
- Soot on the lips or fingers
- Tremors, seizures, or shaking
- Nosebleeds or frequent runny noses
- More signs of Substance Abuse
If you see any of these signs in your teen, a drug addiction could be the cause. In general, casual or infrequent use won't cause noticeable symptoms so if you see something, you need to speak up.
Paraphernalia or Visible Use
Some teens are great at hiding signs of misbehavior, but when increasing drug use is involved, making mistakes can be common. If you find lighters, pipes, papers, vaporizers, pills, tablets, tabs, needles, or other substances related to drug use, this can be a sure sign of a growing habit.
This is also true if your teen is noticeably high around you. As many teens go to great lengths to mask drug use from their parents, seeing your child high on drugs in the home can be a sign of an addiction that is no longer under control.
Consistent Use Despite Prior Talks
We're strong advocates for discussing drug use with your teen, so you've probably had a few talks about the dangers of drugs, what can happen when use isn't controlled, and the risks of long-term abuse. However, all the talks in the world may not make a difference if addiction is already at play.
If you have had talks with your teen yet still notice troublesome signs, addiction may be a true concern.
Holding an Intervention
If you have strong reason to suspect drug abuse in your teen, it's time to speak up. Taking action can be very challenging, and can often mean confronting realities you'd rather not face. However, being an involved, responsible parent means helping your child to do what's right rather than what's easy.
An intervention is a little different than a regular teen-parent heart-to-heart. Instead, it's the first step in helping your teen get the help he needs. Be sure to bring your spouse into the conversation, and create a plan of attack together. This could mean compiling evidence to present, or deciding how to approach the situation, whether that means grounding and loss of privileges or inpatient treatment. If you are nervous about what to say or how to say it, consider role playing with your spouse to work out any kinks.
When your teen is sober and accessible, sit him down and explain what you have found, the signs you have noticed, and the concerns you have. Stay calm and patient, and do not react should your teen get angry or aggressive. This is a natural part of being accused of undesirable behavior, so try not to let any outbursts stand in the way of your message.
Once you have made your case, let your teen know the next steps you have in mind. This is one of the most important parts of your conversation; simply confronting the issue without taking action won't solve anything. If you believe rehabilitation is the right step, this is the time to announce your plans. Don't threaten your teen, but let him know that getting help is imperative. Tell him how much you care, and assure him that you truly want what is best for him.
If drug use has escalated to a point where rehabilitation is imperative, Teen Treatment Center is here. As a comprehensive resource for teen addiction, our inpatient recovery programs can help you make the best decisions for your troubled teen.
Have questions? That's okay. We have answers. Contact us today at (844)319-5239 to learn more about what we can do for your teen.