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What To Do If You Suspect Teen Drug Use

February 22, 2017

What to do if you suspect teen drug use

Teenagers are exposed to all types of temptations and pressures. A parent may wonder if their child's addiction or substance abuse problem is the result of poor parenting. They may wonder what they could have done differently. Unfortunately, there is no set formula or way of parenting that prevents a teenager developing a substance abuse addiction. Instead, it is best to focus on the identification and treatment of the signs of abuse. A parent's first reaction upon finding out about substance use may be anger and fear. It is important, however, to put those emotions aside, fully evaluate the situation, plan for effective communication with your teen, and then come up with a treatment or solution.

Know the Facts: Teenage Substance Abuse and Addiction

  • More teenagers engage in underage drinking than smoking cigarettes or marijuana usage
  • Marijuana is the easiest to obtain and has the highest usage rate of illicit drugs in teenagers
  • By the 12th grade, approximately 50% of teenagers have abused an illicit drug at least once
  • Teenagers are at a higher risk of developing an addictive disorder when compared to adults
  • Teens that begin using a substance before the age of 15 are 6.5 times more likely to develop a substance use addiction than those who delay usage until age 21 or older
  • Every single day in the U.S., 2,500 youth abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time

Communicating With Your Teen about Addiction

Opening the communication about alcohol and drugs is difficult for many parents. Many teenagers react to this conversation differently, with some becoming defensive and withdrawn and others accepting of the information given. Approaching the substance conversation with your teen is a tricky situation and needs to be handled carefully. It is best to find an appropriate time and attempt to approach the conversation in a non-threatening manner. Teenagers who are accused are more likely to withdraw and not actively engage in the conversation. It is also best to be prepared and to ensure that your teen is not currently using during the conversation. Prepare yourself with a desired outcome and reach for this goal.

Allow your teen to ask questions and inform them of the possibility and dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Provide them with the feeling that you are there for them and that you want to help them through their addiction. If you are still hesitant about this conversation, consider outside help. This may be in the form of a teen focused drug treatment center, school counselor, family therapist, or religious leader. Contact The Teen Treatment Center at (844)319-5239 for confidential, 24 hour help.

Understanding the Signs of Addiction

A substance abuse addiction can be significantly more dangerous in a teenager than an adult. According to (2016), the teen brain is a work in progress. It is more vulnerable than a mature brain to the physical effects of drugs. This increases the potential for developing a substance abuse or dependence issue. It is important to identify the signs of an addiction as early as possible in order to increase the chances of a full recovery and to limit the damages to the developing brain and body.

You have established that your teen has attempted alcohol or drugs at least once. How can you establish if it was truly a one-time occurrence or if an addiction or abuse problem occurs? The specific signs and symptoms of addiction will vary, depending on the substance being used. However, the following signs are common in addiction of a substance. According to A Drug Free World (2016), look for the following signs of substance abuse or addiction:

  • Bloodshot or overly red eyes
  • Skipping class, declining grades and motivation
  • Frequently missing money, or the urgency to obtain money quickly
  • Sudden mood changes and extreme irritability
  • Change of relationships
  • Changes in grooming, sleeping, or eating habits
  • Decreased coordination, more scratches, bruises, or burns
  • Unusual or strong smells on breath or clothing

Although an individual sign listed here may not be enough to diagnose substance abuse or an addiction, it is an important deciding factor. As a parent, it is important to be concerned about your teenager's daily habits and any changes to those activities. Monitoring these physical and mental changes can help you identify a substance abuse problem before too much damage occurs. The Teen Treatment Center at (844)319-5239 can also help with identifying common signs of addiction.

Sit down and talk with your teen

Knowing When to Get Help

If you are concerned about the possibility of a drug or alcohol addiction problem with your teen, it is important to get help as soon as possible. There are more factors to consider than simply abstaining from the substance. Your teen will likely experience physiological, psychological, and behavioral symptoms. They may need to deal with more than the drug use alone. Understanding when you need outside help can be one of the best decisions that you will ever make for your teenager. The Teen Treatment Center can provide you with additional teenage drug and alcohol abuse resources.

There are more substances available to teens today than ever. Parents may not even be aware of all of the available substances or pressures that teen's face in today's world. As a parent, it may be helpful to understand the current trending drugs of choice among teens. It is important to also learn how to effectively communicate with your teen, and request assistance when unsuccessful. You should also be aware of the signs of an addiction and know when outside help is needed. You are not alone when it comes to your teen's substance addiction. The professionals at the Teen Treatment Center can provide you with confidential, 24 hour help at (844)319-5239.


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