Ever wonder if your teen may be using drugs? There can be obvious reasons to suspect drug use with your teen, but don’t overlook the subtle clues. As parents and guardians, it’s our job to be mindful and aware of what substance abuse looks like.
Watch for these possible signs your teenager is using drugs so you can be prepared to help them overcome this challenge.
1. Change in Friends
While it’s not uncommon for kids to grow apart as they get older, a major change in friends could be a potential sign of drug use in your teen. If a youth sees a friend using drugs, they may become curious and start to ask questions about it. The friend struggling with substance abuse could then motivate your teen to try it and even teach them how.
When you notice your child is hanging out with what you feel may be a “rough crowd,” it’s important to be mindful of the possibility that drugs are involved.
2. Increased Isolation
Teens using drugs tend to like to spend their time alone, either in their room or out of the house. They will often separate themselves from their family and friends who wouldn’t approve of the behavior. This isolation may lead to feelings of loneliness and cause them to progress in their substance abuse even further.
3. Lack of Interest in Activities
Is your teen an athlete or did they participate in other extracurricular activities and then suddenly lose interest? While it’s possible they had a negative experience at the activity, there’s also a chance this new disinterest is due to drugs. Substance abuse tends to cause energy levels to drop over time which may make extracurriculars more difficult or less enjoyable.
4. Drop in School Grades
Has your teen suddenly started struggling in school? A rapid drop in their grades could be a sign your teen is on drugs as the substances can negatively affect their schoolwork. Regular drug use makes youth less interested in their schooling and could even lead them to drop out altogether.
5. Strange Behavior at Home
Every teenager is constantly going through changes both physically and mentally but the signs of drug use tend to be more apparent in consistently odd behavior. Teens who are struggling with substance abuse often have trouble concentrating and thinking clearly. They may also suffer from short-term memory loss and struggle to remember conversations or tasks they’re supposed to complete.
6. Frequent Craving for Junk Food
There’s a difference between teens having a snack after school and someone having an insatiable craving for junk food. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), strong cravings are a symptom of substance abuse. The APA has even added this sign of teen drug use to their official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
7. Physical Signs & Symptoms
If a parent is worried their teen is using drugs, there are a large number of physical signs they can watch for:
- Dry mouth
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot eyes
- Appetite changes
- Shakes or tremors
- Random sleep patterns
- Skins rashes, cuts, or marks
- Poor hygiene (including bad breath and body odor)
8. Staying Out Late
Parents can expect their teens to miss curfew by a few minutes on occasion. But when staying out late becomes a regular occurrence with no clear reason, it could be a sign your teen is using drugs. If they can’t explain where they’ve been, it’s possible they’re spending time out with their friends partaking in substance abuse.
Parents Need to Know Teen Drug Abuse Signs & Symptoms
Drug abuse in teens is as rampant today as at any time in history. Parents would be wise to be aware of these signs so they can head off what could be a dangerous addiction for their child.
The signs above don’t add up to an exhaustive list but parents should have their antennas up and be open to the fact that their kids aren’t immune to worldly temptations.