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The Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

Addiction is an illness that affects individuals of all ages. It's a sad fact that by the time they enter eighth grade, 28% of kids have already consumed alcohol, putting them at a high risk of developing alcoholism as they grow. Many parents worry about whether or not their children are making smart decisions, but they may not know how to spot the symptoms of drug use in teenagers. Fortunately, with a little bit of research and some observation, any parent, teacher, or older sibling can learn how to recognize the signs of teen drug use and get help.

What Are the Warning Signs of Teenage Drug Use?

In a perfect world, uncovering the signs of teenage drug use would be as simple as asking directly. However, for many teenagers, drug and alcohol use is a part of trying to fit in with peers or coping with problems at home or school, and they may seek to hide their use of these substances. As with adult addictions, there are several different symptoms of teenage drug use that you can look for.

  • Red Eyes and Dilated Pupils: One of the most telltale signs of teen drug use is red or dilated eyes. If alcohol has been consumed, a teenager may have trouble keeping their eyes open or focusing on a certain object.
  • Uncharacteristic Mood Changes: The teenage years are naturally moody ones, but if a teenager returns home in an unusually subdued or hyper mood, it may be an indication that illicit substances were part of the party.
  • Sudden Changes in Appetite or Sleep: Drugs affect the body in many different ways, but one of the most common effects is a disruption in normal eating and sleeping patterns. Teenagers may abruptly gain or lose weight and may be sleeping poorly.
  • Money Problems: One of the most alarming symptoms of drug use in teenagers can also affect the family finances. If a teenager is suddenly out of cash or if family valuables begin to disappear, it may be an indication that a drug or alcohol habit is becoming too expensive to maintain in secret.
  • Loss of Interest: Exploring interests as a teenager is normal. An abrupt loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, friends, and goals is not. Grades, extracurricular activities, and hobbies may all suffer as a result of drug use.
  • New Friends: A change in social circles is one of the most common symptoms of teenage drug use. If these new friends smell like drugs or alcohol or display the physical and behavioral signs of substance abuse, they may be encouraging the use of illicit substances.

The warning signs of teenage drug use may be alarming, but it's important not to jump to conclusions about the activities and future of a particular teenager. Sit down with them and discuss any misgivings you have while being careful not to pass judgment. Take the time to research treatment options, which may range from more traditional inpatient or outpatient facilities to alternative rehab programs. If finding a professional, cost-effective rehab seems like a Herculean task, consider using our pre-screening assessment. We can sort through our nationwide recovery network of the country's top treatment facilities to find the best program match for you or a loved one.

For more information on the signs of teenage drug use and how to find the right rehab program for yourself or a loved one, call today or fill out our contact form to reach a member of our highly trained staff.

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