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Addiction and Substance Abuse in Teens

Addiction and Substance Abuse in Teens

Being a parent and suspecting your teen of substance abuse or addiction can be a scary prospect. You may be noticing a change in your teen’s behavior such as suddenly flunking classes, skipping school, acting out at school or at home, spending time with a new group of people, or being isolated in their room. While these can be considered normal teenage behavior, together with other signs can possibly raise red flags for substance abuse. Keep an eye on your teen and if you notice the warning signs of drug addiction and substance abuse, get help immediately.

Types of Substance Abuse

A variety of drugs are commonly abused by teens across the country, including alcohol. Illicit drugs may include marijuana, cocaine, meth, heroin, Ecstasy or LSD, and prescription pills. There is also an alarming habit of using seemingly normal household chemicals and items as substances such as bath salts and inhaling chemicals. These are all things you should look out for.

Symptoms of Substance Abuse in Teens

Teens and adults tend to show the same types of signs and symptoms of substance abuse. These include psychological, behavioral, and physical signs. Behavioral signs of substance abuse or addiction include taking risks while under the influence, skipping school or failing classes, causing problems with relationships, suddenly not hanging out with friends and being socially isolated, wanting to be alone most of the time, locking their bedroom door and losing interest in clubs or activities. Physical signs include a lack of grooming habits, poor hygiene and dental hygiene, odd smelling clothing, dilated pupils, and extremely pale or washed out skin. Psychological symptoms include unexplained mood swings, agitation combined with hyperactivity, paranoia and anxiousness, lack of motivation, lethargy, and violent behavior.

How to Help your Teen

If you notice any of the above signs in your teenager, there are some actions you can take. First, lay down your house rules and set consequences. Not only for not doing drugs or drinking alcohol, but consequences in regards to school work and how they behave at home. You may need to monitor their activity more closely and become a stricter parent. However when you speak to your teen, try not to be judgmental or critical, but understand what led them to abuse drugs or alcohol. Be your teen’s support system and you have a better chance of them opening up to you. You should also contact a local drug treatment facility to get advice on how to help your teen. They may be enrolled in a local narcotics anonymous (NA) or alcoholics anonymous (AA) program, attend counseling or therapy sessions alone or in groups, or be admitted to the drug rehab center on a temporary basis.
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