The teenage years are difficult for everyone. It’s a time when teens want to assert their independence, try new things, and have more privacy. This is a stage of development when teens struggle with finding an identity and a sense of belonging. It’s not always easy to tell the difference between typical teen behavior and warning signs of teen substance abuse issues. At Fort Behavioral Health in Fort Worth, Texas, we want you to be aware of teen substance abuse issues so that you can help your teen seek recovery if needed.
9 Signs Your Teen May Have a Substance Use Issue
1. You have a substance use issue.
The most significant risk factor for a teen developing a substance use issue is having a parent with a substance use issue. One reason is there’s a strong genetic component to teen addiction. We’ve identified several genes that are associated with addiction to various substances.
Another reason your substance use influences your child’s substance use is that your kids learn by watching. They mostly assume that whatever you do is normal behavior, even if it’s drinking heavily or using other drugs. Having drugs and alcohol in the house also increases their access, allowing them to experiment with drugs and alcohol at a younger age. The best thing you can do to prevent your child from developing a substance use disorder is to seek a drug addiction treatment program for yourself.
2. Your teen’s grades drop.
It’s very difficult to maintain good grades while using drugs or alcohol excessively. One study of college students by Penn State University found that students’ grades declined steadily as episodes of binge drinking increased. There are a number of possible reasons for this decline. One is simply that students are drinking instead of studying. They may also miss class because of drinking, although this is less of an issue in high school, where attendance is taken more seriously. Drinking and drug use can also interfere with sleep and impair memory, concentration, and learning.
3. You notice changes in your teen’s behavior.
Drugs and alcohol use cause many behavior changes. As noted above, substance use can impair your memory, concentration, and learning, as well as disrupt sleep. Staying out late or staying up late may be a cause for concern. Your teen may become more private or secretive, talking less, and spending more time in their room. On the other hand, a normally quiet kid may start talking more and seem to have more energy. Any significant personality change could be a red flag of teen addiction. An adolescent treatment program for your teen at Fort Behavioral Health may be the answer for teen substance abuse issues.
4. You notice cognitive changes.
Many substances affect the way people think and affect basic cognitive functions. As a parent, you should consider some indicators of teen substance abuse issues, including if your teen is:
- Having trouble concentrating
- Nodding off
- Lacking in coordination
- Clumsy or uncoordinated
- Slurring speech
- Having mood swings or sudden outburst of anger
These are signs of teen addiction, and your child may require addiction treatment in a drug and alcohol rehab program at Fort Behavioral Health.
5. Your teen starts having health problems.
There are many health issues associated with substance use. Although the worst health issues–aside from overdoses–are typically associated with prolonged use, some may show up pretty quickly. These may include:
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Sleep changes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sweating, headaches
- Frequent illnesses
6. Your teen’s appearance changes.
Substance use may also lead to changes in personal appearance. These might include:
- Poor hygiene
- Bloodshot eyes
- Injuries such as cuts and bruises from accidents
- Constant scratching
- Wearing long sleeves in the summer (this hides needle marks on the arms)
- Pinpoint pupils or bloodshot eyes
As noted above, also pay attention to sudden changes in weight or appearing tired from too little sleep.
7. Your teen’s friends change.
Teens change friends all the time, but a sudden change in friend groups may be a sign of teen substance abuse issues. Substance use can be a way of finding social acceptance for some teens. They may also alienate their old friends with their behavioral changes. It’s a good idea to know who your child is spending time with. If your teen’s friends are using drugs and alcohol, that behavior may carry over to your child.
8. You find physical evidence.
Perhaps the most direct evidence your teen has a substance use issue is finding physical evidence such as drugs, alcohol, or drug paraphernalia in his room or clothes. Common drug-related items include:
- Plastic baggies
- Spoons or foil syringes
- Rolled up bills
9. Your teen alludes to substance use on social media.
It may seem absurd to think your child would admit to drinking or drug use on social media, but never underestimate a teen’s desire to look cool in front of their friends. If you suspect your child has teen substance abuse issues, look over their social media activity.
Get Help for Teen Substance Abuse Issues Today
If you see any of these warning signs, it’s important to stay calm and respond in a measured way. Most of these warning signs are evidence and not necessarily proof. Pick a time to talk to your teen about your concerns. Approach it as a conversation and be willing to listen. Remember, your ultimate goal is to help your teen, not to punish them.
At Fort Behavioral Health in Fort Worth, Texas, we offer a safe and nurturing space for teens to seek recovery from the complex disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face his challenges, discover the root of his problems, and reclaim his life. Our residential treatment programs are designed to treat the underlying causes of addiction and help each client create a plan for lifelong recovery. Contact us today at 844.332.1807 or by email via our contact page.