If your child is taking drugs or drinking alcohol, they may go to great lengths to keep that hidden from you.
Teenagers that are abusing drugs and alcohol are generally testing new limits and not wanting their parents to harass them about their new habits. As much of teenage behaviour is around exploring boundaries and is also secretive it’s sometimes very difficult for parents to keep appropriate tabs on their teens.
You need to know that any alcohol or drug use constitutes abuse, as it’s illegal. Also as teenagers aren’t fully developed they risk doing themselves a disservice by experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
People who do not abuse drug or alcohol before the age of 21 have a much diminished risk of becoming addicted as an adult.
Signs that your teenager may be using drugs or alcohol can vary widely as people and circumstances vary so greatly and there’s a broad spectrum of drugs available for abuse to be ingested in a multitude of different ways.
If you know some of the signs it may help you to identify alcohol or drug abuse early which is important, as prolonged abuse may not only affect their behavior, attitudes and selection of friends, it can irreversibly damage the course of their life.
The following are a few symptoms of substance abuse problems to look out for:
Extreme Mood Swings
It is quite normal for teenagers to have mood swings, however extreme changes may be a sign of alcohol or drug abuse. In one minute he is deliriously happy and in the next moment he is withdrawn, depressed, or in a fit of rage.
New Circle of Friends
In many cases of teen substance abuse, they start hanging out with other teens that have similar interests. It is common for them to suddenly turn away from their old friends. Look out for an older group of friends. If he is spending time with youth whom you know or suspect of drug abuse, that is another sign that your child may be using too.
Poor Performance in School
Any change in your child’s attitude toward school may be symptomatic of substance abuse. If his school marks or grades have changed, going from average or good to very bad, there may be a problem. Find out whether he has been missing classes or school altogether.
Changes in Health
Look for any big changes in appetite from a healthy eating pattern to erratic eating. Has he suddenly developed digestive problems, ulcers or gastric disorders? These are medical conditions that may be due to substance abuse. A change in sleeping patterns is also a possible warning sign.
Evidence Around the Home
Alcoholic beverages that are missing from the drinks cabinet or any medication missing from the medicine cabinet could be a warning sign that something is wrong. If you find unexplained empty containers left around the house or garden that may be a cause for concern. Keep an eye open for any unusual paraphernalia. Another sign is if he suddenly begins to smoke cigarettes openly.
Change in Attitude
Watch out for your child developing an illogical negative (or positive!) attitude towards any anti-drug or anti-alcohol programs or materials.
A sudden negative attitude towards authority figures in his life, particularly if it was not an issue before is also something to be aware of. Does he have a new tendency to be generally dishonest about things? Any trouble with the law is also a warning sign of possible substance abuse.
Sudden and extreme changes in hairstyle or clothing choices that seems out of character. The sudden and consistent use of breath mints is a worry. Has he lost interest in personal hygiene? These changes on their own are not a cause for concern, but many little changes all at once are a signal of your teen drinking or using drugs.
If someone tells you that your child is drinking or using drugs, don’t necessarily fob it off. Look into it. Does he suddenly need extra money for unclear or unexplained reasons? Look out for physical signs such as staggering, slurred speech, changes in the pupils of his eyes and bloodshot eyes.
Many of these changes could be normal, however if there is a pattern of several of these warning signs your child may be using alcohol or drugs.
What to do if you Suspect Your Child Is Abusing Drugs
If he has already chosen to use drugs or drink, you both need help from a professional addiction counsellor or a drug and alcohol intervention service. If he has not yet made the choice, you need to take preventative measures.
Research has shown that youth who have constant healthy communication with their families stand a greater chance of not falling into alcohol and drug abuse.
Families should talk openly and honestly about their feelings and the challenges facing teens, such as peer pressure, teen pregnancy and drug abuse. Teens who feel that their parents love them and trust them have a greater chance of not falling into alcohol and drug abuse or getting into recovery sooner. Allowing your teen to take part in developing family rules and allowing them to make choices relevant to their age can also help.
Contact one of our addiction treatment consultants today for expert and impartial advice on the best alcohol and drug abuse rehabs near you.
Our trained addiction counsellors are on standby waiting for your call. We can help to arrange addiction assessments including urine tests and make appropriate referrals to the treatment centre that best suit your needs and your pocket!
Call us right now for alcohol and drug abuse help.