Learn / The Signs of Drug Use in Teens
Drug use in teens is an increasing problem in the U.S. It’s important to recognize the signs of drug use in order to intervene and help teens struggling with addiction. Common signs of drug use in teens include changes in behavior, including mood swings, attitudes, and school performance. Additionally, physical signs can include red eyes, changes in sleep patterns, and changes in physical appearance. Finally, teens with drug addiction may show signs of financial or legal trouble, including stealing money or getting into trouble with the law.
If your child is using drugs, this recovery journey you’re about to embark on can not only help your teen, but it can also make your whole family grow closer. Getting teen treatment can set your child on the path to success.
If you know what to look for, you can discover if your teen is using drugs or drinking alcohol. Be on the lookout for these signs:
Changes in mood:
Changes in appearance:
Changes in behavior:
If you have a hunch your kid is using drugs, but you want to be sure, there are some things you can do to get a better idea of the situation:
According to the National Institute on Drug Use, since the start of COVID-19, reported drug use has decreased1. This is likely due to school closure and social distancing (i.e. less peer pressure). Luckily, the downward trend has continued through the last couple of years; however, substance use still poses a threat.
The most commonly used drugs reported in 2022 were nicotine/vaping, cannabis/marijuana, and alcohol. (Keep in mind that these are only the reported statistics. More teens likely use these substances and just don’t report it.)
While this downward trend provides some hope, research findings show dramatic and rising death rates in youth between the ages of 14-18.
Also, it’s important to know that fentanyl, amongst other dangerous players, has contaminated the U.S. and worldwide drug supply2. This substance is extremely potent, meaning even the tiniest drop can make the user overdose. Fentanyl could be found in drugs like cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), and heroin because it’s cheaper to cut these drugs with fentanyl than sell the pure substance.
Educating yourself on these dangers, and knowing how to help your child, is crucial for prevention, awareness, and recovery if/when needed.
Each teen has their reasons for using drugs. Here are some common factors that can push them to experiment.
So you’ve had the conversation with your teen about their drug or alcohol use. Now is the time to start gathering resources on how to help them.
4A. Remember to prioritize your own self-care. Engage in activities that bring you joy and practice stress-reducing techniques.
As your kids grow older and start making their own decisions, you can act as a compassionate guide and lead by example. What you do from here on out is what matters most. A bright future awaits for your child with the right teen treatment.
Abuse, N. I. on D. (2022, December 15). Most reported substance use among adolescents held steady in 2022. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/2022/12/most-reported-substance-use-among-adolescents-held-steady-in-2022
Friedman, J., Godvin, M., Shover, C. L., Gone, J. P., Hansen, H., & Schriger, D. L. (2022). Trends in drug overdose deaths among us adolescents, January 2010 to June 2021. JAMA, 327(14), 1398–1400. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2022.2847
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