Finding out that your teenager may be abusing drugs is one of the most painful events that far too many parents experience in the United States these days. Communication with your child is an important tool you have at your disposal that can help prevent further teen drug abuse. Talking to your kids is always a great way to help them grow into their young adulthood. These conversations should, at some point address the dangers and risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse. It is important to be aware of the signs of drug use, as your son or daughter might have begun experimenting with them. Early detection is crucial to helping your teen avoid a full-blown addiction that could potentially come with deadly consequences.
How can I tell if my son or daughter is abusing drugs?
A very telltale sign of drug use is sudden and abrupt changes in behavior. Many American kids will go through rapid shifts in behavior as they approach early adolescence and puberty. This is a natural part of their physical and cognitive development. However, if your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol, the changes you notice are probably going to be much different than your typical ‘growing pains’. Some changes you notice may lean towards outright self-destructive behavior, anger and depression. These will only become amplified with further substance abuse, so you will want to get help for your child quickly.
Examples of cognitive and behavioral change associated with teen alcohol and drug abuse may include the following:
- Lower academic performance and/or ditching school.
- Intense hostility and defiance for authority. Lashing-out at the world.
- Suddenly acting secretive and intensely demanding their personal privacy.
- Getting in trouble at school.
- Decrease in motivation and not wanting to do anything.
- Constant forgetfulness. Problems with remembering basic things.
- Suddenly changing friends and social circles.
Noticing one, or many of these behavioral changes in your child may be an indication that he or she has began experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol. As we mentioned above, a lot of teens experience some of these traits, simply as a normal part of growing up. Going through puberty and early adolescence can be a tremendously difficult adjustment for any child. The early teen years usually come with normal fluctuations in behaviors and physical actions. But when these changes are amplified or compounded with other physical behaviors, they may indicate a sign of teen drug abuse.
Examples of physical symptoms and actions associated with teen drug and alcohol use:
- Sleeping all day, being constantly fatigued, lethargic or excessively lazy.
- Intense hyperactivity, staying awake for long periods of time.
- Laughing uncontrollably, even at seemingly nothing.
- Bloodshot eyes or widely dilated pupils.
- Appetite changes, either eating constantly, or not eating anything for days.
- Twitching, spastic or erratic body movements.
- Nosebleeds or constantly runny nose. Scratching or touching their nose a lot.
- Unexplained injuries, cuts, sores or bruises.
- Teeth clenching, rapid deterioration of dental health and bad breath.
- Stealing money or constantly asking family members for money.
- Smell of smoke or alcohol on their breath, clothing or in their bedroom.
If you are experiencing any of these conditions at your home with your teenage child, maybe it is time to have a real face-to-face conversation with them. While you’re thinking of what to say as you approach your kid about their drug abuse, be mindful to lay the foundation for a positive interaction. Speak with your partner or spouse and come to an understanding that you will work together as one single entity to help your child. Now is not a time to play the old ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine. It is important to work in concert together, as a solid parental unit here. Even if you disagree on minor details of how to deal with the problem, understand that you both are doing out of love for the child.
It is also important for your teen to feel like you are trying to help them. Let them know it’s because you are concerned for their safety and well being. This shouldn’t be an emotional lecture on how they have let you down, or how much trouble they’re in. Addiction and drug use is actually quite normal for teens and adults alike. The negative stigma associated with alcoholism and drug abuse is the reason a lot of addicts go without treatment. They are afraid to ask for help because of their fears of their parents or authority figures in society will judge them or punish them. Sadly, this stigma forces a lot of people with substance abuse problems to go into hiding, or out on the streets, where their disease can only get worse.
With over 70,000 Americans dying from drug overdoses in 2017, the time to get serious about helping people who are experiencing drug abuse is now.
You may have discovered your teen’s drug abuse through any of the signs listed above, or snooping through their room or looking through their phone. Your child will likely feel attacked as you confront them about their drug use. As a parent, you shouldn’t set your expectations too high. It is highly unlikely they’re going to simply admit to using and promise to quit.
Sometimes just communicating the fact that you are aware of their substance use and you’d like them to quit can be considered a productive conversation. It is important to keep moving forward, one small step at a time. We sincerely hope that you caught on to the signs of your teen’s drug use early, before their problem has become a full-fledged addiction. Following up with your child about this topic is the important part after your first conversation with them. For a teenager, sometimes all it takes is a little parental involvement for them to understand how much you still care for them. This feeling can go a long way to boost their self-esteem and get them to think of the external consequences of their actions.
While the development of an addiction is gradual, it may be difficult to spot the thin line between recreational use or experimentation and full-blown drug abuse and addiction. If you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, your child doesn’t want help or has completely shut themselves off from you and other members of the family, 10 Acre Ranch has the resources, services and expert staff to help you during this difficult time. Our drug treatment program for teens and young adults is widely-recognized for laying the groundwork to a lasting sobriety through recovery.
If you need help finding the best treatment program in the Riverside, California area for your teen, please call us today. We are open 24/7 and a caring, certified addiction specialist is available to talk to you right away.