Facing the fact that your teen may be struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction can be disheartening. Some parents may even avoid confronting the truth because they are unsure if they can cope with the reality of having a child who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, denying your teen’s addiction will only enable them to continue using drugs or alcohol, ultimately contributing to the progression of addiction. The sooner you confront your teen, the sooner he or she can begin the journey to recovery from addiction.
Warning Signs Your Teen Is Abusing Drugs Or Alcohol
There are several signs that may alert you to the fact that your child is using drugs or alcohol. While it can sometimes be hard to tell between teenage experimentation and an actual substance abuse problem, there are certain things to look out for that can help you better understand your child’s behavior.
Warning signs that your teen may be addicted to alcohol or drugs include:
- Changes In Physical Appearance — Depending on what your teen is using, there may be physical changes to his or her appearance. For example, your child may lose or gain weight, have bloodshot eyes, wounds or track marks, nosebleeds, and other changes that may be obvious.
- Changes in Habits — Suddenly increased or decreased appetite, misbehavior, a new group of friends, and other habit changes may all be indicators that a teen is using drugs or alcohol.
- Changes Around The House — Some teens may leave subtle physical signs that they are abusing substances. For example, a teen may leave drug paraphernalia lying around or come home a dent in the car that can’t be explained. Missing prescription medications and other drugs may also be a sign that a child is misusing drugs.
- Acting Secretive — Acting in a secretive manner that is out of the ordinary may be an indicator that your teen is abusing substances. Locking the bedroom door more often, staying out later than allowed with friends, or evasively answering questions are a few examples of secretive behavior.
- Bad Grades — A teen’s grades are often the first thing to suffer when he or she begins to take drugs or drink alcohol. Grades may rapidly decline or slowly get worse over a period of time.
While confronting a teen about his or her drug/alcohol habits are one of the most important things a parent can do, many parents will avoid this conversation at all costs. In fact, an estimated one in five parents will never confront their teens about suspected substance abuse. In many cases, refusing to acknowledge your child’s addiction will only contribute to worsened dependence and abuse.
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Common Substances Abused By Teens
Many teens don’t have access to street or illegal drugs, so the substances often abused by teens are based on the accessibility. However, many of the substances abused by teens are similar to those abused by adults.
Common substances that a teen may abuse include:
- Alcohol — Alcohol tends to be the most accessible substance for teens to abuse and therefore is the most commonly misused drug by teens and young adults. Many teens’ brains have not fully developed including their ability to control impulses. This means that teens may be more likely to binge drink than adults do to the inability to control themselves or understand the consequences.
- Over-The-Counter And Prescription Drugs — Both of these types of drugs are easily accessible to teens. For example, a parent may be prescribed opioid medication for pain and leave the pill bottle lying on a bathroom counter. The teen can easily steal pills and abuse them, often without ever getting caught. Unfortunately, this type of behavior often leads to more aggressive drug abuse in the future.
- Marijuana — Many people who regularly use or abuse marijuana began doing so in adolescence. In fact, an estimated 20 percent of all high school teenagers have smoked marijuana in the last month.
Regardless of what drug your teen is abusing, the best thing you can do is confront and help them.
How To Confront A Teen That Needs Addiction Treatment
Communicating with your teen about his or her suspected drug use can be scary. However, it’s an important step towards your child’s recovery from addiction.
It’s important to remain calm and open when confronting your teen. Rather than accusing him or her of using drugs, try asking first. If your child admits to drug use, don’t overreact or lash out. This could ultimately cause your teen to shut down and refuse to confide in you. Explaining that you are here to support them in seeking treatment can help them feel understood and heard.
If your child denies drug use but you still suspect he or she is using drugs, you may want to consider administering an at-home drug test. This can confirm whether your suspicions are true and give you a reason to further help your child seek help.
Once you and your teen have gotten on the same page about seeking treatment, it’s important to support him or her every step of the way.
Treatment Options For Teens Struggling With Drug Or Alcohol Addiction
There are a number of different treatment options available to help your teen overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Several treatment facilities offer inpatient and outpatient recovery programs specifically for teens struggling with substance use disorders. Many rehab centers will provide a customized program for each teen to ensure all of his or her needs are met.
To learn more about potential signs that your teen needs addiction treatment, contact a treatment specialist today.