An unfortunate aspect of being a teenager is that you are constantly surrounded by, and peer pressured by fellow teens doing acts they know they shouldn’t be. It’s very common for teens to give into this social pressure, as teen drug and alcohol abuse continue to be a serious concern in this country. As a parent, it is critical to know the warning signs that your teenager may have fallen into the crowd of drugs or alcohol! These indicators are a telling sign that something is out of the ordinary, and should be addressed.
Specific physical changes without a valid explanation can be a very revealing sign that there is some sort of substance abuse occurring. Many different symptoms can be picked up on, such as smelling alcohol on their breath or noticing bloodshot, or dilated eyes. Rapid change in weight, appetite, or sleep habits are definitely signing to take into consideration. Another symptom that could be picked up on is noticing your teen is unable to sit still, having the shakes or unclear speech.
While behavioral changes may not be a set in stone indicator that your child is abusing drugs or alcohol they are a signal that something is up you may not approve of. Say your teen had always been very straight up with their whereabouts, and now are more hesitant to reveal their plans. Perhaps money is going out of their account at a much steadier rate, or cash is being withdrawn without explanation. Are they neglecting their studies, sports teams, or time spent with friends and family? A loss of interest in the hobbies they previously enjoyed is something to be cautious of.
Changes in their social environment can be an indicator that your teen is hanging around a new crowd with different interests than their previous friends. This does not equate to your teen and their new friends doing anything you don’t approve of, but their behavior is something to pay attention to as new people and habits are introduced. If you notice your teen has started acting differently since associating with this new group such as showing any of the other symptoms mentioned, this could be a sign of concern.
When children are up to things they don’t want their parents finding out about they tend to be much sneakier, more stressed or anxious, and experience mood and personality changes. Depending on the kind of substance they may be used they could be experiencing enhanced or decreased levels of energy, sleeping all day or suddenly being much more active throughout the day. They may begin telling more lies or exerting more aggression toward their family members
Addressing the situation
If your teen has been showing any of these out of the ordinary signs, especially a combination of various symptoms, there is the reason to suspect they may be partaking in drug or alcohol use. Remember not to jump straight into accusing them of doing certain things, talk to them and express your love and concern for the changes you have noticed in their life. If your suspicion rules correct, don’t freak out. Listen to your teen and sense where they stand with their relationship with drugs or alcohol. If your teen needs help tackling this situation, professional alcohol and drug treatment are available and eager to help ensure your child achieves sobriety.
Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, a drug and alcohol recovery center. He has been working in the healthcare space for seven years with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through treatment, trust, and intervention.