As a child transitions into high school they suddenly become more exposed to substances that could potentially harm their growth. Naturally the child is already experiencing many conflicting feelings, as they proceed to navigate teenage life. What can be worrisome to parents is how to spot early signs of drugs and alcohol abuse, and how to speak with your teen about their behavior in time to prevent addiction. Substance use can cause problems at home, school, and in relationships, leaving the teen feeling isolated, helpless, or ashamed. It is important to know that help is always available.
Many teens first try drugs and alcohol out of curiosity, peer pressure, or in an effort to improve stress, anxiety, or depression. Use doesn’t automatically lead to abuse/addiction, however it is extremely important to discuss with your teen the severe consequences of recreational drug use.
There is no easy way to identify if your teen is using drugs and alcohol. As you may observe below, many of the symptoms or signs are sometimes typical to adolescent behavior.
- Messy, lack of care for appearance
- Poor hygiene,
- Red, flushed cheeks/face
- Burns or soot on fingers/lips (from “joints”)
Personal Habits or Actions
- Clenching teeth
- Smell of smoke or unusual smells on breath/clothes
- Frequently breaks curfew
- Cash flow problems
- Reckless driving
- Avoiding eye contact
- Secretive phone calls
Behavioral Issues Associated with Teen Substance Abuse
- Change in relationships with family members or friends
- Loss of inhibitions
- Mood changes or emotional instability
- Loud obnoxious behavior
- Unusually clumsy, stumbling, lack of coordination, poor balance
- Sullen, withdrawn, depressed
- Makes endless excuses
- Periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up”
- Silent, uncommunicative
- Unusually tired
School- or Work-Related Issues
- Loss of interest in schoolwork
- Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, or sports
- Failure to fulfill responsibilities at school
- Complaints from teachers
Health Issues Related to Teen Substance Abuse
- Runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
- Frequent sickness
- Wetting lips or excessive thirst (known as “cotton mouth”)
- Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
If you feel that your teenager may be using drugs and alcohol it is important to remember to stay calm. Being accusatory of your child may only push your child farther away. The best way to find out what is going on with your teen is to begin a back-and-forth conversation. This allows your child the opportunity to discuss any questions or situations they may have found themselves in.
To help initiate a conversation with your teen try some of these tips.
- Create a safe environment for your child to share the truth. Assure your child that they can always be honest with you.
- When speaking with your teen on a serious subject don’t allow any interruptions between you two. This shows you are dedicated to what they have to say.
- Listen to your child vent. Sometimes they just need someone to listen.
- Ask your child what they thinks/feels about drug use and that behavior
The effects of peer pressure to use and abuse substances can be damaging to your teens health and family’s well being. If you feel your teen has been using drugs or alcohol, Solstice can help. With our specialized, clinically intensive residential treatment program, we can provide your teen girl or child assigned female at birth with the help they needs to overcome peer pressure and begin their path toward healing.
For more information about how Solstice helps teen girls and assigned female at birth cope with substance abuse, call us at 801-815-8700.