Drug addiction is a serious issue and it can be hard to discern whether a teen is using drugs, whether they are your child, a friend, a student or a loved one. You may have noticed some changes in their behavior or appearance that are causing you to worry. While change is to be expected during puberty, there are some changes that signify that something is wrong and needs to be addressed, whether it is through drug rehab, detox, counseling or another form of treatment. Here are some of the warning signs that a teenager is addicted to drugs and may need some additional help.
You may be able to notice some differences in the way that they look, which include both neglecting personal hygiene, as well as side effects that will depend on the particular drug that they are using.
- They aren’t taking care of their hygeine more than what’s usual for them
- Eyes are bloodshot
- Pupils have changed in size
- Arms have bruises, cuts or track marks. This could include covering arms with sleeves, even when it’s hot outside
- They are clenching their teeth
- They have an unusual smell, whether it’s on their body, in their room, on their clothes or on their breath
- They scratch themselves often, shake or have tremors
You may also find that there are health issues appearing.
- Their weight has changed suddenly, whether they have gained or lost weight
- They’re having difficulty sleeping
- They have been experiencing changes in appetite or are thirsty frequently (often a symptom of marijuana use)
- They’ve been having headaches, sweat frequently, nausea or have frequent illness
- They lack coordination or their speech is slurred
- They’re getting nosebleeds often (could be a sign of meth or cocaine use)
- Their nose is runny often
You may find that the way that they behave has been changing, whether it is emotional changes or changes in their general energy level.
- They aren’t performing as well academically, have been cutting class and are getting in trouble in school
- They aren’t as interested in their hobbies, sports teams or after school activities
- They seem withdrawn, are isolating themselves from others, avoid eye contact or are secretive
- They seem more hostile and angry, whether that’s lashing out, getting into fights, being involved in illegal activities or violating the rules at home
- Attempts to cover the smell of alcohol/drug use with products along the lines of air freshener
- There has been a change in their friend group
- There have been numerous complaints from their teachers, boss, co-workers and so on
- They have been trying to hide their bloodshot eyes with eyedrops
Psychological and Personality Changes
You may also find that their personality has changed in ways that are worrying.
- They have mood swings
- They are manipulative towards others
- They have difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- They act unusually afraid, anxious or paranoid
- They “space out” often and seem tired or drowsy
- They start laughing out of nowhere and for no reason
- They have sudden periods of high energy and become easily angered
Other Signs to Look For
There are other warning signs, as well.
- You have been finding either the remains of drugs, such as seeds or powder, or you find items related to drug use, such as rolling paper, needles, tin foil, pipes and so on.
- You find the drugs themselves
- Expensive items or cash have gone missing, which could have been sold for drug money
- There have been missing medications from the medicine cabinet
Some of these behaviors may be normal signs of growing up, such as mood swings or changes in sleep or appetite. But there are some things that are not simply puberty – such as stealing medications or paranoia – and may be linked to drug addiction or other physical and psychological problems that could be occurring.
If you’re a parent, always remember to keep an open line of communication between you and your teen, as they are more likely to be open about drug use or experimentation if they trust you. And remember that if the worst circumstances do occur that there are drug rehab centers and detox treatments for both drugs and alcohol.