Teen Substance Abuse – Signs Parents Should Look for

Many teenagers in the United States are getting addicted to unhealthy habits such as substance abuse. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 10 percent of youth aged 12 to 17 years and more than 20 percent of those aged between 18 and 25 years were current illicit drug users in 2010. These alarming statistics clearly state that it is mandatory for parents to control these unhealthy habits in their teens.

Lack of knowledge among parents on illegal drugs and their effects has become a major obstacle in dealing with the issue. This article aims to help parents look for warning signs of teen substance abuse.

Physical signs: You can find your teen’s illicit substance abusing habits by observing certain physical signs. It is easy to notice the absolute visible changes in their body that can be a result of dangerous unhealthy habits. Following are some of the physical symptoms of a substance abusing individual:

• Blood shot eyes, watery or glassy eyes, and unusual size of pupils
• Nose bleeding and runny nose that is not because of cold or allergies
• Sores and spots around mouth indicating smoking of illicit drugs such as marijuana or tobacco
• Needle marks on arms or legs and unusual skin injuries like bruises
• Unusual pungent or smoky smell from breath, body, or clothes
• Changes in physical appearance with negligent and poor hygiene including burns on fingers and lips, no bathing or grooming, etc.
• Slurred speech
• Sudden or dramatic loss or gain in weight
• Changes in sleeping patterns including too much or too little sleep, trouble in falling asleep, or difficulty in staying asleep
• Impaired walking like staggering or walking slowly
• Puffy face that is excessively pale

Apart from these physical signs, parents are also needed to look for certain behavioral signs.

Behavioral signs: Habitual use of substance abuse makes a teen vulnerable to various changes in his behavior and personal habits. Below mentioned behavioral signs clearly indicate the frequent substance abuse in your teens.

• Preferring to be seclusive
• Staying away from family activities
• Loss of interest in extracurricular activities
• Changes in personal hobbies and interests
• Excessive use of air fresheners, scented candles or incense to mask the smell of drugs or smoke
• Frequently going out every night
• Sudden change in friendships and wandering with new groups of individuals who use drugs
• Engaged in fights at school, home or workplace
• Being hyperactive, and physically and verbally abusive
• Involved in reckless driving and facing legal issues, car accidents, etc.
• Declined performance at school or workplace
• Drop in grades at school
• Stealing money and valuables from home or borrowing money from friends

With continuous drug abuse, primary behavioral symptoms develop into severe psychological problems.

Psychological signs: Teens addicted to illicit drugs are often associated with certain psychological problems due to impairment of brain activity. Following are few of them:

• Depression
• Sudden mood changes or emotional instability
• Anxiety
• Loss of memory
• Paranoia or confusion
• Impaired thinking
• Nervousness
• Irritability

These physical, behavioral or psychological symptoms in your kids may indicate the use of illicit drugs. However, this suspicion should be cleared immediately by conducting drug tests at home. Timely intervention or necessary treatment at right time assures perfect recovery from the problem. Regular drug tests and clear rules on substance abuse at home are the best preventive measures.