Signs Your Teenager Is Using Drugs

According to the Substance Abuse and Services Administration, the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States isn’t cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines. It is prescription drugs, and it is profoundly affecting the lives of teenagers. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control, reported that in 2015 there were 772 drug overdose deaths for adolescents ages 15 through 19.

With the drug epidemic raking the country, parents are wise to keep a close eye on their teenagers for signs of drug use. Changes in attitude and appearance normally occur as teenagers begin to distinguish their identity, and branch out from parental confines.

Not all changes in teen behavior indicate drug use, but certain signs should put up red flags.

Signs of teen drug use include:

  • being secretive
  • changes in physical appearance
  • changes in household norms

The signs of secretive behavior include:

  • Your teen begins to lock his or her bedroom door
  • Leaves the house at odd times during the evening
  • You receive phone calls from the school
  • Your teen is missing classes
  • Using breath mints
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Stealing

Changes in your teens appearance can be:

  • bloodshot eyes
  • wearing long sleeve shirts (especially in summer)
  • flush cheeks
  • poor hygiene and dishevelment
  • soot marks on fingers
  • constant lip licking
  • weight loss
  • runny nose (without an allergy or cold)
  • nosebleeds
  • they smell funny
  • they shake or have tremors

Changes in the household norms may include:

  • seeing tin boxes and other irregular items in your teen’s room (drug paraphernalia)
  • decline in their grades
  • new friends whose nature doesn’t fit with your teen’s regular group of friends
  • new and odd food cravings

It is important for parents to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs. Stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. They can also cause paranoia. When taken in large doses body temperature can become exceedingly high and dangerous. Opioids can cause drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and, depending on the amount taken, slowed breathing. Depressants can cause disorientation, slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, lack of coordination, and seizures upon withdrawal from chronic use.

If you suspect your teen of using drugs, it is vital to seek guidance on how to approach him or her, and most important, what to do.

“The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.”— Oprah Winfrey

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