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Early Warning Signs of Drug Use in Teens

Drug use is a growing concern among teenagers today. With the increasing pressure to fit in, teens may turn to drugs as a means of coping or rebelling. As parents and guardians, it is important to be aware of the early warning signs of drug use in teens so that we can intervene early and prevent potential harm.

Professional treatment may be needed to help with teen drug abuse. If you’re concerned that your teenager may be struggling with alcoholism and drug dependence, send us a message, and our team can help you better understand substance use disorders and recommend the best way to help your teen with their substance misuse.

Behavioral Changes

One of the most common signs of substance abuse in teens is a sudden change in behavior. This can include being more secretive behavior, lying, or avoiding family and friends. A teenager who misuses drugs may also begin to have mood swings, becoming irritable, angry, or withdrawn. It can also lead to rapid or rambling speech. If you notice these changes in your teen’s behavior, it is important to communicate with them and understand what may be causing them.

discussing signs of drug use in teens with teenager

Behavioral Changes

One of the most common signs of substance abuse in teens is a sudden change in behavior. This can include being more secretive behavior, lying, or avoiding family and friends. A teenager who misuses drugs may also begin to have mood swings, becoming irritable, angry, or withdrawn. It can also lead to rapid or rambling speech. If you notice these changes in your teen’s behavior, it is important to communicate with them and understand what may be causing them.

Physical Symptoms

Drug use can also manifest in physical changes. These include bloodshot eyes, dilated or constricted pupils, involuntary eye movements, dramatic weight loss or gain, and changes in appetite. Other physical signs of drug use may include slurred speech, tremors, and unexplained bruises or sores on the body. Other signs and symptoms of drug use may include poor coordination, change in sleep patterns, a recurring runny nose, and unexplained nausea or vomiting.

Changes in School Performance

A decline in academic performance can also be a red flag for drug use. Teens who are using drugs may start skipping classes, neglecting their homework, or showing up late to school. They may also lose interest in activities they once enjoyed or participate in risky behaviors. If your teen’s grades suddenly drop, it is important to talk to them and find out what may be causing the change.

Changes in Appearance

Teens who are using drugs may also show changes in their appearance. Symptoms of drug use that manifest in how your teen looks can include a lack of personal hygiene, a disheveled appearance, or a sudden interest in dressing differently. They may also start wearing long sleeves or pants to hide track marks from injecting drugs. Pay attention to any changes in your teen’s appearance, as it could be a sign of drug use.

Changes in Friendships

The social circle your teenager is part of is a major factor in teenage drug use. If your teen suddenly starts hanging out with a new group of friends or distancing themselves from old friends, it may be cause for concern. Watch for signs of your teen adopting new behaviors or values from their friends, as this can be a sign of potential drug use.

Understanding the Connection Between Drug Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

It is important to note that drug abuse in teens can also be linked to underlying mental disorders. Many teens turn to drug addiction as a way to self-medicate and cope with issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma. If you suspect your teen may be struggling with a mental health disorder, it is crucial to seek professional help for both issues.

What Risk Factors May Lead to Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Teens?

While every individual is different, there are some common risk factors that may increase the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse in teens. These include family members with substance abuse issues, a lack of parental involvement or support, feeling pressure from other drug users in their social group, stress, and a history of trauma or abuse. Being aware of these factors can help parents and guardians take preventative measures to protect their teens from developing alcohol and drug addictions.

Low self-esteem can also put a teen at higher risk for drug misuse. If your teenager is struggling with feelings about their physical appearance, intelligence, or any other factor, they may turn to drugs as a way to cope. Encouraging positive self-esteem in your teen and being supportive can help prevent them from turning to substance use.

Peer pressure is another risk factor for teenagers. If other people in their age group are encouraging them to experiment with alcohol or other substances, it can be difficult to resist. Talk to your teen about realistic ways to resist peer pressure, avoid high-risk situations, and about how to make their own decisions rather than following the crowd.

teen in social circle

Addictions Common in Teen Drug Use

Common substances that teenagers include alcohol, magic mushrooms, prescription drugs, marijuana, cigarettes, and other illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. While all of these substances are harmful to a teenager’s developing brain and body, it is important to educate your teen about the dangers of each specific substance and the consequences that may come with using them.

Consider Professional Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

If you notice any of these signs of drug use in your teen, it is important to seek professional help. Treatment options for substance use disorder may include therapy, support groups, and rehabilitation programs. It is important to find a treatment plan that works best for your teen’s individual needs. Whether they need to receive treatment for alcohol addiction or prescription drug abuse or need help recovering from other drugs, a professional can help guide them on the path to recovery.

Common Recovery Programs for Drug Abuse

Some common recovery programs for drug misuse include 12-step programs, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and motivational interviewing. These programs can help teens understand their triggers and develop coping mechanisms to maintain sobriety. It is important to involve your teen in the decision-making process and ensure they are committed to their recovery journey.

Medical Detox for Teen Drug Use

In cases of severe addiction to alcohol or drugs, medical detox may also be necessary. This involves removing all traces of drugs from the body under medical supervision to manage potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It can also include addiction medicine that can make the process safer and more comfortable. It is important to seek professional help for this process and not attempt it at home, as it can put your teenager at greater risk.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual-diagnosis treatment addresses both drug or alcohol addiction and any mental illness challenges simultaneously, increasing the chances of successful recovery. It is important that alcohol and drug addiction treatment address the root causes of substance use in your teenager, and dual-diagnosis treatment allows for a comprehensive approach.

teen getting professional help for addiction

Reach out to Alpha Recovery Center About Addiction Treatment

At Alpha Recovery Center, our dedicated team of professionals is committed to assisting individuals overcome their struggles with addiction. We implement an array of evidence-based recovery programs to aid in their journey. Each client’s situation is evaluated meticulously to tailor a treatment plan that best suits their unique needs and circumstances.

If Alpha Recovery Center is not the right fit for your teenager, the knowledgeable and caring staff are more than equipped to make a referral to the best alternative options.

The Road to Recovery

It is of utmost importance to understand the significant role professional help plays in overcoming addiction. Having the right resources and support can make all the difference in navigating the path to recovery and achieving long-term sobriety. If you’ve noticed any signs and symptoms of drug abuse in your family member, let us know via our contact form. We are here to help.

Alpha Recovery Center offers comprehensive treatment and support for individuals battling addiction and co-occurring mental health challenges.

Most Insurance Plans Accepted

We believe that financial barriers should not prevent anyone from accessing high-quality addiction treatment. At Alpha Recovery Center, we work with a broad range of insurance providers to ensure individuals struggling with addiction can access effective care and treatment tailored to their specific needs. Our dedicated team is here to guide you through the intricacies of your insurance benefits, helping you to fully understand and maximize your coverage for the treatment you need.

For questions about your insurance coverage options, please reach out to our team by phone or fill out our online insurance verification form. An admissions coordinator will promptly follow up with you. If you are currently without insurance or have limited coverage, our team is here to guide you through alternative options.

Eric Chaghouri, M.D.


Dr. Eric Chaghouri

Check if your insurance coverage will cover the cost of treatment.

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