There are few early and common warning signs of teen drug use, a few simple guidelines can go a long way toward spotting an issue earlier rather than later.
The substance abuse among the young people is a much bigger problem than many parents realize. How big? One in 10 kids 12 to 17 years of age are current users of illicit drugs, according to a 2009 government survey.
One in every five parents who suspect their teen is using drugs do not intervene to prevent further drug use.
It is not about the just identification, taking measures about the prevention of the further damage is must.
Few signs of the teen drug abuse
It can be very difficult to tell the very differences between the pangs of adolescence and actual drug use, but parents can be very proactive in talking to their teen to find out what’s going on with them.
Here are some common signs of teen drug abuse include:
- Secretive behavior
- Unusual tiredness
- Missing curfew
- Poor hygiene
- Diminished personal appearance
- Avoiding eye contact
- Frequent hunger or “munchies”
- Laughing for no reason
- Loss of interest in activities
- Smell of smoke on breath or clothes
- Bad grades
- Bloodshot eyes
It is the parents duty to initiate the early conversation with their children if they suspect drug use.
The best way to get a teen to communicate about their drug use and their habits is by just asking compassionate and understanding questions but not accusing and abusing them.
During the communication, the right tone during the conversation is very important in this way they can ask straight forward questions.
The conversation can be so simple like, “Have you been using drugs or alcohol?” or “Has anyone offered you drugs recently?” can be enough to get the conversation started.
Responding to a teen’s admittance or denial of drug use in the right away is just as important as asking the right questions.
How to Find Out if Your Child is Using Drugs or Alcohol
Use Your Nose.
When you suspect your kid is having substance abuse. Then first thing to do is to have a real, face-to-face conversation when your son or daughter comes home after socializing with friends. If there has been drinking or smoking, the smell will be on their breath, on clothing and in their hair.
Look into their Eyes.
When your child is having the substance then take a close look at their face. Pay attention to his or her eyes. If they are substance abused then their eyes will be red and heavy-lidded, with constricted pupils if they’ve used marijuana.
Pupils will be dilated, and he or she may have difficulty focusing if they’ve been drinking.
Notice the mood changes.
See how your teen acts after a night out with friends?
Are they unusually loud and obnoxious, or laughing hysterically at nothing?
Unusually clumsy to the point of stumbling into furniture and walls, tripping over their own feet and knocking things over?
Do they stumble into the bathroom?
These are all quite sure signs that they could have been drinking, or using marijuana or other drugs.
Monitor Driving and the Car.
Teen car can be another clue as well. Is their drive totally reckless when they are returning home?
Are there new, unexplained dents on the car ?
If you’re suspicious about it then the next is to, examine the inside of the car too.
Does it smell like smoke or alcohol fumes?
Are there any bottles, pipes, bongs?
If you find evidence of drug use, be sure to prepare for the conversation ahead.
Keep an eye out for deceit or secretiveness.
Are they acting recently secretive or sound fishy? Are they being vague about where they’re going?
They say parents will be at the party they’re attending, but can’t give you a phone number and come home acting intoxicated?
If these ring true, something is wrong and it’s time to take action.
Teen Drug Experimentation
It’s very important to know the difference between drug abuse and addiction. Many teens do experiment with drugs, but aren’t addicted.
But the teen drug abuse can have long-term cognitive and behavioral effects since the teenage brain is still developing.
The Recognition and prevention of drug use can end an emerging problem before it starts.
Half of all new drug users are under the age of 18. The main problem comes is due to teen experimentation.
This experimentation plays the biggest role in teenage drug use. However, experimentation is a fact of life and just because a teen has tried the drugs or alcohol doesn’t mean they will become an addict.
It’s more important to understand why some teens are tempted to experiment.
Common reasons teens abuse drugs include:
- Emotional struggles
- A desire to escape
- Peer pressure
The majority of the adults with an addiction first experimented with drugs before they turned 21 but good news is that the rates of teenage drug abuse have been declining. (source)
Mistakes that parents make:
1# Failing to set rules and set expectations
Teens who know their parents disapprove of drug use are less likely to use – and vice versa. it’s best to let your kids know how you really feel and uncomfortable about the substance abuse before they hit their teenage years.
few examples for communication about this topic would be:
- Telling your children you expect them not to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
- Encouraging honesty by remaining nonjudgmental.
- Talking about your boundaries with other aspects of drug use, such as not driving under the influence or riding with others who are using drugs and alcohol.
2# Underestimating Mental Health Issues
One of the good reasons why child gets addicted is to un-diagnosed mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
The research studies has estimated that 11–48% of adolescents have a co-occurring disorder. About 9% of males and 19% of females who had a substance use disorder also had an anxiety disorder.
Teens who had experienced depression which can result in feelings of sadness, anger, and hopelessness—are twice as likely to abuse drugs as those who do not have it.
Teens who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were 5 times more likely to use drugs than those without the mental illness as per studies.
It is possible that a proper mental health diagnosis and effective treatment of the symptoms of depression, PTSD, anxiety, and other disorders may help prevent substance use behaviors from progressing or from developing in the first place.
3# Not Taking Experimentation Seriously
Many parents believe that it’s routine for kids to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana at parties; sometimes, parents even supply the drugs and alcohol.
They do mistakenly assume that the kids can’t become addicts or that experimentation will cease as a teen matures and moves beyond the high school years. That would be a terrible mistake of thinking.
However, research shows that it is a serious mistake for parents to think this way. One study of adult drug users who started using as kids stated that they felt that their substance abuse problem might not have developed if their parents or other adults in the community had intervened, instead of assuming it was normal and turning a blind eye to the situation.
4# Failure to Notice the Changes at start.
one has to keep a keen eye when coming to parenting especially when involving the issues like substance abuse, look out the warning signs:
- Changes in the friend groups:
Your child suddenly stops associating with his or her old friends and finds new ones. If the new peers seem to be the troublemakers that could be a strong warning sign.
- Changes in physical appearance:
Normally it is common for the each person who is mentally and physically stable takes care of themselves. It might be even small things like make up and nice grooming etc., lately if you see that they no longer cares about their appearance.
- Trouble at school:
Your teen’s grades suddenly drop without explanation and have no explanation for that.
- Missing school:
Your child begins to skip classes or skips school entirely.
- No more interest in hobbies:
They no longer care about their regular activities that were once important to them, like that of the sports, dance, or church youth groups etc..
- Changes in eating and sleeping:
They may show a sudden unexplained loss of appetite or even become extremely hungry and want to eat all the time.
- Emotional outbursts:
Your teen may start unnecessary and aggressive arguments with family members or be openly hostile
5# Blaming Yourself
If you are already aware that your kid has a drug problem, you may blame yourself, which is a natural reaction but not a helpful one.
Focusing on what you did or did not know is a waste of time and energy—focus on getting help for your child instead. Realize that you can do nothing to change the past, but you can change the future.
Keeping drugs and alcohol out of your home environment is an important way to support their recovery process and ongoing sobriety.
Not focusing on blaming yourself, family members, or peers.
Letting them know that you are concerned.
importantly, take care of yourself, physically and emotionally. If you fail to care for yourself during this time, eventually you will lack the internal resources to care for your child.
Some good self-care practices include:
- Eat and sleep healthy on a regular schedule.
- Taking some time of yours to do something nice for yourself, such as having dinner out and participate in a activity that sounds interesting to you.
- Enlisting friends and family to help supervise your child so that you can take breaks.
- Getting the correct therapy for yourself to manage stress and learning to set boundaries.
- Avoiding the tendency to engage in unhealthy habits as a means of coping with stress, such as overeating, drinking, or compulsive shopping.
- Seeking out support groups for parents who are dealing with similar situations.
Getting No Help:
Yes, It is frightening to realize that your kid has a drug problem or a substance abuse, so many parents back off, especially when their child gets angry or denies there’s a problem.
Taking right actions at the right time can help to prevent the bad comings or prevents mental issues.
Various researches have shown that the earlier a substance use problem is treated, the less likely it is to progress and the easier the problem is to treat.
Other reviews of studies show that early intervention reduced further substance abuse in adolescents, particularly for binge drinking.
Sometimes, parents even hesitate to get help or treat their child or bring child to help because they might think that their child will have to go to a rehab center for many months and be away from home.
This may not always be the case since, depending on the severity of the substance use and related issues, there are different levels of treatment intensities and settings.
Various treatment interventions for substance abuse include:
A perfect counselor in your community can treat your child by seeing them on a weekly basis. Some of the less serious drug abuse issues can be treated on an outpatient basis through counseling.
These programs are to help your kid get off drugs especially true if your child is dependent upon certain types of drugs or using multiple drugs. This may also require your child to go to the detox center for about few days prior to moving forward with formal substance abuse treatment.
Many of these programs meet many after school for several hours as many as 5 days a week. These outpatient treatments is often structured around a group setting and may also include family counseling along with them.
Inpatient treatment programs:
This is for relatively severe addictions that require around-the-clock supervision, or for those who have a serious mental illness in addition to a substance use disorder.
These may last 30 to 90 days, during which you can have regular visits with your child and be in contact with their treatment team for updates on their progress. (source)
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