Are you worried that your teen might be experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or have a drug abuse problem?
Substance Use Prevention
When almost 25% of high school students use at least one type of illicit drug, you are right to be worried. Addiction to drugs, including alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, marijuana, opioids, hallucinogens, and other substances, is one of the biggest problems families must deal with today — especially among teens, college students, and other young people.
What are the warning signs?
There are several warning signs you can look for that might indicate your teen or adolescent has a substance abuse problem or is suffering from addiction. For example, has your child….
- made sudden changes in behavior and mannerisms, including frequent changes in friends?
- withdrawn from family activities he or she used to enjoy, preferring to stay at home or be alone?
- suddenly started violating curfews?
- given you defiant responses to simple requests that are outside the “usual”?
- started skipping classes ?
- brought home grades that have taken a nosedive?
- seemed to stop caring about their personal hygiene and the way they look?
- acted in secretive or irrational ways?
The sooner you know there is a problem with drug use or alcohol abuse, the faster you can get your child the support he or she needs.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a mental health disorder that can be addressed if your teen gets the treatment they need.
Teens can start to abuse drugs for different reasons
(National Institute on Drug Abuse)
- To fit in: Many teens use drugs “because others are doing it”—or they think others are doing it—and they fear not being accepted in a social circle that includes drug-using peers.
- To feel good: Abused drugs interact with the neurochemistry of the brain to produce feelings of pleasure. The intensity of this euphoria differs by the type of drug and how it is used.
- To feel better: Some adolescents suffer from depression, social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and physical pain. Using drugs may be an attempt to lessen these feelings of distress. Stress especially plays a significant role in starting and continuing drug use as well as returning to drug use (relapsing) for those recovering from an addiction.
- To do better: Ours is a very competitive society, in which the pressure to perform can be intense. Some adolescents may turn to certain drugs like illegal or prescription stimulants because they think those substances will enhance or improve their performance.
- To experiment: Adolescents are often motivated to seek new experiences, particularly those they perceive as thrilling or daring.