Signs of Drug Use in Teens
Changes in Behavior
Behavioral change is usually one of the first visible signs of drug use. Some behavioral changes that may indicate your teen is using drugs include:
- Poor academic performance.
- Missing school and/or extracurricular activities.
- Getting into conflicts or trouble at school.
- Becoming defiant, uncooperative, or hostile (e.g., violating curfew, ignoring rules, lashing out).
- Increased illegal activity or behavior.
- Decreased interest in activities and hobbies.
- Changing friends or social circles.
- Isolating themselves from friends or family.
- Acting secretive.
- Newfound demand for privacy.
- Lack of respect for authority.
- Avoiding eye contact.
- Complaints from teachers, classmates, etc.
- Unexplained disappearances for significant periods of time.
Because many abused drugs are psychotropic, personality or mood changes are also common signs of drug use. These include:
- Frequent mood swings or emotional instability.
- Extreme highs and lows.
- Manipulative or deceitful behavior.
- Decreased motivation.
- Lethargy or low energy.
- Memory problems.
- Poor concentration.
- Slurred or rapid-fire speech.
- Laughing for no apparent reason.
- Being unusually loud and obnoxious.
- Being fearful or paranoid for no apparent reason.
- Periods of drowsiness followed by periods of high energy.
- Other unexplained changes in attitude or personality.
There are many health issues that occur as a result of drug use such as:
- Appetite changes.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Excessive thirst (known as cottonmouth and typically occurs as a result of marijuana use).
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Frequent illness.
- Sudden weight loss or gain.
- Coordination problems.
- Nosebleeds (may occur due to the snorting of drugs such as cocaine).
- Seizures (without a history of epilepsy or other seizure disorder).
- Runny nose.
- Shakes or tremors.
- Accidents or injuries.
People who use drugs often begin to neglect their personal appearance as a result of drug use. If your teen is in fact abusing drugs, you may notice some of these signs:
- Poor hygiene.
- Poor coordination.
- Teeth clenching.
- Bloodshot eyes.
- Bruises, cuts, and sores (from falling, bumping into things, or scratching oneself).
- Constant scratching (a common sign of opiate use).
- Track marks on arms or legs from intravenous drug use.
- Wearing long sleeves even in the summer (to cover up track marks).
- Burns on fingers or lips (from joints).
- Pinpoint pupils (a common sign of opiate use).
- Smelling like drugs, alcohol, or other unusual odor.
Other Signs to Look For
There are several other visible signs of drug use that you should look for if you’re worried about your teenager using drugs. These include:
- Finding drug paraphernalia (e.g., pipes, rolling papers, needles, bottles, unusual containers, eye drops, butane lighters, smoking devices, cut up straws, mirrors, Ziploc bags, tin foil, weighing scales, balloons, aluminum foil wrappers, vials, capsules, etc.).
- Finding drug residue or remains (e.g., seeds, stems, powder, etc.).
- Smelling strong incense or perfumes within your teenager’s personal space (commonly used to hide the smell of drugs).
- Missing medications, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.
- Missing cash or other resources (i.e., valuable items which may be pawned for drugs).
- Finding hidden stashes of drugs or alcohol.
Of course, not all of the signs listed above will point directly to drug abuse. Some signs on their own may be indicators of other, unrelated problems. However, the more signs that are present, the more likely your teen is using drugs
Our Teen Drug Treatment Program Highlights
We include several types of drug and alcohol treatment for our Teen patients.
- Group Therapy
Group therapies are part of behavioral interventions designed to provide teenagers with a non-judgmental setting to discuss their substance abuse problems. These meetings give them positive social reinforcement from their peers. It also encourages them to turn their lives away from drug abuse.
Behavioral intervention will also include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, which help teens anticipate and cope with substance abuse problems. For instance, they learn to monitor and control their feelings, and use their self-control to escape high-risk environments for drug abuse. Our counselors are alert and have the experience to control the risk of some group members reinforcing negative behavior and encouraging substance abuse.
- Family Therapy Sessions
This type of therapy addresses negative issues in the home environment and equips the family with skills and goals for dealing with drug abuse. Some of the teenager’s behavior and attitudes toward substance abuse can be attributed to the family’s failed behavior in key areas, such as in failing to instill discipline, or for being substance abusers as well. We will therefore help the entire family unite and resolve these issues.
- Use of addiction treatment medication
Our on-site Medical Doctor evaluates each of our teen patients to access whether they should entertain the idea of trying medication. Our Doctor includes their parents and gives the family unit the choice to decide. More than often, drug and alcohol abuse is related to other mental disorders, which is why medication can be such an aid in overcoming drug abuse.
- Recovery Support Services
We will help our teen patients in every step after treatment is complete. We have staff that helps our patients find programs set up in communities or in schools for recovering teenagers, guardians and peer leaders to support one another in overcoming substance abuse problems. We also guide and encourage 12 step meetings, community engagement, volunteer opportunities, and support groups.
Please call 855-202-4220 for more help.