Many teenagers try to experiment with drugs and alcohol to fit in or give in to peer pressure. Even if your teenage child seems to be the most upstanding kid on the block, it’s challenging to control their curiosity at this stage in their lives.
As a parent, it is natural to be worried. You want to veer your children away from being addicted to harmful substances but you might not know where to start.
How do you detect whether your kid is using drugs? Is their behavior normal as part of their teenage years or should you be concerned already? Below are some of the telltale signs that you should look out for to find out if your teenager is using drugs.
Changes in their physical appearance and health
When a person abuses drugs, there will be physical side effects that will be evident. These physical signs could clue you in whether your teenage kid is using drugs. Some common signs of drug use include the following:
Bloodshot eyes, glazed eyes or dilated pupils
Rapid weight gain or weight loss even without dietary changes
Mouth sores or dry lips
Rashes or bruises on arms
Low energy or hyperactivity
Poor personal hygiene
Always dizzy or drowsy
Abnormal changes in their mood and mental health
Many adolescents experience mood changes as part of their growing up years. If your teenage kid is suddenly becoming moody, this may not immediately signal that they are using drugs. However, if their mood changes are extreme to the point of causing harm to themselves and to other people, this could be a side effect of drug use. Some of the mental side effects of drug use include irritability, anxiety, and depression. You should also watch out for periods of being extremely happy then followed by depressed mood.
Changes in their behavior
It is normal for teens to change their behavior as they grow up. They gradually start to carve out their own personality and character. They start to dislike things that they would normally enjoy. They might not be as excited to join family activities compared to when they were younger. They also become secretive of things regarding their personal stuff.
However, you should take notice if these behavioral changes are becoming negative or abnormal. Is your kid starting to lie to you? Are they stealing money? Are they breaking curfew constantly? Are they hanging out with friends you are not acquainted with? Are they unwilling to introduce their new friends to you? These could be signs that they are trying to hide their drug use.
Missing meds in your medicine cabinet
Many parents are unaware that teenagers can abuse just any drug that they can access. Because many teens typically don’t have the cash to buy drugs, they start by ransacking the medicine cabinets in their homes. Prescription meds and even over-the-counter drugs can be abused by teens.
If you start noticing that meds from your medicine cabinet are disappearing, this could be a sign that they are being used illicitly. It is best that you keep your medicine cabinet inaccessible to your children. If you have leftover prescription medication, dispose of them properly. Don’t keep them in a place that can easily be accessed by your children.
Presence of discreet drug paraphernalia
There are now many different ways to consume drugs. Unlike before when you have to look for injections or marijuana pipes, now, drugs can be disguised by teens. A good example is the popularity of vape pens. Vape pens are typically used as cigarette substitutes, usually marketed as a “healthier” alternative. However, many teenagers use vape pens instead of cigarettes as they are more discreet and they do not emit tobacco smell. Many vape pen brands like Juul do not look like vape devices as they resemble USB devices or writing tools. They are also easier to hide.
The more serious problem is that teens are now using vape pens to consume other drugs other than nicotine. There are now vaporizers that are prefilled with THC, the psychedelic compound in marijuana. There are also dab pens that contain dab weed, a concentrated form of marijuana that can have up to 90% of THC.
Poor school performance
Just because your teenage kid got an F in Math does not mean that this is an automatic sign of drug use. Getting a failing grade in one or two subjects could mean that your child might need extra time and attention to study.
What could be worrying is if your child starts losing interest in school altogether. For example, if your teenage son is an average B or C student then he starts failing all of his subjects for no reason, this should signal that there’s something wrong. Other signs include skipping classes, being late or absent all the time, sleeping in class, and getting into fights.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse issues, help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today.