Teen drug abuse is much more common than most parents would like to believe. As children reach teenage years, they become more likely to embark on a journey of self-discovery. This might involve experiences that involve experimenting with various drugs, from marijuana to cocaine.
While some kids are simply succumbing to peer pressure, others use drugs to self-medicate from stress and other painful emotions to better their mental health. Others turn to prescription drugs, like Ritalin, to improve their performance at school.
As a parent, you want to keep a watchful eye on your children. Educate them about drug use, so they understand the consequences involved.
Common Drugs Abused by Kids
As a parent, it’s important aware of the substances that teens are most likely to abuse. Commonly abused drugs include:
- Prescription medications
Many kids will become curious about drugs, and will experiment with them. Others succumb to peer pressure and try alcohol or drugs to fit in. It’s vital that schools and parents talk to teens about various drugs, and warn them about the severity and potential consequences of alcohol or drug use. Awareness, education and preventative measures may be the key to preventing teen drug and alcohol abuse.
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse
While you may suspect that your kid is doing drugs, it’s not always easy to recognize drug abuse warning signs. Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following symptoms and warning signs of a drug addiction to get a better idea regarding whether your kid needs professional help via an addiction treatment program.
Tally up the amount of ‘yes’ answers you have to get a final score. Compare your final score with the results to get a better idea of the amount of influence that drugs and alcohol may have on your child. These warning signs may help you make a more informed decision.
- Has your child ever craved for alcohol or drugs?
- Do you see a drop in school or home performance because of drug use or alcohol? This may include missing classes or having an unexplained drop in grades.
- Has your child started to hang out with new friends due to drugs or alcohol?
- Has your child started to isolate himself or herself because of drugs or alcohol?
- Do you feel that your child is neglecting his or her family and friends?
- Has your child lost friendships due to suspected drug use?
- Have you caught your child trying to hide drugs or alcohol from you?
- Has your child ever complained about withdrawal symptoms, like insomnia or headaches?
- Have you noticed your child engaging in reckless and risky behavior when on drugs or alcohol?
- Do you notice significant behavior changes, especially ones related to self-care and appearances?
You should get a final score between 0 and 10. Check out the results below to see whether your kid is addicted to alcohol and drugs or struggle with substance use disorders.
Other Signs of a Drug Addiction
There are other physical signs and symptoms that may emerge depending on the type of drug that your child is abusing. Other signs of drug use and addiction include:
- A change in appetite
- Delayed reaction time
- Paranoia and anxiety
- Poor concentration and memory
- Red eyes or a flushed appearance
Some types of drug use are easier to spot than others. For example, alcohol and marijuana use can be quite obvious.
Risk Factors that Increase the Risk of Teen Drug Abuse
Some children are more at risk than others to experiment with drugs. These children are exposed to more risk factors for teen drug and alcohol abuse and misuse, like:
- Co-occurring mental disorders
- Drug availability
- Lack of drug education
- Lack of parental supervision
- Poor neighborhood attachment
- Problems at home
Children who are friends with those who alcohol and other drugs are also more likely to experiment with drugs. Parents should monitor their children’s environment and surroundings to determine whether their children may be using drugs. By being more involved with your child’s life, you can eliminate many of the risk factors that result in drug use and addiction.
Side Effects of Drug Abuse
Each substance will affect the body in its own way, so you can expect various short-term and long-term side effects depending on the drug being abused. Each drug will trigger a chemical effect in the brain. The short-term effects that appear will depend on the amount of drug taken, the potency and purity of the drug, along with other factors.
The drugs can affect your child’s cognitive abilities, energy level, mood and motor function abilities. It can interfere with his or her decision making and problem-solving abilities. Some common short-term side effects that are prevalent in all types of alcohol and drugs, include:
- Difficulties concentrating
- Lack of coordination
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Nausea or vomiting
Most short-term side effects are temporary, and will not cause significant damage to your kid’s body.
Long-Term Side Effects of an Addiction
Long-term use of drugs and alcohol can result in permanent and adverse consequences. The chemical levels in the body may change permanently, and some damages are irreversible and irreparable. The extent and type of damage will depend on the substance that is being abused.
Some long-term side effects to look out for include:
- Alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis caused by long-term alcohol abuse
- Persistent psychosis due to using hallucinogens
- Liver and kidney damage from taking inhalants
If your kid is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they will carry on with misusing drugs and alcohol even if they already struggle with some of these effects. After all, an addiction is classified as compulsive use of drugs and alcohol despite facing negative consequences.
What to Do If Your Kid Is Struggling with an Addiction
If your kid is addicted to drugs, prepare to take action. Gather evidence to support your claims, and then stage an intervention. Discuss your concerns with your child, and educate them about the dangers involved with continuous teen drug abuse and use. Prolonged use can damage their physical and mental health.
Depending on the extent and severity of the withdrawals, quitting may be possible at home. Close parental supervision and discipline may be all that’s needed to stop drug and alcohol use for good.
If quitting results in the emergence of withdrawal symptoms, professional help, and addiction treatment may be necessary. Rehab will provide the resources and medical detox programs necessary to help your kid get sober. Substance abuse treatment can be incredibly effective.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Rehab Program
When choosing a rehab program for your kid, look for one that addresses the issues surrounding your kid’s age group. There are intensive outpatient programs and residential programs that offer varying levels of care at each drug rehab center.
Consider the environment, the rules and the age group of other patients at the drug and alcohol treatment facility. This may give you a better idea of the effectiveness of the program.
Rehab programs that provide counseling and various types of therapies will be more effective. Counseling and therapy target the underlying causes of an addiction. They help substance abusers learn how to identify triggers and build better habits. Some popular therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Contingency Management
- Motivational Interviewing
Some therapies mimic the same structure and hierarchy as Alcoholic Anonymous. If one or more of these therapies are incorporated into your child’s addiction treatment plan, it will increase his or her chances of becoming sober. These treatment options can treat mental illnesses and improve your child’s behavioral health.
Get Help for Your Kid as Soon as Possible
Teen addiction statistics have been on the rise for substances like marijuana and alcohol. It’s important to realize that your kids can be susceptible to addictions and alcohol and drug use. If you notice changes in his or her behavior and appearance, pay attention to their actions to get a feel for their drug use and health.
In the event that they have been abusing various substances, don’t hesitate to speak to one of our counselors to determine whether there’s an abuse treatment that will suit his or her needs. It’s better to contact us sooner rather than later. We can help work you through the various options that are available, and even assess your child’s condition and situation to determine whether he or she would benefit from rehab.