Raising a teenager is never easy, and parenting a teen can be an ongoing challenge. One serious risks for teens is drug abuse. Parents who recognize the early signs of drug use may be able to halt the process before it does severe damage. Here are some warning signs that may signal drug abuse:
1. Increased Secretive Behavior
If your teen begins abusing drugs, their behavior will often become more secretive. They may retreat to their room become protective of their belongings, and may hide their activities. If your teen has a car, this desire for secrecy can lead them to try to tint the windows as darkly as possible. However, some state laws may prevent this; for example, Arizona requires that a car’s front side windows must permit more than one-third of the light in.
2. Decrease in Activities
You can begin to suspect the influence of drug abuse when you see a noticeable change in activities. You might see your teen – who previously couldn’t wait to participate in sports or go to the mall with friends – retreat to their room and hide under their covers. Names of their friends that used to pepper their conversations are conspicuously absent. Their choice of clothing may also be different; a daughter who was once a fashion fanatic may suddenly be slouching around in wrinkled jeans.
3. Changes in School Work
If your teen begins to abuse drugs, it can’t help but negatively affect their grades. However, before you get that subpar report card, you’ll probably have received communication from their teachers. The effects of drugs the student has done, plus the preoccupation with where their next drugs are coming from will lead them to stop handing in school assignments. Your teen’s teacher may also express concern about a decrease in-class participation.
4. Presence of Physical Changes
The longer your teen abuses drugs, the more the effects of those drugs will affect their appearance. According to Hazelden Betty Ford Clinic, drug abuse often results in glazed eyes and runny noses. Drug abuse also causes extreme weight loss – to the point of emaciation. Your teen may look jittery, and they may have cold, sweaty palms.
5. Discovery of Drugs or Drug Paraphernalia
If your teen abuses drugs long enough, they will eventually reveal their habit. You may see evidence of drug paraphernalia or see their drugs. You should be aware that, according to the NCDAS, there are over 1.1 million arrests in the U.S. each year for the sale, possession, or creation of illegal drugs. An arrest may, unfortunately, lead to a wake-up call your teen may need.
6. Shifts in Behavior
When your teen is abusing drugs, they often become more dramatic. Their irritability will increase, and they’ll begin to get into arguments with others. This could lead to further legal problems. For example, a conviction for assault and battery could result in up to 93 days in jail, plus probationary costs, plus costs for the court.
7. Misuse of Money
Using drugs costs money, and your teen must get that money somewhere. They may frequently ask you for money, under various subterfuges, or you may notice money missing from your wallet. You might also notice missing jewelry, appliances, utensils, or other belongings. Your teen could eventually be arrested for theft.
As parents, you may see signs that indicate drug abuse in your teens. Talk to your child first, and express your concerns about the changes you see. However, if they resist your concern, family and friends may be led to do an intervention for your teen. If your continued efforts are ineffective, you might contact the school counselor or another adult your teen has respect for.