While the youth substance abuse statistics are few and far between, information from the National Institutes of Health shows that at least 7% of twelfth graders admitted to using illicit drugs in 2021, while 46% used alcohol.
It’s only natural for young people to experiment with drugs and alcohol during their teens. Yet, for some, this initial curiosity can develop into a permanent and damaging dependence on one or more substances.
How do you know if your teen is simply trying things out, or if they’re trapped in a dangerous cycle of drug and alcohol abuse? Keep reading to find out.
Signs of Teenage Substance Abuse
Personality changes are one of the first signs that your teen could be engaging in excessive drug and alcohol use. These signals may include:
- Losing touch with old friends in favor of a new group
- Despondency, aggression, or unfounded anger
- Excessive sleepiness
- Sudden weight loss, nosebleeds, shakes, and tremors
You can attribute some of the above to ordinary hormonal changes as they undergo adolescence. What’s more, addiction is a progressive disease, and these changes will evolve slowly.
It’s easy to miss the early warning signs until they’ve developed into a full-blown addiction. So, keep tabs on your children and maintain open lines of communication, so they can reach out for help when needed.
You must insist on knowing where they’re going when they leave home and check up on them from time to time. They may hate you for it at first, but it’s worth the risk.
Punishment is rarely a good option if you catch your child misusing drugs and alcohol, but knowing that you’re keeping tabs on them can prevent bad habits from starting.
Coping with Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Teens
As a parent, it’s your job to help your children grow into happy, independent adults. Alcohol and drug addiction will put paid to your best intentions.
Educating your children about the dangers of alcohol and drug addiction from a young age, and staying involved in their lives, is your best defense.
Once addiction sets in, you have no control over it. Short of locking your teen up, there’s nothing you can do to stop their addictive habits.
Educating them on the dangers of addiction and getting them to commit to rehabilitation is your best option.
Addiction recovery centers aren’t focused solely on adults. Speak to your family doctor or contact your nearest branch of Narcotics Anonymous to find out about drug rehab for teens.
Take Teen Drug Use Seriously
It’s never a good idea to let your teens discover the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse the hard way. Rather, speak with an addiction counselor as soon as you suspect something is amiss.
Excessive drug and alcohol use inevitably ends in injury, loss, and even death. Don’t let your child become another statistic. Get them the help they need right away.
You can find out more about addiction and what you can do about it by browsing the health section of our website.