7 Warning Signs of Teen Drug Addiction

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Up to 8% of teenagers have used illicit drugs other than marijuana in the past year, which may not be such a surprising number. Kids get curious, and it’s common for them to experiment with drinking and drugs in high school.

However, as with adults, there’s a slippery slope going from casual use to full-blown addiction. And seeing your child succumb to drug abuse can be devastating.

But by being proactive and vigilant, you can catch things before they become completely destructive. Read on for seven warning signs of teen drug addiction you should watch out for.

1. Changes in Their Physical Appearance

Drug abuse will manifest as noticeable physical changes in your teen. They’ll differ depending on what substances they’re using.

In general, sudden weight loss or gain can be a sign of drug addiction, although it can also indicate possible health issues with your child. This goes hand-in-hand with rapid appetite changes.

In addition, you might notice that their eyes are bloodshot, and/or their pupils are dilated or constricted. They may have frequent nosebleeds and unexplained bruises or marks too.

Again, these can all be signs of health problems, so take these signs as small pieces to a bigger puzzle.

2. Neglecting Personal Appearance and Hygiene

People who are in active drug addiction start to neglect their personal appearance and hygiene. This is because chasing that high is their first and only priority.

It’s telling if your teen used to take pride in their looks but suddenly stopped with grooming habits. They may be wearing unclean or disheveled clothing, and are failing to do basic hygiene practices, such as brushing their teeth and showering.

These can also be signs of depression; 20% of teenagers have symptoms of it. So use your best judgment to determine if your child is struggling with mental health or substances (it can be both too).

3. Changes in Their Behaviors and Moods

Teenagers can already be quite moody, but add drugs into the mix, and they can be very unpredictable. Keep an eye out for abrupt shifts in mood, increased irritability or hostility, and secretive behavior.

It’s likely your kid is having extreme mood swings because they’re in between fixes. They’ll be highly irritable when they’ve come down from their last high and are looking for their next. Then, they’ll become extremely pleasant when they’ve scratched that itch.

Your teen may also engage in risky behaviors, break their curfew, and get in trouble with the law. One of the biggest addiction signs is if they have a disregard for personal safety, as their judgment is clouded by substances.

Plus, they may have impaired coordination, especially when they’re actively high or are coming down from one.

4. Changes in Sleep Patterns

Teens are notorious for bad sleeping habits; they’ll stay up all night to play video games, then go to school as zombies. Or they may sleep all afternoon because they’re tired from their growing bodies and changes.

However, if your child’s had good sleeping habits before and have suddenly changed to having bad insomnia or excessive sleepiness, they may be dealing with drug addiction. Depending on what they’re taking, they may stay up all night (stimulants) or sleep all day (opioids).

5. Loss of Interest in Hobbies

If your kid was enthusiastic about hobbies or sports, but no longer indulges in them, then that’s a huge red flag. Most likely, there’s something wrong if they abandon longtime hobbies and sports.

This is yet another sign that overlaps with mental health issues, so you may want to evaluate any other things you see in your child before assuming they’re on drugs. If you want to speak with them about your concerns, make sure you do it in a caring and open way instead of being judgmental or accusatory. This can backfire and cause your teen to push away from you.

6. Social Isolation or Sudden New Friend Groups

Because pursuing highs is their first and only priority, your kid may withdraw from social activities and lose touch with their regular friend group. But this can also be a symptom of depression, so keep a watchful eye on your child.

What can be alarming is if they abandon their longtime friend group and join a new social circle that uses drugs. This is highly indicative that they’re seeking connections to score illicit drugs.

7. Decline in Academic and Work Performance

Has your teen always had good grades, but recent report cards show a significant drop in their scores? Then they may have a drug addiction.

School and work will be things they won’t care about if your child is doing drugs. Part of socially withdrawing means they may not even attend class or will miss their shifts.

It’s common for drug-addicted teenagers to have a lack of interest in school activities, and they may have a sudden disinterest in extracurricular activities they previously enjoyed.

Be on the Lookout for Teen Drug Addiction Signs

It’s true that many of the signs of addiction can also be signs of mental health issues. This is why it’s up to you as a responsible parent to discern between them to determine whether you have teen drug addiction on your hands.

The important thing is to have safe discussions with your teenager to ensure they feel comfortable opening up to you. You never know what they’re struggling with, and you’re the adult they turn to.

If you want to get your child into drug addiction recovery, then contact us today. All inquiries are confidential, and we’re here for you 24/7.