Detecting Teen Alcohol and Drug Addiction
Adolescence is full of a multitude of challenges for both teens and their parents. One of the biggest challenges parents may have to face is that their teen could end up with a problem with addiction. Whether the substance being abused is alcohol, nicotine, prescription drugs or street drugs, addiction is a real threat in the lives of young people.
Experimenting with drugs or alcohol during adolescence isn’t new to today’s teens. A growing trend that puts a lot of teens at risk is how easy it is to obtain mind-altering substances, along with the wide variety of substances that are available. Parents have to educate themselves on the many different substances that could be affecting their teens and the many ways teens may be able to get hold of them.
The Many Reasons Teens Do Drugs
There are many reasons a teen may become addicted to drugs or alcohol. For many adolescents, experimenting with alcohol or drugs is something of a rite of passage. When teens first start using drugs, it could be caused by things as simple as curiosity or peer pressure. Some teens use drugs to relieve stress or to improve academic or athletic performance. If drugs successfully relieve bad feelings or improve performance, teens may begin relying on substances more and more without even realizing it.
Some teens experience problems with depression or anxiety and may turn to drugs or alcohol because of inner turmoil. A teen is faced with volatile and unpredictable emotions, and if he or she discovers that drugs or alcohol can subdue those emotions, it won’t take long before drug abuse isn’t an experiment but a habit.
Where Teens are Getting Drugs
Drugs are easier to obtain than ever before. Without much effort, many teens are able to find prescription medication or alcohol at home or at the home of a friend or neighbor. Teens learn how easy it is to find street drugs from each other.
In today’s world, an additional threat is the Internet and social media. Instead of having to seek out drug dealers on a dark street in a bad neighborhood, in their bedroom teens may run into online peddlers.
The Tell-Tale Signs of Alcoholism and Addiction
If your teen comes home staggering, bleary-eyed or reeking of the smell or alcohol or pot, it isn’t too hard to figure out that he or she may have a problem, particularly if this happens regularly. There are many other signs of addiction that are more subtle. These include:
- Hanging around with a whole new set of friends
- Being secretive about activities
- Problems with academics or behavior
- Changes in sleeping habits or appetite
- Isolating or withdrawing from social activities
- Mood swings or personality changes
- Neglecting hygiene or personal appearance
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Irritability, agitation or hyperactivity
- Lethargy, loss of interest in things that used to be important
Abusing substances can cause teens to do things they wouldn’t do if they were sober, such as stealing money or items from family members. They may participate in risky behavior and begin to have legal problems such as getting arrested for DUI or disorderly conduct.
Suspect Your Teen Has a Drug Problem?
Realizing a teen has a problem with drugs or alcohol can be an overwhelming experience for parents. You may have the urge to look the other way and hope the problem will go away.
Addiction is a problem that doesn’t typically go away without help. It’s important that you confront your child and let him or her know that you know what is going on. Monitor where your teen is going and lay down rules about when he or she must return home or face consequences. Be prepared to enforce any consequences you set.
You may find that you can’t get through to him or her. There may be defiance, hostility and refusal to listen. If that happens, reach out for help from a doctor, counselor or addiction professional. Get help not only for your teen but for yourself. Learn all you can about addiction and recovery. People can and do recover from drug addiction, and your teen can recover too.