Did you Discover Your Teen is Using Drugs?
Chances are your teen’s mood swings can be attributed to the racing and changing hormones that come with adolescence. In other words, teen mood swings are normal. You’ll want to pay attention, though, if your teenage son or daughter is experiencing mood swings along with changes in behavior or appearance, such as:
- Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Isolating themselves, becoming withdrawn
- Underachieving or failing in school
- Skipping classes or not attending school
- Dropping old friends for a new group
- Acting despondent, aggressive or angry
- Sleeping more than usual
- Breaking rules
- Exhibiting physical changes like sudden weight loss, frequent nosebleeds, bloody or watery eyes, or shakes and tremors
Physical indicators of possible substance use or abuse include:
- Poor hygiene/change in appearance
- Glazed or bloodshot eyes
- Frequent runny nose or nosebleeds
- Paranoia, irritability, anxiety, fidgeting
- Changes in mood or attitude
- Difficulty staying on task/staying focused
- Small track marks on arms or legs (wears long sleeves even in warm weather)
- Pupils larger or smaller than usual
- Cold, sweaty palms or shaking hands
- Sores on mouth
- Puffy, swollen face
- Extremely tired or extremely hyperactive
- Rapid weight gain or loss
Ten facts about teen alcohol and drug abuse
- Some teens are at higher risk due to genetics, the age when they start using, and socioeconomic circumstances (and other factors).
- Casual drug use can lead to abuse and addiction, causing health issues, financial problems and legal trouble.
- Today’s marijuana is much stronger than it was in the past, making it more dangerous. And yes, marijuana is addictive.
- Many teens with addiction also have a co-occurring mental health disorder.
- A teenager’s brain is much more susceptible to addiction because it is still developing.
- Addiction, whether in a teenager or adult, is a disease. It is not a moral failing. Focus on the behavior, not the person.
- As a caregiver or parent, remind yourself: you did not cause it, you cannot control it and it cannot be cured. Addiction can, however, be managed over the course of a lifetime just like any other chronic disease, like diabetes or hypertension.
- The best prevention is to talk with your kids. Spend time with them, and let them know what your expectations are, what the rules are and what the consequences are if they break the rules. Check in regularly.
- Vaping rates, whether nicotine or THC, have increased tremendously in the last few years among teens. Vaping is not harmless.
- Addiction treatment works; lives can be restored.
Getting help for substance use
While resources vary from community to community, be assured that help is within reach. Local resources include schools, medical professionals, mental health specialists and treatment providers. If you are searching for an addiction treatment provider specializing in care for teens, start with your insurance company. They can provide you with a list of in-network treatment providers. Regardless of the program you choose, treatment should always start with a physical, as well as mental health assessments and chemical use history, to determine the appropriate level of care. Given the right treatment and support, adolescents struggling with a substance use disorder can move into happy, healthy, productive lives.