No parent wants their teen to experiment with drugs and alcohol, but many do—and some develop dangerous addictions. Some of the signs can be difficult to find or may be confused with something else. For example, although bloodshot eyes are a sign of drug addiction, your teen may have allergies. If you suspect your teen has an addiction, here are some of the most common and reliable signs.
School or Work-Related Problems
One of the first signs of addiction can be found in grades or work habits. Your teen may inexplicably drop out of extracurricular activities he or she once enjoyed. His or her grades will probably go down; watch for severe drops, especially in former favorite subjects. Teachers or supervisors may complain. Keep an eye on this, especially if your teen hasn’t been in trouble before. In some cases, truancy is an issue.
Many times, teens engaging in substance abuse will pull away from old friends because they don’t want those friends finding out or reporting the truth. Ask often about your teen’s friends. If he or she is suddenly avoiding a close friend, talk about why. Additionally, watch for signs that your teen is socializing with people who use drugs or alcohol, such as suspicious smells on breath or clothing.
As noted, some physical signs may have origins other than drug abuse; however, don’t neglect them in determining if your teen is using. Watch for decreased coordination and frequent vague explanations for injuries. Sudden weight loss or gain is another symptom, as is frequent queasiness and sores around the mouth. Your teen may develop nosebleeds or seizures without a medical history or begin sleeping too little or too much.