As a parent, it can be scary to consider that your child may be drinking, vaping, or using drugs. Are you aware of the common issues that teens face? While teen mood swings are normal, behavioral and physical changes can be warning signs of drug abuse and addiction.
Drugs affect many areas of a teen’s life. Mixing alcohol with other drugs can also lead to dangerous effects. Pay attention to changes in mood and personality, behavior, appearance, and physical health.
Changes in mood and personality
Drugs affect your teen’s mental health. Drugs interfere with chemicals in the brain, arousing certain emotions and dampening others.
Your teen may be:
Withdrawn or depressed
Hostile or uncooperative
Secretive or deceitful
Unable to focus
Changes in behavior
Drugs can change the way teens act. Drugs cause mood swings, risky behavior, and increased need for privacy, Drug abuse and addiction can make drugs the focus of a person’s life, changing how they interact with friends and family.
Your teen may experience:
Drop in grades or misbehavior at school
Change in friend group or not spending time with people they were once close to
Going out at night or disappearing for long periods of time
Changes in appearance
Drug use can cause short-term and long-term effects on how someone looks. Over time, a teen on drugs may show noticeable changes in appearance.
Changes in appearance can include:
Unexplained bruises, wounds, or track marks on arms
Rapid or slurred speech
Careless hygiene or disheveled appearance
Drugs affect the body and can lead to lasting damage. Drugs can have serious short-term and long-term effects.
If your child is showing signs of drug addiction or alcohol abuse, it’s important you talk to them and seek a treatment program. Despite the myth that all teens experiment, casual drug use and unhealthy patterns can quickly develop into full-blown substance use disorder.
Dangers of Teen Substance Abuse
The consequences of drinking and using drugs are real. Even brief amounts of drug use in teens can cause serious harm to teen’s health and well-being.
Effects of Drugs on on the Brain
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the teenage brain is susceptible to addiction. People who start drinking in their teens are more likely to develop alcohol dependence.
Damaging connections within the brain
Reducing ability to feel pleasure
Creating problems with memory
Higher risk of mental health issues like depression, suicide, and psychosis
Poor Impulse Control
Drinking alcohol and using drugs can encourage to poor decision-making, leading to:
Damaged relationships with friends or family members
If you have any reason to suspect your teen is using drugs or drinking alcohol, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution and have a talk with your teen. Prepare to take action by getting information to talk with your teen about drugs and their effects.
Learn About Teen Substance Abuse with Parent-Wise
Our online Parent-Wise course helps you build awareness about teen issues like alcohol and drugs, as well as the positive parenting skills to have meaningful conversations with your teen.
In Parent-Wise, you’ll learn about:
Prescription drug misuse
Motives for substance abuse
You’ll also learn related skills that can help you and your child respond effectively to substance abuse:
Healthy coping skills
Building self-esteem and connecting with values
Dealing with peer pressure
Communication skills for effective expression
Developing positive relationships
Here’s what parents had to say about our substance abuse resource:
"The course was good and informative. It gives me a reason to start a discussion about drug and alcohol use. I learned some new things and was reminded of others.”
"This course was amazing. I wish I would have had this course when my oldest daughter was a teen and experimenting with alcohol and prescription drugs."