Drug abuse in teenagers

Signs Your Teen Is Abusing Drugs

Articles, Australia, Education, International, LGBTQ, Malaysia, Understanding Addiction, United Kingdom, United States

It could be frightening and even unbelievable to imagine that your child, who you watched growing up might be using drugs or drinking. Drug abuse in teenagers is a very real problem. Drug and alcohol use among teenagers has become a major public health issue.

Child drug abuse statistics

Statistics from the US government and other independent surveys have reported over the past couple of years that by 8th grade, 15% of children have used marijuana. Around 64% of teenagers admitted to have used prescription painkillers they got from a friend or a family member. Some 28% of teenagers know at least one person who has tried ecstasy and 7.6% of teenagers use the prescription drug Adderall. 68.1% of high school seniors view smoking marijuana as normal. About 50% of high school seniors have abused a drug of some kind. Nearly 44% of high school students know a friend who sells drugs. Marijuana and alcohol are the most commonly abused drugs among teenagers.

The truth in these results are staggering! Drug use in teens can cause them health problems throughout the rest of their lives. Understanding the signs of drug abuse is vital as it could save your child’s life. If you’re worried that your child may be abusing drugs, here are some warning signs to look out for.

  1. Changes in normal habits

According to a publication in Innovations In Clinical Neuroscience, “one of the earliest warning signs that predicts teenage drug use is changes in behavior and mannerism.”

The first thing you’ll most probably notice is a change in your teen’s regular habits. This is easy to spot. Some of these changes include withdrawal from family and friends, sudden change of friends, lack of communication and isolation or disinterest in activities they were previously enthusiastic about. As easy as it is to spot these events, it may however be the easiest not to recognise because they could seem like isolated events. Sometimes, you may only be able to notice something is amiss when you see several of these deviation occurring simultaneously. Your child might also be involved in stealing money or other items from around the house. This is a likely sign that they need money to buy more drugs.

  1. Mood changes

Most teenagers who abuse drugs in some way may become more dramatic or irrational in their actions. Your child may become more irritable, verbally abusive, or even violent with you or other children in the household and neighborhood. Your child may also start to threaten to drop out of school, destroy property or run away from home. On the other hand, apathy, mood instability and depression shouldn’t be taken lightly because they are also signs of potential drug abuse. If your child begins to withdraw from others and starts spending more time alone. It could be a sign that the child is abusing a substance.

  1. Physical changes

The use of drugs causes some noticeable physical changes in the body. This is because drug use takes a physical toll on the body. Some of the physical signs of drug abuse include: Bloodshot eyes, widely dilated pupils, sudden weight loss (or weight gain), poor hygiene, frequent nosebleeds, shakes or tremors, red flushed cheeks, bruises or other drowsiness or fatigue, unexplained injuries, etc.

  1. Possession of drug paraphernalia 

This is the most definitive sign that your child is abusing drugs. If items such as weight scales, butane torches, bongs, smoking pipes, cigarette lighters, hypodermic needles, small porcelain bowls, balloons, and vials are found in their possession. It is a definitive sign of drug abuse.


Many of the behaviors associated with those substances (e.g. moodiness) may just be part of going through young adulthood. However, you need to study the child more closely in case it proves to be otherwise. As a parent or guardian, the future and safety of your child is in your hand because you may be the only person able to notice something amiss behind the scenes. Look for these signs, and help your child to be drug free.

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