Is Your Teenager at Risk for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse? Spot the Signs

By The Care Centers. Posted on Wed Mar 02 2016

Once your child reaches a certain age, you can expect them to start to distance themselves, test boundaries, and rebel at least a little bit. So how can you tell if you have a normal teen who’s figuring the world out and testing your limits versus one who’s gone over the limit and is at risk for alcoholism and drug abuse? Look for these signs and symptoms.

Changes in Appearance and Hygiene
Your kids will likely experiment with new fashions, and with changes in their bodies, they may smell worse if they don’t shower every day. However, while these normal changes are to be expected, look out for more worrisome changes. Are your teens cheeks often flushed red? Do they have bloodshot eyes? Have they started wearing long sleeves and pants to hide track marks on their arms and/or legs? Has their hygiene suddenly become much worse than it was before?

Sudden Changes of Habit or Behavior
If your teen has started clenching or grinding their teeth, it could be due to the use of an upper, like cocaine or methamphetamines. If they’ve suddenly started wearing a lot of heavy cologne, they could be experimenting with a new scent, or they could be trying to cover the smell of marijuana or alcohol. Note when they use this new scent and how they’re acting when you smell it on them.

Breaking curfew frequently, especially after you’ve talked with them or punished them is another sign that they may be using illegal substances or drinking. Watch out for these behavioral changes, as well as reckless driving, avoiding eye contact, missing cash, and other suspect behaviors.

Problems at School or Work
A sudden issue with truancy or lost interest in homework and projects could be a sign of substance abuse. Look for failures to commit to or follow through on responsibilities for either school or work, and keep an ear out for complaints from teachers or supervisors. If your child is reported as being intoxicated while at school or work, then they are definitely at risk for alcoholism and/or drug abuse.

Negative Effects on Their Health
With or without these other signs, be on the lookout for a decline in your teen’s health. Symptoms that could be signs of drug use or alcohol abuse include unexplained stuffiness or a runny nose, nosebleeds, vomiting, sores on the mouth, excessive thirst (“cotton mouth”), excessive bruising on the arms or legs, sweatiness, and/or dramatic weight loss or gain. Basically, be on the lookout for any unexplained changes in your child’s health. They could be signs that your child needs help with alcohol and substance abuse, or there could be another issue that needs attention.

If you’ve observed any or all of these signs, talk with your teen today and reach out to a rehab facility near you for help. Alcohol and drugs are not just youthful experiments – your child’s health and life are on the line if they’re using these substances.

Tags: Mental Health