If there is one thing that happens in all teens it’s that once in awhile they can be moody and rebellious and it can feel like their personality is shifting from one person to another. This can make if difficult for parents to see the signs that something is wrong. But many teenagers who are struggling with mental health issues, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems need their parents to see that they are struggling so that they can get the help they need.
When it comes to the use and abuse of drugs, it is crucial that parents are able to recognize that there is a problem, identify the problem, and get their teen the help they need to get clean and get their lives back on track.
Know when to be worried, what to look for, what questions to ask, and when to step in by reviewing these common signs of teenage drug use and abuse.
1. New Friends or No Friends
If your teenager suddenly stops hanging out with the people they have always spent time with, it is time to pay attention. If your teen starts hanging around with a completely new set of friends, it is time to ask questions. If your teen goes from having lots of friends to spending more time alone, there may be something going on.
2. Hating School
If your typical A or B student suddenly starts bringing home D’s and F’s or your teen starts complaining about how much they hate school all the time, you should pay attention and try to determine what is going on. If your teen starts skipping school, dropping out of sports or other activities, or develops a negative attitude towards all things related to school, they may be struggling and need your help.
If your generally laid back teenager suddenly becomes very angry when you put her laundry away, there may be cause for concern. While many teenagers go through phases of needing additional privacy during these years, anger can be a sign that they are hiding something serious, like drugs.
Similar to the adoption of stricter concerns about privacy, when teens start using drugs they can become more secretive about their lives, their whereabouts, who they are talking to, etc. If your previously open and friendly teenager starts offering ambiguous answers and giving primarily vague responses, it may be time to find out why.
Another change that teenagers often exhibit when they become involved with drugs is an increase in the amount of money they need. If your teen seems to be borrowing money all the time or keeps asking if there are ways to earn money working around the house, you need to understand why.
All of these signs may indicate a problem with drug use or may be just a normal shift in your teen’s behavior. The key to knowing when to worry and when to step back is looking for other things in their lives that might be influencing their change in behavior. For example, a bunch of new friends would be normal for a teen that just joined a new club or started playing a sport. Watching for the signs, asking lots of questions, and listening to your parental instincts are the best things you can do to keep your kids safe.
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