Top 7 Signs Your Teen Is Using Drugs

Teenage drug use
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The vast majority of parents who eventually discover a teen’s drug problem never predicted it could be a problem in their family. Many of the warning signs of drug use can often be shrugged off as normal teenage behavior. It’s important to look for warning signs of potential drug use – even if you think your child would never use drugs. Early intervention is key to addressing the problem before it becomes a lifelong addiction.

Here are the top signs that your teen may be using drugs:

1. Changes in Daily Habits

One of the biggest warning signs of drug use is a change in routine. A teen who normally enjoys spending time with friends and family may begin isolating himself. Drug use may also have the opposite effect – a teen may begin spending more time with friends and breaking curfew more often.

Although it’s normal for teens to want privacy, increased secretive behavior can be a red flag. Warning parents to stay out of the bedroom or spending increased time behind locked doors could signal drug use. Sleep habits frequently change as well. A teen may begin sleeping a lot during the day or may begin staying up all hours of the night.

2. Changes to Personal Appearance

Drug problems tend to lead to poor hygiene. A teen who is abusing substances may stop caring about his appearance altogether. Odd wardrobe changes can also be a red flag.

A teen may wear long sleeves in warm weather to cover up track marks on his arms, for example.

Sudden weight changes can also signal a problem. While marijuana use may lead a teen to weight gain, other drug use may lead to sudden weight loss.

3. Problems with School

Drug use tends to cause teens to lose motivation.

Truancy may become a problem and your teen may refuse to complete his work. Failing grades and a loss of interest in extra-curricular activities can also be warning signs.

Behavior problems may also increase. A teen who is using drugs may become more defiant toward teachers or may lack the motivation to participate in class appropriately.

4. Relationship Problems

Teens who begin using drugs often change their social circles. A teen may begin hanging out with the wrong crowd and may struggle to get along with other peers. Your teen may refuse to talk to you or may become increasingly disrespectful and rude.

5. Health Issues

Drug use can lead to a multitude of health issues. Nosebleeds, a constant runny nose, and sweatiness are a few common symptoms. A teen who is using drugs may complain about headaches and feeling sick more often. You may also see sores on your teen’s face.

6. Mood Swings

It’s important to be on the lookout for strange changes in your teen’s emotional state. While mood swings are common among adolescents, excessive changes in mood could be a sign of something more serious.

While some drugs cause hyperactivity and elated mood, others lead to depression.

7. Changes in Attitude

Drugs can turn a normally cooperative teen into a defiant, angry, and hostile person. Monitor your teen’s attitude about school, chores, extra-curricular activities, friends, and the future. If he loses interest or begins expressing a negative attitude about things he previously enjoyed, it could be a red flag that something more serious is going on.

It’s important to have ongoing conversations with your teen about drugs and alcohol. Even if you don’t think your teen is using substances, changes to your teen’s mood or behavior could signal a mental health problem – like depression. Seek professional help by talking to your teen’s doctor or a mental health professional if you're concerned about potential substance abuse issues or mental health problems.

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