Parents of teenagers have the difficult task of helping their child grow and develop into a successful, happy adult, while ensuring their safety. Drug and alcohol abuse certainly are a threat to any teen’s safety and well-being, and parents often find themselves unprepared for the possibility their child is experimenting with drugs.
It happens time and again: parents are caught off guard when they find out their teen has been using drugs or alcohol. They may have seen the warning signs and just ignored them, or they might be in denial that their child could get caught up with substance abuse. Many parents simply don’t know what to be looking for, so they miss the important signs that should alert them to a problem.
Are you concerned that your child is using drugs or alcohol? Are you prepared for the possibility that they could be using substances and in danger right now? There are significant and easy-to-recognize signs every parent should be watching for. If you notice one or more signs, a problem is definitely brewing and the possibility of current or future drug use is high. We encourage you to observe closely, take action, and really communicate about these following areas with your child. It could save your child’s life and you from so much heartache.
- Changes in personality and activities. The teenage years are a time of change, a time when the young adult starts to really discover who they are. When your child changes, it is sometimes hard to tell if it is a natural part of growing up, or if there might be a drug problem. A drop in grades and poor hygiene are some of the first signs that your teen might be using drugs. Changes in behavior, friends, hobbies, motivation, attitude, and respect for authority can be signs of drug or alcohol use, especially when occurring suddenly without explanation or in connection with other signs listed here.
- Legal, employer, or school infraction (whether caught or not). As a teen becomes controlled by substances or even drug addiction and the desire to get high, they might go to great lengths to get more of their substance. If your teen is getting into trouble with the law or at school, there is cause for concern. Stealing, getting into fights, and disrespecting authority can all be the direct result of your teen’s drug abuse.
- Losing interest or motivation in longer-term goals. A young adult should naturally have goals and aspirations. This is an exciting time in their lives as they look forward to and plan for their future. If your teen has suddenly lost interest in their long term goals and plans, or lowered their expectations for themselves, you should be concerned enough to find out why. It could be that drugs are sapping away their hope for the future and other goals and their focus is restricted to their next high or reality escape.
- Moving away from God and spiritual interests and growth. A teen that has had a strong spiritual life and suddenly moves away from God and their spiritual interests and growth might have something serious going on their life. Many teens who are involved with substance use pull away from their faith because they feel guilty deep down for what they are doing, or they might just become too controlled by drugs to care about things that used to have real meaning to them.
- Increased Stress. Be aware of your child’s emotional well-being. If they seem particularly stressed over a certain situation or the amount of pressure they feel in life, help them find healthy ways to reduce and deal with that stress. A high stress level is not healthy, and if not dealt with well, your child will turn to quick fix, self-soothing options like chemicals to take the edge off.
- Defending a peer who is using alcohol or drugs. A child who defends someone else’s drug or alcohol use is also cause for concern. They might have become numb to the thought of using drugs or alcohol because they are already using these things themselves. Do not overlook this potential warning sign.
- Mentioning their use of drugs on social media. Social media is a good place to check up on your teen. Monitor their account and look for any signs of drug or alcohol use. Pictures, posts, and comments can all give you a glimpse into your teen’s mind, viewing both their attitude and engagement with substances and other dangerous behaviors.
- Finding drugs, paraphernalia, or alcohol in their possession. If you find drugs or alcohol, or drug paraphernalia like syringes, pipes, tourniquets, or bongs in your teen’s possession (room, backpack, or locker), it is time to take action. Many teens who are doing drugs will become suddenly secretive because they don’t want to get caught. If you find these things, don’t let your teen make excuses as to why they have them. Don’t ignore signs like this – get help as soon as you can.
No parent wants to suspect their child is using drugs or alcohol, but it is important to do something about it if it does occur. Lighthouse Network can help you as a parent get the right treatment for your teen. We are here to provide you with information, resources, and the support you need to get through this difficult time.
To understand addictions, for more information, helpful tips, and obstacles to avoid, click this link for my eBook, How to Help Your Addicted Child, for $0.99 on amazon.
If your child is using drugs, there is hope for your teen and your family, but action must be taken now to turn the situation around and decrease the risk of harm to your child, family, or innocent bystanders. Call one of our Lighthouse Network Care Guides today at 844-Life-Change (844-543-3242) for treatment options.