5 Warning Signs of Substance Abuse in Your Child

Being a teenager isn’t easy, and as a parent, raising one isn’t much easier. 

This period of a person’s life is full of massive mental, emotional and physical developments; difficulties relating to parents and feeling isolated from peers — not to mention the surge of hormones that came in full force and forever changed how you see everyone around you.

With the number of teenagers who distance themselves in high school (as a result of the natural life changes we mentioned above), it can be difficult to identify when your teenager is being themselves, or when they’re showing symptoms of a deeper issue like substance abuse.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at adolescent substance abuse and break down the top five warning signs of substance abuse so you can recognize when they need help.

Signs of substance abuse

If you notice your child exhibiting one or several of the below warning signs, the safest thing you can do is take them to a professional for an assessment. 

1. Extreme mood or personality changes

If your normally laid-back child suddenly becomes volatile when surrounded by loving family members, that’s a reason to suspect a deeper issue your teen may be struggling with. One of the main reasons teen addiction goes undiagnosed is the frequency that their telling behavior is written off as hormones. It’s not always clear which one it is, so consider the other signs.

2. Misconduct or legal trouble

This could be as minor as engaging in uncharacteristic disruptions or confrontations at school, or as serious as stealing from a business or driving under the influence. These occasions are often a sign of a greater underlying issue and should be taken seriously.

3. Neglected relationships with loved ones

People like to seek out people from the same company; that’s why individuals struggling with substance abuse withdraw from their friends and family. If your teen starts disappearing for long periods of time and frequently, as well as neglecting their relationships, it might be a sign they’ve developed a new, less healthy circle of friends.

4. A “nothing matters” attitude

This might look like overall low energy and sullen behavior, a lack of involvement in social activities, neglected relationships or the mistreatment of loved ones, as well as an overall apathetic approach to life.

5. Finding substance paraphernalia

Sometimes this is as obvious as outright drugs or alcohol in your child’s possessions — room, book bag, purse, etc. Other times, it might be “pieces” of the habit, such as smoking pipes, cigarette lighters, hypodermic needles or vials.

In addition, the findings pr paraphernalia can be combined with physical signs of drug abuse which include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Pupils larger or smaller than normal
  • Unusual smells on their breath, clothing or body
  • Impaired or disjointed coordination
  • A lack of hygienic care (such as not brushing hair or taking showers)

If you’ve observed one or several of the above signs in your teen, send us a message

If a substance use disorder or addiction is present in your teen, interventions and “home remedies” can cause more harm than good. In the most tragic cases, they even prove to be fatal, such as in the cases of children experiencing extreme withdrawal effects that the parents are not equipped to handle.

We know this can be a scary time, but it’s important to stay grounded and focused.

Speak with an advisor today

Mazzitti & Sullivan is a leading provider of full-spectrum counseling services and substance use treatment to adolescents, teens and adults. Our fully licensed staff combines evidence-based practices with goal-based therapy to bring healing to individuals as well as their families.

Our therapists are specifically trained in adolescent counseling, and they are committed to supporting and guiding both you and your teen through the addiction process. In the cases where your teen might be struggling with both a co-existing mental health condition and addiction, we also offer dual diagnosis treatment.

If you suspect your teen is struggling with a substance use disorder, send us a message today and one of our compassionate advisors will be in touch to learn more about you and share just how we can help you and your family during this time.