5 Signs of Teen Drug Addiction (And What You Can Do to Help)

Did you know that most adults who now suffer from drug addiction first experimented with drugs before they turned 21? It’s true. 31% percent of adults tried at least one illegal drug by age 17, with 10% trying hard drugs by the same age. 

Defining addiction is tricky, and knowing how to help is even harder. 

We want to show you some of the ways you can tell if the teenager in your life is using or addicted to drugs. Read on to find out how you can help.

Defining Addiction

In order to pinpoint a drug addiction definition, we need to first look at a few things.

While no single factor affects whether or not a person will develop a drug addiction, there are a few risk factors to consider.

A lack of parental supervision, community poverty, and the availability of drugs at school all contribute to the likelihood of drug dependency. This is especially true if the child witnessed aggressive behavior in their developmental years or wasn’t taught peer refusal skills.

Why Do People Take Drugs?

There can be a number of reasons why people start taking drugs, and even more reasons why they continue. A few of the top ones are:

  • To feel good
  • To feel better and less stressed
  • To perform better
  • Social pressure and curiosity 

When someone first starts using drugs or alcohol, they likely believe they can control any subsequent cravings but drugs can rapidly take over a person’s life. 

The Top Five Signs of Drug Addiction in Teens

While it may be frightening to think that your child might be using drugs, it’s important to understand the signs. Teenage drug use can cause significant complications throughout their adult life and it should be addressed promptly. Let’s take a look:

1. Bad Grades

When a teen who previously did well or excellently at school suddenly starts slipping, it can be a sign that they are engaging in activities outside of school that impact their studies.

2. Loss of Interest in Previously Engaging Activities

In the same way that drug addiction creates apathy around studying, it can also significantly decrease someone’s desire to do things that once interested them. Whether it’s extracurricular activities or things they used to enjoy doing at home, a loss of interest can be a big clue that your teen is struggling.

3. Secretive Behavior

When they start hiding things from you, acting strange and squirrelly, and don’t seem to communicate where they are or have been, you can take it as a sign that something is wrong. Your teenager is likely trying to hide something from you and this should be noted.

4. Significant Changes in Behavior

Anything from sudden unusual tiredness to missed curfews can signal big behavioral changes. When you notice major facets of their personality seemingly changing overnight, it’s indicative of addiction or a deterioration in their mental health. They both unfortunately feed on one another.

5. The Deterioration of Personal Appearance

Poor hygiene or just a general loss of interest in making oneself presentable is often an indicator that something is wrong. Appearance is largely tied to identity, and this is especially true for teenagers. When you notice a dip here, you need to pay attention.

What You Can Do to Help

If you find yourself in a situation where you may be concerned, you can ask a few straightforward questions. It’s important to do this in a non-threatening tone. It’s also especially important at this point to not beat around the bush. 

You should ask outright, “Have you been using drugs or alcohol?” You could even ask, “Has anyone offered you drugs recently?” 

This can be enough to get the conversation started in the right way. The way you respond to their admission (or denial) is just as valuable as asking the right questions. 

At this stage, you’re probably wondering, “Is drug addiction a disease?” The reality of the situation is that, yes, it is.

If you’re able to talk with your teenager or feel seriously concerned, have a read about teen rehab centers and what they can do to help.

Where to Now?

Ultimately, you shouldn’t overreact when speaking to your teen about drug addiction. Lashing out or reacting poorly is only going to prevent them from opening up about their experiences.

Teens who feel loved and supported are more likely to stop experimenting and reach out for help.

Get in touch with us today if you’re concerned about the struggling teen in your life.

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