teenage drug abuse

drug abuse in teens

It is reported that teenage drug abuse affects almost half of all seniors in high school to some extent.

This doesn’t of course mean they are experimenting themselves but it can mean they are affected by someone else’s drug use. The best way you can safeguard your teen or to help them if they begin experimenting is to educate yourself.



Using a drug can cause physical changes in the brain that can make the person crave it.

The brain cells use neurotransmitters to communicate with each other, which are made of chemicals. Drugs interrupt this process by making temporary structural changes inside the brain cells.

These changes can affect motor skills, like walking; thinking, mood and the ability to remember.

Addiction can occur. Since their brains are still developing drug abuse can harm their ability to concentrate and cause depression or anxiety. Their judgment may become impaired, leading them to make risky decisions that may impact their future.

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Teenage drug abuse has both physical and behavioral signs that can clue you in to what is going on. Some of the behavioral signs may be:

  • Low self-esteem, not caring
  • Restless, irritable moods; being discontent
  • Telling lies or half truths more frequently
  • Change in personality or attitude with no apparent cause
  • Lack of interest in hobbies or subjects that they used to enjoy
  • Lack of interest in family activities and family members
  • Lack of interest in personal appearance
  • Overreacting to situations; being oversensitive or paranoid
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Changing their friends
  • Declining grades and school attendance
  • Loss of concentration; problems remembering or retaining information
  • Wanting to be alone for long periods of time; sneaky behavior
  • Increased need for money; missing items around the house

physical signs

Some physical signs of teenage drug abuse include:

  • Different sleeping patterns; either sleeping too much or very little
  • Shaky hands, tremors or twitches
  • Constant case of a runny nose or red nose
  • Watery, streaked, itchy eyes not related to allergy season; pupils dilated or extremely tiny
  • Blood pressure extremes; heart rate changes
  • Appetite extremes; either hungry all the time or no interest at all; rapid weight gain or loss
  • Poor coordination
  • Night sweats or cold, clammy palms
  • “Medicine smell” to the breath or perspiration

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Most Commonly Used Drugs

What Can Be Done

Try to communicate with your teen if you suspect teenage drug abuse. Ignoring it is possibly the worst thing you can do. It won’t go away by itself.

It is important to remember that every sign of drug abuse can be caused by other issues such as depression or anxiety. You may want to consider professional help and education.

A colleague of mine, ‘Counselor Ken’ offers the following advice:

‘It’s important to tell children what you expect of them and what the consequences will be if they don’t meet your expectations. Make sure that they understand, and that you are serious. Let them know what will happen if they don’t honor your expectations.

Choose consequences that are immediate, realistic and important to your children. If your consequences are too severe, you may find it hard to follow through. It is more important to be consistent than harsh.’

To read more suggestions from Ken’s website click here.