As parents, when we think about all the things our kids can do, developing a drug or alcohol addiction doesn’t usually make it on the list. Unfortunately, the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that marijuana use, among kids in grades eight through twelve, is on the rise. Prescription drug abuse is also a major concern. It is possible for any kid to get involved with drugs, regardless of race, socio-economic status or geographic location.
As difficult as it is to face, parents need to make themselves aware of the signs of drug use in their kids. Doing so could mean the difference between getting timely help from one of the reliable teen and young adult drug treatment programs, and losing your child to addiction.
Behavioral and Personality Signs
The teen years can be a time of change and emotional upheaval. That ten year-old who listened to pop songs and never left your side, is now a moody fourteen year-old who wants nothing to do with you. While a change in musical tastes, no matter how incomprehensible, is not a sign of drug use, here are some things you should be aware of:
- Extreme personality changes. Regardless of what he looks like on the outside, you child should still be himself. If he goes from being an introvert to an extrovert, or vice-versa, that could be a sign of drug use.
- School attendance and performance. If your child is skipping school a lot, if her grades slip, or if she continually gets into trouble.
- A drastic change in interests and activities. Changing your mind and developing new interests is a normal part of growing up. However, if your son loved soccer in the summer and, by fall, he is no longer interested, that could be a sign of a deeper issue.
- A drastic change in friends. As with interests, finding new social circles is a sign of branching out and growing up. However, if you child has cut off all contact with her previous group of friends, there could be something more – especially if you are suspicious of the new group.
- Changes in clothing and personal hygiene. If you child is not bathing regularly, or is bathing more than usual; or if he is wearing inappropriate clothing, such as long pants and sleeves in hot weather, it could be due to drug use.
- Memory lapses and short-term memory loss.
While the behavioral and personality sighs could be attributed to normal teen angst, the physical signs are generally easier to recognize.
- Bloodshot eyes, frequent sniffling, and frequent nosebleeds in the absence of allergies and other sinus issues.
- Sudden weight changes.
- Frequent unexplained injuries and bruises.
- An unsteady gait, loss of coordination, or hand tremors.
- Slurred speech.
If you notice these, or any other unusual changes in your child, contact a medical professional immediately. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can get your child on the road to recovery.