It’s not easy being a teenager in the United States. Though we’ve all endured our angst-ridden, awkward and often painful junior high and high school years, there is an entire generation of young people currently grappling with theirs. From hormonal body changes to college admissions applications, unquenchable curiosity to puzzling social anxiety, varsity football games to backyard birthday party activities — surviving your teen years is no small feat.
Unfortunately, the stressors of teenage life lead some young people to begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Sometimes, the temptations can be hard to resist, especially with an entire crowd of friends putting a young person in harm’s way under the pretense of “new experiences.” That’s why it should come as no surprise that the drug addiction rates in teens can be higher than for people in any other age group.
There are ways to get help, though, before serious consequences begin to take shape both in the body and in external situations (especially behind the wheel). You can spot the symptoms of drug addiction in teens if you pay attention to their behavior patterns. Be careful, though: As a parent, it’s easy to unintentionally assert a method of over-protection, which yours teens could see as a violation of their personal space. No matter the situation, look out for these symptoms, but always try to maintain your personal distance:
- Decreased motivation: Perhaps one of the most common symptoms of drug addiction or abuse, a lack of motivation for schoolwork, sports or other extracurricular activities could mean your teen has found other, more hazardous ways of passing the time.
- Missing medications: This applies to the stuff you keep behind the mirror in your bathroom. In fact, more teens are abusing prescription drugs stolen from their parents than other “street” narcotics like cocaine and heroin.
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss: Changes in physical appearance might be the most easily to spot, especially when it comes to fluctuations in weight. These could be symptomatic of potentially heavy drug abuse or even misuse of laxatives or other diet supplements.
When you identify these signs and symptoms of drug addiction and abuse, it’s important to not threaten or antagonize your teen, but to let him or her know that these activities are extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. What’s important to all parents is the safety of their children — that’s where specialized abuse programs can help. For more information on drug addiction, teen treatment programs and prevention methods, look up the local rehab centers in your area.