Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Signs of Teen Drug Abuse, Drug Use Statistics, and Dealing with the Problem

Drug use among teens is something that cannot be ignored. One of the major causes of the development of addiction is the age at which drug use starts as developing brains can be permanently altered. Teen drug abuse signs can be the only window you have into a problem that may cause the rest of a teen’s life to become problematic.

What are the addiction treatment options for teens? Click here to learn more.

In this article, we will examine teen drug use statistics to better understand the scope of the problem, explore the common signs that can indicate teen drug abuse, and what to do if your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol.

Teen Drug Use Statistics

Teens abuse drugs for various reasons, which we will get into later. Several government and private institutions are closely following the teen drug use statistics so that the problem can be addressed appropriately.

The following facts and statistics about teen drug abuse comes from government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Education, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

  • In 2013, the use of marijuana was higher than the use of cigarettes among high school seniors. 22.7 percent smoked marijuana as apposed to the 16.3 percent that smoked cigarettes in the last month.
  • Prescription drugs such as OxyContin accounts for more deaths among teens than cocaine and heroin combined.
  • In the states that allow for the medicinal sale of marijuana, a third of all teens acquire their marijuana through other people’s prescriptions.
  • Nearly 60 percent of seniors in high school believe that regular use of marijuana isn’t harmful; however, the active component in pot (THC) is at least 5 times stronger today than it was two decades ago.
  • Adderall teen drug abuse has increased by nearly 50 percent in roughly half a decade; from 5.4 to 7.5 percent from 2009 to 2014.
  • 60 percent of teens who abuse prescription drugs acquire theirs from relatives of friends for free.
  • While the United States accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population, it accounts for 75 percent of the global prescriptions for opioids and similar drugs.
  • 16.5 percent of teens have used marijuana, 28 percent drank alcohol, and 15 percent have smoked cigarettes by the time they reach the 8th grade.
  • More than half of seniors in high school believe that regular steroid use is not harmful. The last time so many believed it wasn’t dangerous was in 1980.
  • Roughly half of the seniors in high school don’t see a problem with using cocaine a few times, and a further 40 percent think that using heroin a few times isn’t bad.
  • In 2009, 5.1 percent of high school students smoked marijuana daily. By 2014, 6.5 percent smoked on a daily basis.
  • Teens who regularly hear about the dangers of teen drug abuse are 50 percent less likely to experiment with substances compared to their peers.

Why Do Teens Experiment with Drugs?

As previously mentioned, the use of drugs among the youth accounts for a large portion of the risk of later life use. Roughly half of all experimentation is done in people who are under 18. What drives the experimentation? The following looks at the common reasons why teens experiment with drugs:

  • Unmanaged stress resulting in substance abuse to cope
  • Simple curiosity
  • A big factor is peer pressure
  • Trying to escape their life
  • Emotional strain

Of course, not all experimentation leads to addiction; however, the reason it is seen as dangerous is because a teen’s brain is undergoing important developmental changes that affect the way their brain operates, and substance abuse can upset this balance and change. The changes can make a person more susceptible to addiction in their later life.

Signs of Substance Abuse in Teens

Adolescents are going through a plethora of changes. Some of the things they become interested in may just be a phase while other things may become a permanent feature of their life. It can be difficult to distinguish between normal changes in their behavior and substance abuse at times.

Becoming more involved with your child’s life, such as their friends, what they find interesting, and their views on substance abuse is a great starting point, but once abuse starts, they may actively try to hide it. The most frequent signs of substance abuse in teens are as follows:

  • They often have blood-shot eyes
  • Their hygiene has become poor or poorer
  • A drop in their school performance, which usually shows itself as bad grades
  • Breaking out in laughter over nothing
  • They avoid eye contact
  • They start to lose interest in their hobbies
  • Often missing their curfew
  • They seem overly tired for no real reason
  • Less effort put into their appearance
  • They get unusually hungry
  • Secretive behavior, or suddenly not sharing as much as they used to
  • There is a hint of smoke on their clothes or breath

Drug Rehab for Teens

As a parent, teen drug use is not something that can be ignored; left unchecked, the situation can spiral out of control and lead to a full-blown addiction.

There are two situations that one might face: the admittance and the denial of the problem. In both cases, if they try to stop but are unable to, then drug rehab for teens is your best option. Many programs are specifically designed to treat teens.

They Admitted Drug Use

If your teen has admitted their substance abuse to you, it’s important that you don’t overreact and lash out at them as it can prevent them from opening up to you in the future. From this position, it’s important for you to continue to talk about the dangers of drug use and help them to set goals to not abuse drugs or alcohol again. They should feel supported and loved, and continued parental involvement can help to prevent future abuse.

They Won’t Admit Their Use

If you suspect that your teen is abusing drugs, such as finding drugs or drug paraphernalia, but they won’t admit to it, then there are steps that you can take to help them.

Firstly, it should be made clear to them that you are just trying to help and support them. If they still don’t want to admit it, then having them take a home drug test or a drug test at a rehab center will provide you with undeniable proof. An important aspect about drug rehab for teens to remember is that their admission to a program doesn’t need to be voluntary for them to benefit from it.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-teen-or-young-adult-has-problem-drugs

http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables/NationalFindings/NSDUHresults2012.htm

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/dec2012/nida-19.htm