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Signs of Drug Use in Teens

Whether you are the parent of a teenager or a concerned friend who wants to ensure that your friend does not fall victim to the epidemic of drug use in teens, knowing how to identify such behavior will prove a handy tool. Teens using drugs is not a new phenomenon. It has been around for generations and has been the jumping-off point for many addictions and ruined lives. Identifying the signs of drug use in teens and having hard conversations could be what stops tragedy from happening. 

7 Minute Read | Published Sep 27 2023 | Updated Mar 07 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

In this guide, the team at Better Addiction Care will share their professional insights into how to spot signs of teen drug use and which drugs teens are using. This article was created by a team with years of experience and expertise in providing free resources that connect substance abusers to the right treatment facility in hopes that more friends and families can get their loved ones the help they need. 

Identifying Signs of Teen Drug Use

Although the exact signs of drug use in teens can vary based on which substances the teens may be using, our team will cover the most common among them below. There are some common ways of identifying substance abuse in adolescents that seem to be present in most cases. If you are concerned about the possibility of teens and drug use being present in your home or friend group, keep an eye out for any of the following potential symptoms:

  • A distinct loss of interest in activities that they once participated in, either in school or as an extracurricular.
  • Physical changes that can happen suddenly, such as weight loss, bloodshot or watery eyes, tremors, shakes, or frequent nosebleeds.
  • No longer socializing with old friend groups but instead choosing to associate with new ones. This is especially true if this new friend group displays similar symptoms as listed.
  • A loss of respect for authority or rules, especially when related to school or parental figures.
  • An increased show of anger or aggression towards others that would not happen before.
  • Avoiding eye contact when being spoken to.
  • Stealing from their home or from other locations.
  • Locking doors when it previously would not have been necessary.
  • Constant excuses for tardiness or for not being present when they should have been.
  • Poor hygiene or a lack of care for their appearance.
  • Track marks on arms, legs, or other areas of the body.
  • A noticeable sense of paranoia or secrecy.

These are some of the common ways to link teens and drug use. Oftentimes teens will deny using until the very last minute and will only admit to this once pressed. To get a better sense of what could be happening, if you have seen these signs of drug use in teens but do not know what they could be using, it is important to know what drugs teens regularly use so that you can have a better idea of what to keep an eye out for.

Common Drugs Used by Teens

Though the teen drug use statistics can be hard to pin down, owing to the lack of transparency that is to be expected from teenagers who are participating in substance abuse, which drugs adolescents are opting for is not so difficult to identify. Knowing these substances can help keep what signs of drug use in teens to pay particular attention to, and also what they could be using. Some of the most common drugs for teens include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana 
  • Prescription medications, often stolen from parents or other family members
  • K2, a form of synthetic marijuana also known as Spice 
  • Cocaine

These drugs are commonly abused by teens for a few particular reasons, chief of which would be their availability and the fact that no one has seemed to notice their habit yet. Getting these teenagers the help they need as soon as the early signs of drug use in teens are apparent can be the difference between a teenage life that doesn’t include drug use and life as an addict.

Find a National Drug Abuse Treatment Center

If you are a parent or friend of a teen who has a substance abuse problem and you have confirmed the signs of drug use in teens, or you are a teen yourself who is looking to get help, be sure to get the right care. Find a team of experts near you who can provide quality treatment. Better Addiction Care specializes in connecting users to the right location through our free online national directory of drug and alcohol treatment facilities and is sure to have something in your area. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our resources and how we can help you or a friend kick their addictions. If you are interested in more articles such as this one, which provides a look into both addiction and its treatment, then be sure to read some of our other articles and learn more from our team of experts.


bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021).
"DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends."
Retrieved on November 08, 2022
bullet Partnership to End Addiction. (n.d.).
"Drug Use Warning Signs."
Retrieved on November 08, 2022
bullet Mayo Clinic. (2021).
"Teen Drug Abuse: Help Your Teen Avoid Drugs."
Retrieved on November 08, 2022
bullet American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2018).
"Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents."
Retrieved on November 08, 2022
bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. (2021).
"Is Your Teen Using? Recognizing the Signs."
Retrieved on November 08, 2022
bullet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019).
"Substance Use and Adolescents."
Retrieved on November 08, 2022
bullet American Psychological Association. (2021).
"How to Spot the Signs of Teen Substance Abuse."
Retrieved on November 08, 2022

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