The Signs of Teenage Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Teenage girl wears a hoodie and jeans. She sits on the ground, crossing her legs, with her face hidden in her hands.

Teenage drug use is an increasing concern, especially for high school students. The social pressure, anxiety, and depressive episodes that follow the development stages during the teenage years often inflict drug use in teens. If you are a worried friend or family member, it’s beneficial to learn the signs of teenage drug and alcohol abuse. 

Why Is Teenage Drug Use Common? 

Though peer pressure and influences on social media can certainly contribute to why teens use drugs, these aren’t the only reasons. So why do teenagers turn to drugs? Alcohol and drugs are often used as coping mechanisms. For instance, if teenagers go home to abusive parents or witness substance abuse early on, they are more likely to experiment with drugs or use them to self-medicate. However, self-medication builds tolerance and forms a substance abuse disorder (SUD).

Signs of Substance Abuse in Teens

Numerous signs of teenage drug and alcohol abuse can be noticed and helped. Teenagers will display emotional and physical signs of drug use. A major fear for most parents is the worry that their child will end up an addict. Here are warning signs of substance abuse in your teenager: 


  • Defensive 
  • Overly tired 
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sleeping in class 
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lying or avoidance 
  • Sudden mood swings 
  • Isolating themselves 
  • Depressive episodes 
  • Discovered paraphilia 
  • Reduced attention span
  • Loss of interest in school 
  • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
  • Constantly asking to borrow money 


Student and teen drug abuse can be resolved with the help of a support team. Also, drug and alcohol intervention programs can encourage or persuade an individual to seek the medical attention they need to make a long-term recovery. The consequence of teenage drug abuse can lead to life-threatening health issues, broken relationships, or overdose. 

How to Handle Teenage Drug Use

After knowing and noticing the signs of teenage drug and alcohol abuse, what can you do to prevent long-term use? Firstly, communication is key. If you are a parent, friend, teacher, or loved one who is concerned for the well-being of the user, then speaking from a place of compassion is essential. The addict should not feel judged but understand the urgency to recover. 


Some helpful tips for approaching a teenager with SUD include: 


  • Avoid lecturing them
  • Encourage them 
  • Set a good example 
  • Share your experiences
  • Establish rules and consequences
  • Use statistics to educate the teenager 
  • Go over the risks and future effects of drugs
  • Be sure to listen to the views and opinions of the teenager


In addition, set boundaries for yourself. Setting rules for yourself is important, so you don’t fall into depressive episodes or blame yourself for their addiction. Continue to show support and reach out to others for emotional encouragement. 

Resources at Better Addiction Care 

The highly trained staff at Better Addiction Care can help you or a loved one find the best family rehab centers and addiction treatment programs to begin a recovery journey. We understand the challenges that face being a teenager living in today’s society, especially if you mix it with drug use. That’s why we offer unique programs and services accessible all over the United States. 


Understanding and overcoming chemical dependency is the first step in sustaining sobriety. Speak with a specialist at Better Addiction Care by calling 800-429-7690 today. 


Related Readings: 

12 Tips for Staying Sober Over Summer

Fighting Depression and Addiction


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. Retrieved from
  2. Partnership to End Addiction. (n.d.). Warning Signs: Teens and Substance Use. Retrieved from
  3. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Teen Drug Abuse: Help Your Teen Avoid Drugs. Retrieved from
  4. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (2019). Facts for Families: Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs. Retrieved from
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Risk and Protective Factors and Prevention Strategies for Youth Substance Use. Retrieved from
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction – The Teen Brain. Retrieved from
  7. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2019). 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from
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