Is Your Teenager Taking Drugs? Spotting the Signs of Substance Abuse

Posted in Family Health

Is Your Teenager Taking Drugs? Spotting the Signs of Substance Abuse

Contrary to popular belief, drug abuse among teenagers isn’t nearly as common as most believe it to be. In fact, on-going research has shown that fewer teenagers than ever before are experimenting with drugs and the number of teenagers abusing alcohol is also declining each year. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that teenage drug abuse does not remain a very real and very severe problem, blighting the lives of thousands of families up and down the United Kingdom.

When such a problem is detected and brought out into the open, the assistance of an experienced and reputable counsellor in Kent can make the most extraordinary difference. However, actually detecting the problem in the first place and bringing it out into the open represents a challenge that is far easier said than done. Not only do a lot of parents naturally find themselves in denial about the activities of their own children, but others are prone to paranoia and suspicion where neither are necessary.

So as far as the experts are concerned, what are the kinds of signs and symptoms parents should be on the lookout for when it comes to teenage substance abuse?  And more importantly, when does the time come to call in the experts?

Physical Signs and Symptoms

First of all, it’s pretty common knowledge that every type of substance abuse will have its own unique effect on the respective individual’s physical health.  Physical signs and symptoms of drug abuse tend to be the most obvious and easily detectable of all, though in all instances do not necessarily prove that drug abuse is to blame. Just a few common examples include nose bleeds, bloodshot eyes, sudden weight gain or weight loss, unusual sleeping patterns, inability to sleep, loss of appetite, lethargy throughout the day, frequent headaches and muscle pains, a tendency to become ill on a regular basis and many more besides.

Along with these, there are countless other examples of physical signs and symptoms which might not necessarily be as obvious as those above. For example, signs like instability, problems with coordination, loss of balance and a generally diminished level of aerobic fitness could indicate drug use. The same also goes for the appearance of cuts, bruises and other injuries that cannot be appropriately explained, noticeable deterioration of grooming and physical appearance, tremors, shakes, weakness and so on.

As already mentioned, it is perfectly possible that any combination of the signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that the person in question is taking drugs.  Nevertheless, in order to rule out any potentially serious underlying health issues, it is critical that they are not ignored.

Behavioural Signs and Symptoms

Particularly among teenagers, behavioural signs and symptoms of drug use can be somewhat more difficult to detect. The reason being that teenagers in general are often prone to unpredictable and perhaps even erratic behaviour, which can be and often is mistaken for the characteristic effects of drug use. Which is why the single most important rule to follow is that of being aware of change – any kinds of changes in their behaviour that are extensive or sudden enough to be of genuine concern.

In school for example, it could be that a teenager who once seemed to be getting by quite well suddenly experiences a drop in their performance, increasing disciplinary problems or the sudden desire to avoid attendance at all costs. On the social side of things, it may become apparent that they have lost interest in spending time with their friends, appear to have fallen in with a worrying crowd or are for some reason becoming increasingly isolated. Another tell-tale sign of substance abuse is when a teenager will go to almost any length necessary to avoid spending any real time face to face with their parents. They rush in and out of the home, they avoid conversation and they are as elusive as possible at most times.

In addition, any kind of clear deception or untrustworthy behaviour that is uncharacteristic for the person in question should be acknowledged. Lying about where they have been, whom they have been spending their time with and their activities in general more often than not means there is something to hide. In addition, when a teenager appears to be in a rather aggressive state of denial or takes offense to questioning with regard to their activities, can once again mean there is something being deliberately hidden.

Once again, it is important to acknowledge the fact that none of these indicators in any way prove that the person in question is taking drugs or abusing substances in general. Instead, they should simply prompt concerted efforts to identify exactly what it is that’s going on, bringing the matter to the attention of the professionals for essential advice and guidance.