Teens have been known to use drugs since as far back as the 1960s. Since then, teen drug use has increased, the availability of drugs has increased and the potency has increased as well. Now, it can be said that teen drug use is an epidemic and a dangerous issue.
Teen drug use is very hazardous and can lead to many other bad behaviors like, sexual activity, provocativeness, self-harm, stealing and violence. Teen’s lives are at risk because they could overdose, commit suicide, get into a car accident if they drive and get into dangerous situations with dangerous people. Teen drug use usually becomes a life long struggle with addiction as well.
It is important for parents and teachers to recognize the signs of drug use. Some signs of drug use are:
- Drastic changes in appearance
- Falling grades (although some teens are able to keep their grades up when using drugs)
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Changes in interests
- Changes in attitude
- Change in friends and hiding who their friends are
- Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Always asking for money
- Dilated pupils or red eyes (could try to hide eyes with sunglasses)
- The way they smell (could smell like smoke or alcohol)
- Being away from home more often and lying about where they go and what they do
- Disrespecting elders
- Anti-social behavior
Some of these signs could also be the sign of a mental health issue which should also be addressed. The only way a parent will know for sure is if they ask, catch their teen in the act or find drugs in their room or in the pockets of their dirty clothes. Read more about teen drug use warning signs.
It is vital to know how to approach a teen who may be using drugs. Teens will be less likely to open up if the parent threatens punishment if their drug use is found out, criticizes them or treats them like a criminal. These approaches will most likely make a teen hide their drug use better and use more. Some effective ways to approach your teen when you suspect drug use are:
- Express your love and care for them
- Educate them on how drug use is harmful without making accusations
- Ask them how they feel and try to relate to their feelings
- Remind them that you will always love them no matter what they do
- Try to stay involved with their activities
- Encourage them to tell you if they are using drugs and that you will not be mad or punish them
- Let them know if they are using drugs that you will help them get through it
The more understanding a parent is the more likely a teen is to open up. Find out more about how to talk to your kids if you suspect they are using drugs here.
Unfortunately, some teens will still hide their drug use no matter how nice and understanding the parent is. In these cases, if you are almost positive your teen is using drugs, you may want to make them take a drug test. You must explain that the reason you are making them take a test is that you are genuinely concerned for his/her life.
Finding out why your teen is doing drugs can help you figure out how to remedy the problem. Are they doing drugs as rebellion or are they actually trying to find a way to cope with the many hardships they have endured and currently endure?
Parents need to understand that some teens do drugs as an escape from emotional pain, bullying and/or to cope with a mental health issue that has not been diagnosed. If your teen does not want to talk to you about his/her feelings, you must respect them and getting them into therapy can be the best option. You must also be willing to recognize and accept that you may have been a poor example, abused or neglected your teen at some point in their life, which they are trying to cope with.
If you have tried every avenue you know, your teen is still using drugs, and you are in fear for his/her life, you may have to resort to getting them into drug treatment or rehab. Whatever you feel it takes to stop your teen from destroying their life you must try. The most important things to remember are to always approach a teen with love, care and understanding and do not treat him/her like a criminal, bad person or problem.