Teenage Drug Use
Recognizing teen drug abuse
Parents and guardians need to be vigilant in watching for teen drug abuse and the signs of possible drug addiction in their teenaged children. Here are some categories to consider if and when you suspect something might be going on.
School: Has your child lost interest in school work, or even going to school? Your child suddenly dislikes school and will look for any excuse not to attend. Have the grades fallen off? You may consider calling the school to see if your child has been skipping classes. Once they leave the house do they find their way to school? If there has been a swing in performance, as almost overnight your child goes from being a good student to barely passing, this is a sign of possible teen drug abuse.
Health: Have there been any changes in your child’s appearance? Are they listless, or have they lost interest in grooming, their manner of dress? Teenagers are usually interested in how they look, even though the current fashion may not be appealing to parents. Teenagers want to fit in, but if they lose interest in how they look, or they suddenly just don’t care about this area of their life, there may be a problem. Teen drug abuse is a possibility.
Attitude: Has your child lost interest in doing things they once loved to do? Has there been a personality shift, or are they hanging out with a different crowd? Try to notice if there has been any change in sleeping patterns
Personal Space: When teenagers make extended efforts to distance themselves from their family, not just their parents, there may be another issue at play. Teenagers enjoy privacy, but when their “right” to privacy includes refusing their parents information on where they are going, what they are doing and who they are going to be with, that is a cause for concern. Perhaps the teen does not allow parents even to enter there room. That’s a red flag. Any dramatic change in their interaction with the family is a possible indicator.
Money: Many teens hold a job and earn their spending money. Some may receive spending money from their parents. In any case, if there is a sudden request for money with no reasonable explanation for the need, there might be an issue. The teen may even be irritated when asked, as if his/her demand for money was an entitlement and the parents have no right to ask why. What is the money for? Teen drug abuse may be the explanation.
Only Alcohol: Many parents are relieved to learn that their child is “only drinking” and not using drugs. It is a dangerous, if not foolish position to take, because we see no difference between alcoholism and drug addiction. With addiction, it is centered on the drug of choice, so whether it’s beer or crack cocaine, abuse is abuse.
Trying it out: Trying drugs is nothing new. They are everywhere, in upscale suburban schools and in modest rural schools. They are in the city and the country. Young people are targets of opportunity for drug dealers, whose only concern is to make money and not get into legal entanglements. Teens congregate in shopping malls and movie theaters. They hang out in parks, fast food restaurants and sporting events. The drugs will find them. That’s why knowing where your child is and what’s going on in his/her life is so important. You may no longer be their “friend” or their “buddy,” but by asking the tough questions, you are being a good parent.
Now what? If you suspect there is something going on, the first step is to try to talk to your child. Don’t put them on the defensive, because the strategy will not likely be effective. Rather center the conversation on them, what they’re doing, what they’re interested in. You’re not probing or fishing for information, but through “hearing” their response and observing their non-verbal behavior, you pick up clues of teen drug abuse, little indicators. If after talking with your child you suspect something is going on, the next step is to seek professional help from a drug counselor who specializes in teenagers.
Enlist the help of an expert who will work with you to do the best for your child. Another good source of support and professional counsel is the clergy. Many pastors are trained in counseling and are familiar with drug addiction issues. Some might work with Alcoholics Anonymous or other drug treatment facilities. But it’s very important to take action and try to help your child learn to work through there problem with teen drug abuse so that hopefully they can avoid addiction.
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