Signs Of Teenage Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is a disorder caused by the continuous consumption of substances such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco etc. that results in adverse social, economic and financial consequences. Stress is one of the key factors of teenage substance abuse. Most teenagers may start consuming alcohol or drugs to handle peer pressure that soon turns into an abuse.
Several other reasons may cause teenagers to become an addict. The environment in which a child grows plays a vital role in his or her decision-making to resort to an addiction. Constant arguments between parents, unhealthy family ties, etc. may force a child choose drugs or alcohol to reduce stress and tension. Children whose parents have an addiction problem also tend to become addicts.
Friends of a teen who are substance abusers play an influential role in the teen’s life to become an addict. Low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, desire to fit into a particular group of friends etc. are a few other reasons that may influence a teenager to become an addict.
Substance abuse can have side effects on the central nervous system that lead to physical, behavioral or psychological changes in an addict. Substance abusers may often hide their symptoms and may be in a state of denial about the abuse. Parents, relatives and friends must look for the below mentioned signs or changes to understand if a teenager is a victim of substance abuse.
An addicted teen may suddenly change his or her group of friends, hobbies, interest etc. The new group of people the addicted teen befriends may also be substance abusers. They start to lose interest in family and social gatherings, they disrespect family rules, lie about their activities and engagements, become irresponsible, do not come home on time and become secretive of where they are going.
They may start to steal or often borrow money to buy drugs and satisfy their addiction. They may also turn violent and get into fights and arguments if they fail to consume drugs or alcohol. Teen substance abusers display suspicious behavior since they do not want anyone to find out about their addiction and start sneaking around. Teen addicts prefer to stay aloof.
At school, there is a constant drop in their performance and attendance and they do not participate in extracurricular activities and sports. An addicted teen often withdraws from learning, sleeps in class, and does not complete homework or assignments. Substance abuse also causes memory loss and reduced concentration.
Teen substance abusers show signs of unexplained personality or attitude changes. They display sudden outbursts of anger and irritation. They become hyperactive and lack motivation. They start to appear fearful, anxious, lethargic and paranoid without any reason.
A teen addict suffers from loss of appetite, sleeplessness, sudden weight gain or loss, reddened eyes, enlarged pupils, tremors, lack of coordination etc. Substance abuse hampers an addict’s physical appearance and their body and clothes start emitting unusual odors. Teens may also indulge in unprotected sex leading to diseases such as HIV because of a reduced sense of judgment caused by substance abuse. They also often face legal consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing accidents.
Substance abuse amongst teenagers is one of the major problems in today’s families. Parents and relatives who see a change in their teen’s behavior and habits that do seem to be normal adolescent changes should be extra cautious and pay more attention to their child’s appearance and behavioral patterns. It is essential for parents to communicate openly about the ill effects of substance abuse to their children.
Talking to their children solves most of the problems and empowers teens to make the right choices and decisions at an early age. Studies show that healthy family bonds and strong, open conversations between parents and children motivate children to stay away from substance abuse and live a healthier life.
Teens usually consume alcohol and drugs after school hours and before parents come home. Parents should encourage their children to participate in extracurricular activities and sports at school or engage in interests and hobbies they like to utilize their time productively. Reducing the amount of alcohol, over the counter and prescribed drugs etc. kept at home and monitoring their usage helps in decreasing substance abuse.
It is important for parents to lay down rules and expectations about substance abuse. It is essential for parents to explain the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. Early intervention by parents, relative, friends, coaches, etc. can help reduce substance abuse. Seeking professional help from doctors, attending therapy sessions, enrolling in awareness programs and services will also help in treating teen addiction.