4 Important Indicators of Drug Abuse in Teens

Drug abuse is rampant in today’s society, and the peer pressure than many teenagers face at school and with friends can be daunting to combat. Even if you do everything right, instruct your child correctly, and have the perfect supporting atmosphere, any teenager can fall to peer pressure.

It is important, therefore, that every parent be aware of changes in their teenager’s health and behavior that could indicate such a problem. If you’re concerned that your child may be a victim of drug abuse, here are four indicators to look for.


When you’re the parent of a teenager, you’re used to your child being moody. Fluctuations in hormones can cause seemingly random moments of irritability or even giddiness. Moodiness caused by drug abuse is different.

They will be prone to violent outbursts, rage, sadness, hopelessness, and other extreme moods that previously were out of character for your teen. By themselves, these mood swings don’t necessarily mean drug abuse, but they could still indicate an underlying issue of extreme stress or even a hormonal disorder.

If accompanied with other warning signs, however, it is important to consider drug abuse as a possible cause. Either way, it would benefit both you and your child to find out if there’s something more than puberty causing the mood swings.

Being Secretive

You know your child. You know when they’re giving you the truth, a half-truth, or a lie. You generally know when they’re keeping secrets. If you ask them a question they usually answer clearly but only give a vague response, this secretive behavior is a sign that they’re doing something of which they know you won’t approve.

While alone this could simply indicate they stayed up late, lost their homework, or played a videogame you don’t approve of, being defensive and secretive about things like money problems, decreased health, and letting parents into their bedroom when they previously allowed it, this can be a sign that they are hiding a drug problem.

When they start keeping secrets about behavior and health declines, it’s important to uncover the truth to ensure they aren’t involved in dangerous activities.

Trouble in School

When a child or a teenager experiences severe changes in their life, their academic life is one of the first places affected. This is why teachers are trained to look for signs of neglect, abuse, and trauma in their students. As a parent, you should form a very strong line of communication with your child’s school and teachers. They will keep you notified if your child is missing class, is losing focus, or is exhibiting health or behavioral issues in class. These can be signs of drug abuse or other issues that you shouldn’t ignore. If you discover that your child is abusing drugs, you can contact emergency support services like Lifeline or other teen rehab centers for addiction counseling and therapy.

Missing Items

Abusing drugs is a very expensive habit. Even if your child has an afterschool job and you provide them with an allowance, that won’t be enough income to support drug abuse. They could resort to stealing from you and from home. If you notice expensive items or cash going missing, it could be collateral damage from your child’s secret drug habit.

 As previously mentioned, this is an especially significant sign if you ask them about the money loss and they become defensive and secretive about it. If your child is spending large amounts of money with no new belongings to show for it, make sure to approach them about it and ensure that the money spent isn’t on something dangerous.

One thing to keep in mind is that drug addiction often stems from other issues. Many people will use illicit drugs to self-medicate when they have an untreated mental or physical illness. It’s important to respond with a desire to help rather than a desire to blame.

Initial approaches to a potential drug abuse problem should be open and genuine inquiries with an emphasis on your desire to protect your child’s health and safety. If they don’t open up about their problems on their own, however, it is important to seek professional help to ensure that the problem is resolved.

Make sure you raise your children with strong values so that they can grow to avoid these pitfalls. Always be aware.

Do you have a teen or have your own experience to share? Comment below so other parents can see what signs to look for.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

4 Important Indicators of Drug Abuse in Teens

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