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Signs of Addiction in Teenagers

by Sara Ipatenco

No parent wants to admit that their teen might be abusing drugs or alcohol, but the reality is that many teens graduate from experimentation to a full-blown addiction. Talking to your teen about the dangers of drugs and alcohol is crucial, but that doesn't mean your teen will listen and stay away from these substances. Knowing the signs of a possible addiction will help you identify the problem as soon as possible so you can get your teen the help he needs to overcome his addiction.

Physical Signs

Teens who are addicted to drugs or alcohol display certain physical symptoms that should tip you off that something is remiss. According to the Childhelp website, if you notice that your teen doesn't seem to care about her appearance, she might be struggling with addiction. Because teens usually care about how they look, a sudden change is a red flag. If your teen has trouble sleeping, isn't motivated to do activities she previously enjoyed, or if she suddenly gains or loses a lot of weight, she might also be addicted to drugs or alcohol. Bloodshot eyes, tremors and slurred speech are additional physical signs that your teen might be addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Behavioral Signs

If you've noticed that your teen is hanging out with a new crowd of friends or if he's stopped hanging out with the friends he already has, he might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to the HelpGuide website. While changing friends isn't a definite sign of an addiction, it is a red flag, especially if your teen doesn't want to have his new friends over or if he doesn't want you to meet them. If your teen starts skipping school, becomes highly secretive about what he's doing or if he suddenly starts asking for money, but refuses to tell you what he's planning to buy, he might also be struggling with an addiction.

Emotional and Mental Signs

Teens who are addicted to drugs or alcohol often display symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to the KidsHealth website. Teens struggling with addiction might often have severe mood swings. Your teen might also go through a drastic change in personality. A teen who appears scared or paranoid might also be addicted to drugs or alcohol. Additional emotional and mental signs include confusion, memory loss, delusions and hallucinations, according to MayoClinic.com.

Getting Your Teen Help

If you suspect your teen is addicted to drugs or alcohol, seek help for him immediately. A drug or alcohol addiction can be life-threatening, either by the substance itself or because of risky behaviors associated with using the substance, such as drinking and driving. Speak with your child's pediatrician, who can give you a referral to a mental health professional that specializes in addiction. Monitor your teen's activities more closely, too, recommends the HelpGuide website. Enforce stricter rules about where your teen is allowed to go, who she's allowed to spend time with and what time she needs to be home for the evening. Don't give her money if she won't tell you what she needs it for, and follow up on her purchases to ensure she's spending it the way she said she would.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

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