It is probably an unbearably frightening sight to see your little child, who is already growing up so quickly – and finding that he/she might be exposed to drugs or alcohol. It’s not news that teenagers are victims of substance abuse.
A study conducted in 2015 found out that, 58% of secondary level school students had tried alcohol before their legal age, while 36% of them had also had marijuana. It is a very difficult task to understand the mind of a teenager. Being exposed to these drugs at an early age can cause complications throughout their lives. As a responsible parent or guardian – it is very important to understand the signs of drug abuse and address it in a way that will convey your message across to your young ones.
Signs of drug abuse in teens:
- Changes to normal habits: As a parent or guardian, you are likely to notice a change in your teen’s regular habits. However, these can sometimes also be isolated events, and you don’t need to interrogate your child immediately. But, if you notice something that may occur recurring to you, you need to keep an eye on your teen. Following are some of the generic signs to identify drug abuse in teenagers:
– A sudden increase or lack of appetite
– A change in friend circle, importantly if they’re not spending time with people they used to.
– Downfall in grades
– Complaints from Teachers about misconduct in class.
- Changes in Physical Appearance: Teens are usually experts when it comes to hiding marks on their bodies. But, these physical changes are most noticeable when it comes to substance abuse – which is harder to spot.
– Shaking or Tremors
– The unusual smell on Clothing or Breath
– Constantly licking lips
– Unexplained wounds or track marks on arms
- Secretive Behavior: People are more withdrawn and introverted by nature, and it may be normal for your child. It is a sign of worry when an extrovert starts getting quiet, or an introvert withdraws even further. Maybe, it is time to take a closer look, and here are some behaviors that you may have recognized
– Locking doors
– Avoiding eye contact
– Going out at night for long periods
– Bunking extracurricular activities, or missing classes
- Changes at Home: Teenagers are often outsmarting us with almost everything, so it is not likely that you would find a hidden stash of drugs or alcohol under his/her bed. These signs are often more subtle. You should keep an eye for unusual changes to your home environment and his/her room especially:
– Containers that you don’t recognize
– Dents on the Car
– Missing or Finding excessive Prescription Drugs
– Butane Lighters or Syringes
Are they just growing up, or are they using drugs?
While you may always view your child as still young, they might be encountering some very adult situations. Not all of them are natural and healthy, as they learn how to handle these in the “real world” but it’s not everything.
The list of behaviors that are given above such as – changing friend groups, moodiness or Dents on the Car can also be just a part of their young adulthood. But as a parent or guardian, you are the only person who is most likely to notice something which is not as conspicuous as you think. The list given to you is a measure or a guidance tool and not a diagnosis.
It is important for you to know, what a mess they have gotten themselves into. When you need to know – it is important to ask these questions directly. Even before you make an accusation, ask them and give them a chance to explain the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask the simple (but difficult) questions, such as “Are you using drugs?” “What drugs have you used, exactly?” “Have you had alcohol?” And, when the time comes, be prepared for what you’re going to say if they tell you that they have been using. It doesn’t matter how much you believe in your child, you have to be prepared for the worst, and not let your emotions dictate your reaction.
Omkar Kulkarni is a self-proclaimed art appreciator, a certified film reviewer and someone’s favorite human being.