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What Parents Need to Know About Teen Substance Abuse

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Substance abuse is on the rise in most age and gender groups in the United States, and that includes America’s teen population. While certain categories of drugs have leveled off, alcohol, inhalants and prescription opiate use have continued to climb. These substances pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of America’s teens.

While some experimentation has become an expected part of adolescence, occasional use can quickly turn into abuse and then addiction faster than you realize. Teens will begin engaging in alcohol and drug abuse for a variety of reasons, like trying to fit in with certain groups. They may be trying to act/feel older, and some just like to chase the high because they find it exciting. Regardless of the reason, any alcohol and drug abuse among teenagers is extremely dangerous and needs to be taken very seriously.

Teen Substance Abuse by the Numbers

According to the US Center for Disease Control, approximately 75 percent of teenagers have tried alcohol. More frightening is the fact that over 25 percent have recently engaged in an act of binge drinking. Alcohol-related car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens and young adults in this country, so these numbers are incredibly worrisome. Over 35 percent of teens have used marijuana at least once, and almost 20 percent of teens currently use it regularly.

Teen marijuana use is especially concerning as marijuana is known to cause problems with memory functions, problem-solving abilities and learning skills. Cocaine use was reported at least once by 7 percent of teens, with 3 percent using it regularly.

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Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that can cause irregular heartbeats which can lead to seizures and strokes. Other substances reported to be abused by teens are inhalants like sniffing glue and gasoline, club drugs like ecstasy (MDMA) and roofies (Rohypnol,) methamphetamines, hallucinogens, opiates like heroin and morphine and prescription drugs.

Warning Signs That Your Teen May Be Abusing Drugs/Alcohol

It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous teen substance abuse can be. Here are some warning signs for parents from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to review to determine if your teen may be abusing drugs or alcohol:

  • Physical Signs – Fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting cough.
  • Emotional Signs – Personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behavior, low self-esteem, poor judgement, and a general lack of interest.
  • Family Signs – Starting arguments, breaking rules, or generally withdrawing from the family.
  • School Signs – Decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, getting into trouble and discipline problems
  • Social Signs – New friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities and problems with the law.

These signs are not an absolute indication of alcohol and drug abuse so it’s very important to talk openly to your teen. Be as supportive as you can while you address the level of their substance abuse and the appropriate treatment approach to take as a result of your findings.

Destination Hope is a full-service alcohol, drug and dual diagnosis treatment center for all ages in beautiful South Florida. We have extensive experience treating teenagers and providing the safe, gender-controlled environment your child needs to comfortably recover and move past her alcohol and drug abuse. If you are concerned that your child has been abusing drugs and/or alcohol, please call one of our admissions counselors today so we can help you guide her back to a happy and healthy life again.

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