What are some warning signs of teen substance use?

George Joseph
Addiction Medicine
Warning signs of teen substance abuse may include:

• Secrecy – all of a sudden it’s “not your business.” They want you out of their lives and will not discuss friends, things they buy, or things they are doing.

• Finding new interests in things that glamorize drug use – clothes, tattoos, music, and paraphernalia

• Increased need for privacy – locking doors, isolation, poor eye contact or communication

• Poor attendance at school. Grades drop and teachers report lack of attention or interest and increase in conflicts.
• Stealing money from parents, siblings or friends. Stealing items to sell or abuse, such as prescription or over-the-counter medications.

• Depression, increased need for sleep, withdrawn, isolated, distraught

• Sudden use of air fresheners or incense to mask the smell of smoke or drugs

• Increased use of perfumes or mouth wash and breath mints to cover up lingering odors

• Requests for eye drops or eye washes to reduce red eyes or dilated pupils

Know the signs of drug use. If you suspect that your teen is experimenting with drugs have him or her tested immediately. Don't second guess yourself. Time is of the essence and early detection is extremely important. Drug test can be purchased for home use or done professionally. If the test turns out positive seek professional help and set up random drug screenings. Below are some of the warning signs of drug use.

Know the Signs:

  • Poor Grades
  • Skipping School
  • Poor Hygiene
  • Change in Friends
  • Significant Mood Changes
  • Lying and Increased Secrecy and Suspicious Behavior
  • Pulling Away from the Family
  • Increased Defiance
  • Evidence of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Isolation - Spending More Time Alone and in Their Room


Quiz - Is Your Teen Using Drugs?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.