How to identify teenage drug use

As parents, what kinds of body language cues should we be looking for to signal drug use? More here on ways to identify drug use in your teenager.

3
minute read

How can you tell if your teen is using drugs, or not?

Here, we review some of the most common cues in body language and behaviors that can signal drug use. Then, we review steps you can take to address the issue. Finally, we invite your questions or comments about identifying drug abuse at the end.

Ways Your Teen’s Body Language Can Signal Drug Addiction

Let’s face it, parents. Your teenagers are going to be exposed to drugs at school. So, how can you know if your kid has been using, or not?

All drug users have tells.

Some are universal, such as glazed or bloodshot eyes, but other typical signs like legal and relationship trouble may not happen to every teen. However, if parents familiarize themselves with the signs of drug abuse they may be able to help their teens before it’s too late.

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Along with bloodshot and glazed eyes, a few other common tells include:

Activities: Loss of interest, or new interests which seem out-of-character.

Appetite: Unusual appetite, either eating much less or much more.

Attitude: Changes in their ‘norm’.

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Body: Changes in coordination, tremors, slurred speech.

Drug Seeking: Following sports or other injuries, does your teen need more pain relief than seems appropriate for the injury?

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Emotions: Overly anxious or fearful.

Friends: A new crowd unlike their ‘normal’ friends.

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Money: A sudden need for money or having money you didn’t give them.

Mood: Depression and apathy as well as extra energy or isolation.

Odors: Breath, body, and/or clothing.

Privacy: Increased need for privacy.

Pupils: The black part of the eye is wide open or unusually tiny.

School: Skipping school, changes in grades.

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Sleep: Changes to sleep routine.

Weight: Extreme weight changes in weight loss or weight gain.

As you can see the list of possible symptoms of drug abuse is quite extensive. The drug or drugs each teen uses will exhibit a few or most of the symptoms.

The best offense: Get to know your kid

In this case, a good defense against drugs is important. However, telling your teen “Don’t do drugs” may not be enough. Your best offense is getting to know your teens well enough that should they begin using, you will notice these changes right away.

BEWARE: Because drug users are sneaky. Addicts are very practiced at lying and manipulation. If your teen is really interested in getting high he is going to do everything possible to keep it from you. It is also possible these drug abuse tells are so mild any one of them might not be obvious. However, if you notice several of them at once or over the course of time, follow your instincts.

Next steps if a problem is present

The next steps of your of life are not going to be easy. It is rare for a teenager to willingly submit to an intervention or rehab. Teenagers who don’t want to talk about drugs or alcohol could be in deep denial of a problem. However, you cannot let that deter you from seeking help for your teen’s drug abuse. If anything, you should use it to your advantage.

Selecting a drug treatment program is difficult but the work you put in may affect the outcome. Therapeutic residential treatment is often the most effective for teenagers. Additionally, you’ll need to be sure that the counselors are right for your teen. Having a therapeutic match is often the best way to ensure success.

Parents, keep your eyes open. Make sure you know your teens. Your awareness is crucial to early intervention, treatment, and their recovery.

About the author
Tyler is a freelance writer/journalist, with past experience as the head content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. His areas of focus include: parenting, education, social media, addiction, and issues facing teenagers today.

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