There is nothing more frustrating or terrifying than watching a child become addicted to alcohol or drugs. When you’ve tried to deny the signs but your little voice tells you something is wrong, you can’t afford to ignore it. If you worry that your son or daughter is an alcoholic or addict, learn how to recognize the symptoms of addiction in adolescents — so you can get your child the help they deserve.
Identifying the Signs of Addiction
Adolescents under the best of circumstances are secretive. They often act angry or withdrawn for no apparent reason. They are also less likely to confide in their parents, and more likely to make rash decisions without understanding the consequences of substance abuse. For these reasons, it can be difficult to tell the difference between addiction and normal adolescent behaviors.
Unfortunately, because adolescents are also still developing cognitively, drugs and alcohol affect them more negatively than adult substance abusers. Getting help early is essential because the earlier an adolescent develops addiction, the more problematic the behavior will become.
Teens who demonstrate the following behaviors or symptoms may need help getting and staying sober:
- A sudden decline in grades
- Hanging out with a new crowd while ignoring old friends
- Quitting sports, clubs, or other healthy activities
- Spending more time alone in the bedroom
- Keeping paraphernalia such as pipes, matches or lighters, spoons, paper or small plastic bags, empty bottles of chemicals, aluminum foil, or alcohol bottles around the house or in the car
- Unexplained sudden mood swings, such as agitation and excitement followed by long periods of exhaustion or sleepiness
- Weight gain or loss, poor skin quality, sores or marks on the arms, dental problems such as teeth grinding, poor hygiene
Confronting Your Teen
It may be difficult for you to talk to your teen about suspected alcohol or drug abuse. However, it’s important that you create an atmosphere that encourages your teen to share her feelings without fear of punishment. Do not confront your teen when you suspect she has been using. Instead, choose a time to talk when your teen is alone, calm, or relaxed. If you feel uncomfortable talking face to face, talking while driving can help. Tell your teen about the signs or symptoms you have noticed, and explain why you’re concerned. Let her know that you are there for her no matter what, and want to help her get sober.
It’s very likely that your teen will feel embarrassed, will deny abuse is a problem, or won’t want to listen. If the signs of abuse are undeniable, however, there are more options.
Addiction negatively affects how the brain processes certain chemicals as well as learning, memory, reward, and risk. This causes many addicted individuals to deny abuse is a problem. If you know you loved one is abusing drugs or alcohol and needs help quitting, contact Clarity Way. We can help your teen — and the rest of your family — recover from the negative effects of addiction.
The pictures in this blog are being used for illustrative purposes only; and any person depicted in the content, if any, is a model.