We all know that adolescence can be a challenging phase, and sometimes teens turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. As a parent, it can be scary to consider that your child may be drinking, vaping, or using drugs. Are you aware of the common issues that teens face? While teen mood swings are normal, behavioral and physical changes can be warning signs of drug abuse and addiction. 

Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

Drugs affect many areas of a teen’s life. Mixing alcohol with other drugs can also lead to dangerous effects. Pay attention to changes in mood and personality, behavior, appearance, and physical health.

Changes in mood and personality

Drugs affect your teen’s mental health. Drugs interfere with chemicals in the brain, arousing certain emotions and dampening others.

Your teen may be:

  • Withdrawn or depressed
  • Hostile or uncooperative
  • Secretive or deceitful
  • Unable to focus


Changes in behavior

Drugs can change the way teens act. Drugs cause mood swings, risky behavior, and increased need for privacy, Drug abuse and addiction can make drugs the focus of a person’s life, changing how they interact with friends and family.

Your teen may experience:

  • Drop in grades or misbehavior at school
  • Change in friend group or not spending time with people they were once close to
  • Going out at night or disappearing for long periods of time
  • Locking doors


Changes in appearance

Drug use can cause short-term and long-term effects on how someone looks. Over time, a teen on drugs may show noticeable changes in appearance.

Changes in appearance can include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Unexplained bruises, wounds, or track marks on arms
  • Rapid or slurred speech
  • Careless hygiene or disheveled appearance

Physical health

Drugs affect the body and can lead to lasting damage. Drugs can have serious short-term and long-term effects.

Physical side effects of drugs can include:

  • Frequent sickness
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Nosebleeds
  • Shaking
  • Seizures and vomiting

Learn more about symptoms of substance abuse and learn how to help your teen in our online Parent Wise course.

If your child is showing signs of drug addiction or alcohol abuse, it’s important you talk to them and seek a treatment program. Despite the myth that all teens experiment, casual drug use and unhealthy patterns can quickly develop into full-blown substance use disorder.


Dangers of Teen Substance Abuse

The consequences of drinking and using drugs are real. Even brief amounts of drug use in teens can cause serious harm to teen’s health and well-being.


Effects of Drugs on on the Brain

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the teenage brain is susceptible to addiction. People who start drinking in their teens are more likely to develop alcohol dependence.

  • Damaging connections within the brain
  • Reducing ability to feel pleasure
  • Creating problems with memory
  • Higher risk of mental health issues like depression, suicide, and psychosis


Poor Impulse Control

Drinking alcohol and using drugs can encourage to poor decision-making, leading to:

  • Car accidents
  • Criminal records
  • Unprotected sex
  • Damaged relationships with friends or family members

If you have any reason to suspect your teen is using drugs or drinking alcohol, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution and have a talk with your teen. Prepare to take action by getting information to talk with your teen about drugs and their effects.

Learn About Teen Substance Abuse with Parent-Wise

Our online Parent Wise course helps you build awareness about teen issues like alcohol and drugs, as well as the positive parenting skills to have meaningful conversations with your teen. 

In Parent-Wise, you’ll learn about:Parent-Wise Features

  • Underage drinking 
  • Nicotine
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drug misuse
  • Motives for substance abuse
  • Social pressures

You’ll also learn related skills that can help you and your child respond effectively to substance abuse: 

  • Healthy coping skills
  • Building self-esteem and connecting with values
  • Dealing with peer pressure
  • Communication skills for effective expression
  • Setting boundaries
  • Developing positive relationships
  • Active listening

Here’s what parents had to say about our substance abuse resource:

“The course was good and informative. It gives me a reason to start a discussion about drug and alcohol use. I learned some new things and was reminded of others.”

“This course was amazing. I wish I would have had this course when my oldest daughter was a teen and experimenting with alcohol and prescription drugs.”

Take action and get informed about substance abuse.
Enroll in Parent Wise today! 

Who is This Course For?
  • Parents of teens who are going through teen issues
  • Parents of pre-teens or teens who want to learn more to prevent teen issues
  • Family members or other adults who want to be aware and there for a teen in their life

3rd Millennium Classrooms is a prevention education provider to middle and high schools nationwide.
Learn more by visiting web.dev.3rdmil.com.