The use of illicit drugs and alcohol in teenagers has become a growing social problem. Unfortunately, it is common and easy for teenagers to have access to illegal substances like alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.
As parents, we don’t even come close to imagine our loved ones in the unnerving scenario of drug abuse. However, it is a reality that we need to acknowledge in order to confront it. Timing is crucial to identify drug abuse before health complications have a permanent impact on the lives of teenagers.
This article aims to help parents become aware of 5 warning signs that might suggest the need for running an alcohol and drug screening on teenagers.
Everyone is entitled to their privacy and some teens are naturally introverted. However, drastic withdrawal from family members with whom they had a close bond might be a sign of drug consumption. Secretive behavior often involves the following:
- Isolation. If they prefer to be alone locked out in their rooms or avoid regular family activities.
- Poor communication. If they become too distant or simply stop communicating with the family. A sign of poor communication is to avoid eye contact.
- Absence. When they are out of home for extended periods and no one knows where they are or what they are doing.
Physical Appearance Changes
Drugs have temporary side effects that cause distinctive changes in the physical appearance. If you suspect of your teen using drugs, look for the following signs and symptoms:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Widely dilated pupils
- Pinpoint pupils
- Abnormal and sudden weight loss or gain
- Poor oral hygiene
- Needle tracks (teens tend to cover the marks by wearing long-sleeved clothing)
- Dripping nostrils
- Shaking or constant bug crawling sensation
- Disheveled appearance
Is this new behavior part of the hormonal change of growing up? Or does your teen needs a drug screening?
Unstable behavior caused by drugs involves signs of:
- Mood swings
- Crying spells
- Unexplained and constant fatigue.
- Lack of motivation
- Irritability or difficult temperament
- Aggressive behavior
- Anxious behavior. For example, picking at their clothes, skin, or hair.
Drugs offer a brief period of euphoria and high energy. The problem is that when the drug effect is gone, there is a chemical imbalance in the brain which causes these signs of instability.
Change of Friends
A sudden change of friends is a common red flag. These are the kind of friends that parents don’t either know, trust, or approve of. There are exceptions, but it is important to note if the behavior has changed after meeting new people.
A subtle, yet important, sign is a change in the home environment. You might notice new or missing items from your home. Teens need these items to continue to consume drugs. Items to pay attention are:
- Drug paraphernalia. For example, bongs, eye drops, smoking pipes, glass pipes, lighters, porcelain bowls, tin foil, aluminum foil wrappers, syringes, capsules, etc.
- Missing items like over-the-counter drugs, drug prescriptions, or alcohol.
Prevention and Intervention
It is necessary for parents and guardians to know the signs of drug use. Only by identifying these signs, we’ll be able to implement preventive measures and intervention protocols.
If you suspect your teen is using drugs, the first step is to confirm it in a drug screening lab.
Don’t hesitate to reach for medical and psychological help if you believe your teen is abusing drugs.
BASS Urgent Care provides a full range of lab services for you and your loved ones. We are here to help.