Different types of addictions can happen to different people.
It is heartbreaking and difficult to figure out if your child is involved in substance abuse and learn that they’re struggling. Many of the warning signs of addiction are common behaviors in young adults or teens. Some are also signs and symptoms of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety.
Don’t be afraid if you suspect someone has a drug or behavioral addiction, such as gambling, the internet, shopping, or pornography. Be ready to take the initiative and start a conversation to ask them questions about drinking or drug use.
Hearing that they’re struggling with an addiction or substance abuse is difficult for any parent, but preparing your response might help pave the way for more favorable results.
Signs of an Alcoholic or Addicted Teen
Teen alcohol abuse and addiction to prescription or street drugs are serious problems. Some indicators can help you identify if you or someone you love may be suffering from an addiction.
Some warning signs of addiction you might want to watch out for are:
1. Personality and Mood Changes
Youth addiction is often associated with mental health issues like depression. Anxiety and depression are causes of addiction, and they also result from drug abuse. Many signs of drug use and alcoholism are similar to mental health symptoms, making it difficult to assess which issue came first.
A licensed mental health professional can assess any mental health concerns and recommend the appropriate treatment.
2. Unaccountable Gain or Loss of Money
Gaining or losing money is also one of the warning signs of addiction. Many drug users become drug dealers and come home with unknown income sources. However, the reverse is also true; some children steal from their parents and siblings because they use up their money. Beware of lies; they may say they’re only holding the money for their friend, or they lost the money you gave them. Look out for game consoles, jewelry, or gadgets that go missing. Be on the lookout for unusual debit card problems.
3. Missing Drugs From the Medicine Cabinet
Those with teenage addictions will go through medicine cabinets in your home, in your relative’s home, in their friend’s home, or while babysitting. Many young people know which medications can get them high, such as painkillers and ADHD medication.
4. Changes in Physical Health and Appearance
Addicted youths tend to be less concerned about their appearance and hygiene. You may notice their clothes aren’t as clean as they used to be, or they appear more exhausted due to lack of sleep. They might smell more if they’re taking fewer baths and showers. They might not eat as much as they used to, or they’re eating too much.
You might also notice bruises or abrasions, nosebleeds, seizures, and vomiting.
Instead of focusing on their physical health, they now pour all their concentration into thinking about how they can get more drugs. This is one of the warning signs of addiction parents often comment on.
5. Friendship Changes
Changes in your child’s friendship are warning signs of addiction that are difficult to observe, especially if you’re unfamiliar with their friends. Teen alcohol abuse can cause one of two things to happen to your child’s friendships: either new friends replace the old ones, or your child finds different sets of friends. Children might be very secretive about their phones in both cases.
6. Drastic Changes in School Attendance and Grades
Addiction also manifests itself in your child’s behavior at school. However, most schools don’t have the resources or the means to recognize these warning signs of addiction. Other signs of an alcoholic or addicted teen parents should look out for include tardiness, attendance problems, or dropping grades. Talk to the school directly. Do not rely on automated messages that your child can delete when you return from work.
How and Where to Look for Addiction Warning Signs
Learning how and where to search for warning signs of addiction can help you determine if your child is using drugs and the causes of addiction.
You might find signs of drug use in:
1. Their Bedroom
Your boundaries with your child may go beyond their bedroom doors, especially if you have reasons to be concerned. You may or may not tell them beforehand, but be ready to explain why you are searching their room and tell them you’re only concerned for their safety and health.
Some of the most common places to conceal vapes, paraphernalia, alcohol, or drugs are:
- Boxes or cases for jewelry, makeup, pencil cases, or earbuds
- Under a mattress or other furniture under the bed.
- Potted plants, buried in the dirt
- Between or within books
- Beneath a loose floorboard
- Over-the-counter medicine bottles and containers
- Empty candy bags
- Fake soda cans and other containers designed to conceal their contents
Do not forget to check their phones and digital devices. Are you familiar with the people they frequently contact? Do their messages and social media posts point to drug use or disagree with what they have told you?
If you find evidence of drug use in your search, be prepared for a conversation and don’t let the argument of invasion of privacy deter you. Be firm in your search decision and the boundaries you have set.
2. Their Smell
Talk with your child after they come home from hanging out with friends. You might smell alcohol or cigarette smoke on their breath, clothing, and hair if they smoke or drink.
3. Their Behavior
Watch for warning signs of addiction in their behavior. How do they behave after a night out with friends? Are they loud and outgoing, full of hysterical laughter? Or are they unusually clumsy to the point they fall into furniture, walk into walls, trip over their own feet and knock things over? Are they withdrawn, moody, and slack-eyed at night? Do they feel queasy or unable to walk?
4. Their Eyes
Teen alcohol abuse and drug use are also evident in their eyes. Drinking alcohol may cause their pupils to dilate, experience difficulty in focusing, and flush their face and cheeks red. Red, heavy-lidded, and constricted pupils indicate your child may have used marijuana.
Six Tips for Parents With Kids Suffering From Addiction
Different types of addiction and substance abuse can tear families apart and test a parent’s ability to address substance abuse in their family. It is important to remain calm and not lose your cool.
Above all else, they are your child. Show them how much you love them, and don’t blame yourself for what has happened. How you respond makes a big difference to their recovery. Decide on what you need to do, and remember you are not alone in this journey.
1. Strengthen your relationship with one another.
Addictive substances and behaviors are difficult to avoid. Addicts will deceive their way into obtaining more of their drugs without caring about the consequences of their actions. Their deceitful actions can seriously damage any relationship you build with them.
Strengthen and rebuild your relationship with assertive and open communication. Assertive communication is key to identifying problems early and resolving them correctly. Try active listening and asking questions to create a genuine connection and a great conversation. The best types of questions to ask are open-ended and non-judgemental ones. Open-ended questions are designed to help you learn more about your child and allow them to share their hopes, fears, and concerns.
Too much emotion is not part of assertive communication. If you cannot control your emotions, leave with the intent to come back to the topic at hand. Try to return to the conversation within a reasonable time; ignoring the situation will not make it disappear.
2. Develop guidelines.
Setting clear guidelines will establish expectations regarding acceptable and unacceptable behavior for your child and help you work out your reaction when situations arise.
Guidelines are most effective when created in collaboration between you and your child. This allows all parties to have a say on the consequences of their behavior before said behavior is finished.
The best guidelines will look like a list of cause-and-effect statements with possible consequences and behaviors. It’s impossible to anticipate all types of situations, but having set guidelines minimizes the chances of emotional reactions that lead to less-desirable outcomes.
Be consistent with your guidelines; the strength of your guidelines won’t matter if you are not consistent with them and will only weaken your relationship with your child.
3. Set boundaries.
If guidelines are going to be the basis for both you and your child’s behaviors, then boundaries are things you and your child will and won’t do. These boundaries represent acceptable ways for people to treat other people.
Drug addicts are known for manipulating others to test their boundaries. Set your boundaries when you are calm and think about what things you can and won’t accept rationally. Doing so helps you avoid inconsistencies when they try testing your boundaries.
4. Encourage positive treatment and behavior.
Your teenager may experience a loss of confidence, self-esteem, and a diminished sense of power when there is too much focus on their mistakes and poor decisions. These can lead them to continue using drugs.
Try to focus on their positives instead and encourage desirable behaviors.
Encouragement and optimism build a sense of teamwork and cooperation while reducing conflict or negativity. This strategy helps your child learn new ways to cope with stress, get involved in new activities, develop more suitable relationships and be better equipped to face new challenges.
5. Establish clear communication.
Those with teenage addictions are already in a delicate state. Do not assume that you understand what they are going through. It’s OK to not “get” them, but make sure they know they can trust you and reach out to you for help with their issues.
Remember that talking to your children about drugs and confronting addiction are two different conversations. Avoid confrontations whenever possible.
Psychologists recommend asking teenagers about their friends to have a conversation with them. You might gain insight into their feelings by talking about their friends who use drugs or are getting into trouble because of it.
Do not act out of emotion. Don’t judge. Be open-minded and understand that the direction of your conversation will determine your next steps.
6. Get help from family members and professionals.
When warning signs of addiction begin to show, it’s time to seek help; you’re not a superhero, and no one expects you to be one. Don’t assume you can help your teenager all by yourself; situations like these can easily overwhelm you and your teen, setting you up for failure.
Seeking help from others can help make dealing with addiction and substance abuse more manageable. Getting yourself and your child with addiction help from family and professionals will help you maintain a calm mind, gain different perspectives, and make the right decisions for the future.
Don’ hesitate and ask the following people for help when you notice addiction warning signs:
- Immediate family members
- Family friends
- Intervention specialists
- Your child’s close friends
- Teachers and school counselors
Contact a professional immediately if you see signs of teenage addictions. They might have a harder time quitting substance abuse the longer you allow it to continue. A family doctor can screen your child to determine if they are experimenting with drugs or have a substance abuse disorder. Outpatient treatments are available for teens with mild substance problems; however, those with more serious issues will need inpatient rehabilitation.
Give Your Child the Addiction Help They Need
Help them find the tools they need to fight their teenage addictions.
Get help immediately if you suspect that you or someone you care about has a problem. The earlier an addict seeks help, the better. Haven House Recovery Center’s facility for addiction recovery in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, accepts males 18 to 45 years of age. We can also make exceptions for older applicants.
We’ll make sure to stay with them on the path to recovery. Contact us today.