Are you concerned that your child may be hiding a drug or alcohol addiction from you? Early intervention is essential, but it is not always easy to know what to look for. Here are a few of the key warning signs to be aware of.
Relationships with parents and family are often strained during young adult years, and this can make it difficult for parents to know whether your children are dealing with a serious problem like addiction. For this reason, it is all the more important for parents to look for warning signs that may indicate drug or alcohol abuse.
While the suspicion that your child may be using drugs or alcohol is extremely concerning, it is important to remember not to jump to any conclusions. To that end, we are listing a few telltale signs that could mean your teenager is becoming addicted to a substance – but it is important to understand that none of them are definitive.
1. Changes in Appearance
While a change in personal appearance is not always a sign of drug use in teens and young adults, it can certainly serve as a strong indicator of an addiction. In particular, a drop off in personal hygiene and cleanliness should be seen as a warning sign.
As an addiction takes hold, a person’s priorities begin to shift out of necessity in order to make room for new habits associated with the substance. For many addicted teens, good personal hygiene habits are among the first to go.
2. Changes in Relationships
As an addicted teenagers habits and priorities begin to change, so will their relationships. They may fall in with a new crowd – often one that enables or encourages the use of drugs of alcohol. Old friends who are not involved with (or do not agree with) the substance abuse may be pushed to the side – either intentionally or as a matter of course.
Relationships at home are likely to be strained as well. If your child becomes increasingly withdrawn or hostile, this could be a sign of teenage addiction. Of course, it could also signal a host of other changes as well – anything from hormonal changes to social problems – so this should only be considered in light of other addiction signs and symptoms.
3. Mood Swings
The highs and lows of substance use lend themselves to mood swings. This is often amplified in young people, many of whom are already prone to moodiness and emotionally charged responses. If your child has become unusually silent, sullen, depressed or tired, this could be a sign of a number of problems – and drug or alcohol use is among them.
It can be difficult for parents to ascertain the source of mood swings in their teen or young adult children. This is why it is important to try and maintain open communication with them. Mood swings are most likely a sign of stress or anxiety at school or with a relationship, but they could also indicate drug or alcohol abuse.
4. Problems at School
When a young person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, all of their former priorities must be pushed to the side in order to make room for this new substance. For older people, addiction often leads to problems at work. But for young adults, a sudden drop in academic performance may be a red flag.
A drug-addicted student’s grades will almost certainly drop. Truancy or an increased number of sick days may also occur. This is a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If you suspect that your child may have started using drugs or alcohol, speak to a trusted teacher or guidance counsellor at school as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the next report card.
5. Disappearance of Money or Valuables
People who are still living at home rely on their families for financial support, and this can create obvious conflicts when drugs or alcohol enter the scene. Substances like this are expensive – especially for someone without a stable form of income. But of course, they know that their parents will become suspicious if they begin asking for significantly more money on a regular basis.
With that in mind, some people may look for other ways to purchase drugs or alcohol. They may sell some of their possessions, or even those of other family members. If money or valuables around the house begin mysteriously disappearing, this could be a sign that your child is hiding a drug or alcohol addiction.
6. Unusual Smells
This is one of the more obvious signs of teenage drug use, but it still warrants mentioning. Drugs that are smoked – such as marijuana, methamphetamines and crack cocaine – all have their own very distinct smells. While it is unlikely that the teenager will smoke these in a place where their parents are likely to smell it and catch them in the act, the odour may still linger after the act.
Their clothes may smell of smoke. Furthermore, if your child drives a car, there is a good chance that they have been smoking in the car as well, and the smell will likely be much stronger here. Excessive use of air fresheners, chewing gum and breath mints may also be used to cover up the smell – often unsuccessfully.
How to Address Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol in Teens and Young Adults
If it comes to light that your child has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Remember that anger and punishment are not going to solve the problem. Addiction in teenagers is a complex problem that requires specialised care and attention.
The team The Cabin Edge can assist. We operate an outpatient addiction-treatment programme that has been specially designed for young people. We can provide your child with the treatment that he or she needs in a constructive and supportive environment. Contact us today for more information.