Ways to Tell if Your Teen is Experimenting with Drugs
Drug use has insinuated its way into every part of our society. Over the past few decades, it has become an epidemic. As a parent, you might feel alarmed about sending your son or daughter out into the world knowing that various substances may be proliferating the schools and the streets. Our best defense in this situation is always communication. If we talk to our kids honestly about the risks involved with substance abuse then they’ll be that much more likely to make informed choices. However, some may succumb to the desire to experiment – or else they may give in to peer pressure – despite our best efforts.
Detecting drug use early on allows us to intervene before our kids develop chronic problems. Certain changes are more visible than others
Most substances produce changes in behavior that can become obvious to us once we know what to look for. Detecting drug use early on allows us to intervene before our kids develop chronic problems. Certain changes are more visible than others. Sleeplessness, for example, can be a sign that your teen has been experimenting with strong stimulants like cocaine or speed (particularly if the pattern of disrupted sleep has come on abruptly, and there are no circumstances to account for it). Marijuana, on the other hand, produces symptoms on the other end of the spectrum: lethargy, scattered attention, memory lapses, and lack of motivation.
These are generalizations, and every young person will respond to drugs in ways that are particular to their temperaments and physiology. The key thing to look for is abrupt changes in behavior. Mood swings, for example, can be a giveaway. Your teen may be withdrawn and isolated one moment and then overly talkative and animated the next. Now, vacillations in mood are a hallmark of adolescence, attributable in part to all the hormonal changes that young people are weathering, so this is not always an indication that drugs are a part of a kid’s life. But rapid shifts in both behavior and energy level can, more often than not, point to the influence of substances.
In the larger arc of our kids’ lives, the effects of these behavioral changes can be seen at school when productivity and grades suddenly plummet, and in the social environment when our kids suddenly break away from previous friendships and start spending their time with new groups of people. One of the most insidious things about drugs is that they can quickly become high priority in people’s lives. If having access to drugs requires letting grades slip and associating with a new crowd, many kids will be willing to make the sacrifice – or else they’ll just start doing so without realizing it.
All of these signs – the changes in the bigger picture as well as the smaller changes at home – can provide us with clues that our kids may be fooling around with substances that are disrupting their lives. Such a reality can be hard to face, but if it’s not confronted then it can easily grow into a much bigger problem down the road. Abrupt and unexplained changes in our kids’ behavior patterns are warnings that we need to take seriously. Young people are often living in the moment. They can’t always see when they’re in over their heads, nor can they foresee the impact that their choices today may have upon their future lives. It’s up to us to do a little detective work, to identify when they’re in trouble and than lend what help and guidance we can.