As a parent, one of the most frightening things you may face is the possibility that your child is using drugs, either illicit or over the counter. Addressing a teen’s possible drug use is critical–in fact, it may ultimately be the difference between life or death.
Before you confront your son or daughter, look for these common warning signs that he or she may be using and abusing substances. If you come across any red flags, do not hesitate to speak with your teen or seek professional help in doing so.
During this time, it’s normal for teens to move between different social circles as they grow and explore friendships. But when your teen suddenly abandons his long-time close friends for a completely different group, this may be an indication that more sinister, dangerous changes are at work.
Try to ascertain the reasons for the change–was this the result of a falling out or is it something more? You don’t want to anger your teen, but you do have the right to gently probe for information about these new friends.
Severe, wildly unpredictable changes in mood are also possible warning signs. Yes, it’s true that some degree of moodiness and angst are a natural part of transitioning into young adulthood, but chemical substances can magnify the effect many times over.
Ultimately, you know your child and are likely able to pick up on excessive emotional problems or unnatural behavior. Forgive the occasional surge of hormones, but always be aware of drastic changes that are completely out of line with your teen’s regular disposition and attitude.
Discovering an item of drug-related paraphernalia has caused many a parent to feel an overwhelming sense of fear and panic. Know which items are associated with specific types of drugs and forms so that you will be better prepared to identify them if you come across one. After all, locating drug paraphernalia is easily one of the most easily detectable indicators that your teen is dabbling in drugs, alcohol or both.
Teens who are experimenting with drugs and alcohol often undergo marked changes in their interest levels and enthusiasm for things they’ve long enjoyed. If your teen suddenly loses his long-standing interest in sports or extracurricular activities, you should gently probe to find the cause for this abrupt about-face.
In some cases, simple social conflicts may alienate a teen from his or her peers. In the most dangerous situations, on the other hand, this change could be an indication that your teen has abandoned these pursuits in favor of one that is a direct threat to their health and happiness.
As teens transition into young adulthood, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your finger on their pulse. It’s painful, but it is also natural. When it comes down to it, you have an enormous responsibility to look for potential danger in the form of drugs and alcohol. Understand that a little alienation is acceptable if it is in your teen’s best interest. Remember that substance abuse is a direct threat to your teen’s health and happiness and move forward accordingly.