All parents can agree on one thing: raising teenagers is not easy. These years are often marked by mood swings, acts of rebellion, misbehavior and a constant desire to distance themselves from their parents. As these behaviors are perfectly normal in teenagers, this behavior makes it hard to detect early signs of a bigger problem: a drug or alcohol addiction. Teenagers are not immune to the dangers of drugs and alcohol: almost 70 percent of high school students have tried alcohol, half have taken an illegal drug, and more than 20 percent have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose.1 Early detection of drug and alcohol addiction can prevent the problem from escalating and help your child get the help they need sooner than later.
Here are some early detection signs of drug abuse in teenagers:
Change in behavior:
Changes in behavior can be hard to distinguish between normal teenage behavior and signs of a larger problem. However, common signs of drug and alchohol abuse includes a change in friends, isolation or disinterest in activities they probably enjoyed.
Take note if your child is hanging out with “the wrong crowd”. While this does not mean they are partaking in dangerous activities, being surrounded in that environment certainly makes the temptation and chances higher.
Lack of motivation or disinterest in their normal hobbies or activities is also a common sign of addiction. This can include performing poorly in school or a withdrawal or disinterest in their normal extracurricular activities like sports teams or band practice.
Along with the above changes, isolation is another early detection sign of drug and alcohol abuse. This can include wanting to left alone in their room, skipping family activities and preferring to stay home instead of engage in activities they previously found enjoyable.
The following physical changes are also early detection sign of drug and alcohol abuse. Physical changes can include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Unexplained drastic weight change
- Poor hygiene
- Unusual bruises, cuts and sores
It can be hard to detect signs of alcohol and drug abuse in teenagers as they usually exhibit changes in behavior and mood regardless if it is a sign of a larger problem or not. The key is to continue having an open line of communication with a teenager and remain observant of whether behavior is “normal teenager stuff” or the sign of a bigger problem.
OUR PHILOSOPHY OF HEALING
At Gray Wolf Ranch, we believe that drug and alcohol addiction is treatable and that full recovery is possible. The following tenets guide our program and have helped us create a nurturing, respectful environment of healing. Each resident is unique, and each path to drug and alcohol recovery is, in most respects, a private journey. Gray Wolf provides the professional assistance to guide and facilitate that journey, and residents take an active part in establishing their own plan for recovery from local areas like Coupeville, Chimacum and Port Townsend as well as all over the US with residents coming in from Illinois, Minnesota and Connecticut to name a few. Ultimately, we believe the most effective and sustainable path to recovery is one traveled with friends. At the heart of Gray Wolf is community and connection. This is a place where mutually supportive, lifelong relationships are forged.
Source: Johnston, L.D.; O’Malley, P.M.; Bachman, J.G.; and Schulenberg, J.E. Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings, 2013. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2013.