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Parents, Adolescents, and Drug Abuse: Using a Substance Abuse Professional

No parent wants to believe their child could be using drugs.  Yet, statistics prove that many teenagers are engaged in using mood altering substances and many die each year due to substance use. Such troubling information may prompt some parents to consider the possible drug-related issues in their own child’s life.  Though the realization of a child’s struggle with addiction may be devastating, there are several ways parents can be proactive in order to recognize signs of substance use and help their adolescents.

First, the signs and symptoms of substance use, or substance abuse evaluation, may assist parents in determining if their child has a drug problem. Children who are using mood-altering substances may have a change in school performance including failing grades, absences from extra-curricular activities, or increased disrespect toward school faculty and other authority figures.

Second, there may be a drastic change in dress, language, beliefs, music preference, behaviors and friends. Teenagers using drugs may exhibit increased withdrawal from the family unit and increased conflict with parents, especially when parents attempt to set limits. Often times, adolescents using mood-altering substances have sudden changes in moods, lose motivation, and present an uncaring attitude.

Finally, parents should pay attention to smells on clothing or in the bedroom, and look for excess use of eye drops, room deodorizers, and cologne or perfume. Consider contacting a substance abuse professional for other symptoms and signs.

Open lines of communication between parents and adolescents can assist adolescents as they develop a sense of self-identity and learn appropriate socialization.  Parents need to be involved and open to the struggles their adolescent may be facing and encourage professional help when needed. These early steps may decrease an adolescent’s chance of continued substance use in adulthood, and defer the consequences of drug abuse as well.  Parents must remain educated and aware in order to assist their child overcome avoid and overcome substance abuse and dependence.

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