Teen drug addiction often begins with the misuse of legal or illegal substances. Once the misuse becomes a regular habit the troubled teen’s body and/or mind gets used to the presence of the drug and they begin to feel like they need the drug to function or feel normal. At that point, their drug(s) of choice become the driving force in their thoughts and actions. Blinded by the substance, they continue to abuse it and ignore the fact that they are becoming or have become an addict.Troubled teens can abuse drugs for a number of reasons. Peer pressure, curiosity, or trying to escape from their own personal issues are some of the most common reasons for teen drug use. Whether or not a troubled teen becomes addicted depends on many factors, including their genetics and their personality. Because teens’ brains are still developing, drug abuse and teen drug addiction can be especially harmful during the teen years. This may also make them more susceptible to teen drug addiction. There are many drugs that teens can become addicted to, including: AlcoholTobaccoMarijuanaCocaineHeroinSteroidsMethamphetaminePain killers Some of the normal changes that teens go through may seem strange to parents, making it difficult to tell if a troubled teen is addicted to drugs. Also, many of the symptoms of teen drug addiction can also be symptoms of other problems, including mental health problems like eating disorders or depression. Some symptoms to watch for include: Sudden changes in friends or appearance (including clothing, personal hygiene or weight)Loss of interest in activitiesWithdrawal from family or friendsDrop in performance in schoolSelling possessions, in order to get money for drugsStealing or being involved in other illegal activities or dishonesty Having mood swings or acting depressed, anxious, or angryDeveloping strange personal habits, like twitching, grinding teeth, or picking at skinHallucinating or having delusions about things that are not realStrange behavior, like acting unusually silly, loud, or confusedChanges in habits or routinesUnexplained injuries or frequent illnessesSmelling strange or using items to hide the smell of drugs, like perfume, mouth wash, gum or breath mints, air freshener, or incenseWearing clothing related to drugs or drug useHaving objects used for taking or hiding drugs These symptoms, or other concerning behaviors, may be a sign that your troubled teen needs help. Because teen drug addiction is difficult to overcome, parents and friends can best help their troubled teens by intervening before they use drugs or before they become addicted to them. The sooner teens with a drug problem get help, the better their chances for recovery. Parents can help by: Talking to teens about the dangers of using drugs and asking them if they or anyone they know uses drugsSetting clear rules about teens’ activities, including drug use, with reasonable consequences, and enforcing those consequences if the rules are brokenKeeping track of teen’s activities, including getting to know their friends and knowing where and how they spend their timeEncouraging teens in their positive activities and emphasizing the importance of getting an educationFinding time for the family to spend together doing fun activitiesGetting help for teens for any problems they may be having at school or with their health. Tutoring and counseling are often available for free or at a very low cost through schools or community programs Overcoming an addiction is very difficult, but it can be done, especially once the teen realizes that they have a problem. The treatment for teen drug addiction varies according to the drug, but usually involves working with a doctor or therapist of some sort. Relapsing is always a possibility, especially in our youth. Parents have to be patient, loving, and supportive through the process. Family counseling can help members of the family deal with the teen’s drug addiction. Support groups are also available for teens overcoming addictions to drugs and for the family members and friends of troubled teens with an addiction.
When adolescent boys and girls are at-risk with substance abuse, or behavioral issues, behavior modification programs, as well as cognitive therapy, can result in the positive changes he or she needs for a long lasting transformation.