Teen Addiction: Signs Your Child Is Abusing Drugs (And What to Do About It)

Studies show that teens are using fewer illegal drugs than ever before. Their abuse of prescription drugs has also dropped significantly.

And while that is a considerable victory, it doesn’t mean that you can relax as a parent. Drug use can begin earlier than you may think and teens are often deep into their drug addiction before parents recognize the symptoms of a teen addict.

The first symptom to notice in a teen’s addiction is a change in mannerisms and we’ll discuss them in this blog post.

Keep reading to learn more about some of the tell-tale ways that your teen is using that may not be what you expect.

Frequent Changes in Friends

While for some teens, frequently changing friends means that they’re experimenting with which group they fit in. That’s totally normal.

However, if you observe your child changing groups of friends so often you couldn’t even name who they’re hanging out with, this can be a problem.

Drug use can begin for many teens as early as 6th grade, so this is around the age that you may want to start paying closer attention to their habits and behaviors.

You may also notice your child hanging out with friends you may have explicitly told them not to or people whom you do not approve of. This is another warning sign to consider as a parent.


Spending time alone in their room is also a normal teenage activity. Having a child spend quality time by themselves regularly shouldn’t be alarming in itself.

However, a teen that is using may take this to an excess. This may mean they don’t leave their room the entire weekend or skip out on things you know they’d otherwise look forward to, like family holidays.

They may also be generally difficult to communicate with. Again, this can be a normal symptom of being a teenager, but a teen addict typically does not confide in anyone.

Most teenagers will have a friend or family member they feel comfortable around, but an addict will stay uncommunicative with practically everyone.

Violating Rules

Often, this is where parents begin to pay attention to their child’s behaviors and possible drug use. If your child stops attending school or is often late, this can be a sign of drug use.

You may get communication from your child’s teachers that they’re not showing up to school, even though you’ve seen them leave. You may also be informed that your child is leaving school early without your or the school’s permission.

Your child may also begin violating curfew and other rules set by the house.

While most teens will test boundaries, it is important to draw a distinction between the behaviors. A teen testing boundaries may do one of the above behaved once or twice, while a teen who is an addict may do this habitually.

Teen Addiction: What to Do If It’s Time for an Intervention

While some children experiment with drugs and never become addicts, others don’t have this experience and may develop a serious problem. Seeking help for your teen’s addiction as early as possible is important.

A teen addict or even an addicted adult can tear a family apart, so take action sooner rather than later.

If you suspect your child is abusing drugs, you can contact us here to start the process of recovery. Early detection is the key to keeping your child drug-free for the long haul.

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Heather Hayes & Associates is your trusted ally for navigating the complex world of treatment and recovery options for substance abuse, mental health issues, and process addictions.

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