Signs your Teenager Might be Getting Involved with Drugs

Any parent of teenagers or young adults worries about drugs at one time or another. With so much media coverage of young people and the issue of drug use, it can be difficult to know what is hype and what is a serious problem. Teenagers are notoriously secretive and uncommunicative, and it can be hard for parents to decipher whether their child is engaging in illegal or dangerous behaviour, or just being a normal moody adolescent. Here are some signs that your teenager might be involved with drugs, and what you can do to help them.

  1. Mood swings and irrational behaviour. Although mood swings are common in teenagers, if you notice a sudden increase in moody behaviour it might be due to something more than just raging hormones.
  2. Changes in appearance. If your child suddenly seems to have less interest in their appearance, and have let their personal hygiene standards slip, this can be a sign they are taking drugs. There are certain physical characteristics that sometimes go with drug and alcohol consumption, including dramatic weight loss or gain, and sores or spots on the skin, particularly around the mouth.
  3. Declining performance at school or work. If your child’s grades have suddenly dropped, or they are experiencing behavioural issues at school, it can be a sign of a wider problem. This can go along with loss of interest in extra-curricular activities and friends.
  4. Changes in personal habits. This can include sudden secretive behaviour, staying out late when they didn’t before, reckless driving and unexplained bumps and bruises. Developing a sudden taste for breath mints might mean they are trying to cover up the smell of smoke or alcohol on their breath, and the use of incense or air fresheners in their bedroom can mean they are trying to hide other smells.
  5. Sudden changes in friends. If your teenager has suddenly developed an entirely new circle of friends and lost interest in the people they used to spend time with, it is possible that drugs are involved.

These signs don’t necessarily mean that your child is using drugs, so it is important not to panic if you have noticed one of the above behaviours. There might be another reason, but it is worth opening up a discussion with your teenager to find out what is going on. Keeping an open line of communication, and letting your child know that they can talk to you, are some of the best ways to help prevent your child getting involved in problematic behaviours.

If you know or suspect that your child is involved with drugs, talking to them about the health and lifestyle risks of drug use might help.

A visit to your local GP can give you some ideas of local support groups or counselling programs in your area, which might be suitable for your teenager.

If your child has already been involved with the police, or they have been charged with a drug-related offence, you will need to obtain legal advice. Experienced drug lawyers might be able to help your teenager avoid a criminal conviction. A conviction and a criminal record can have long-term consequences for them in the future, including impacting on their employment prospects, and hindering their ability to obtain certain visas, and travel.

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