By Cristina Utti
If your son or daughter has been behaving out of the ordinary and you suspect he/she may be experimenting with drugs or alcohol, listen to your parental instincts. Although addiction can happen at any point in someone’s life, it usually begins in adolescence. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to become educated about drug and alcohol abuse. It is vital to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug and/or alcohol abuse as early as possible.
Below are some warning signs to be aware of:
- Change in personality – This one can be a little tricky because teenagers are full of hormones that affect their moods. One minute they can be happy, and the next minute sad, angry, or crying. This behavior in normal to a degree. Parents know their children. If you suspect that your child’s character or attitude has gone to extremes such as being more talkative and energetic than normal or sleeping more than usual, these can be signs of a drug/alcohol problem.
- Withdrawing from interests – The teen years are when we figure out our likes and dislikes, and take a stand with what we want to do with our time. Refusing to go to church or refusing to visit the grandparents may be normal. If you notice that your child stops doing the activities that he/she loved (such as sports, clubs, art, etc.), this can be a warning sign. When addiction begins to take over, it takes precedence over other activities that one once found enjoyable.
- School – One of the first signs of a teenager experiencing some kind of problem is a change in their school performance. Skipping class, not wanting to go to school, getting in trouble, and grades dropping are all signs of a problem. Do not take these lightly.
- Weight change – Loss of appetite and a significant amount of weight loss can mean more than dieting.
- Money problems – Unexplained need for money or money missing from the house- be aware of manipulating behavior when your child asks for money or if you find money missing.
- Feeling sick – If your teen is getting sick and refuses to go to the doctor, there may be a problem. Look for signs such as blood shot eyes, dilated pupils, frequent nosebleeds, headaches, marks on arms, profuse sweating, nausea or vomiting, and shakes or tremors.
- Privacy – If your teen has always left their bedroom door open and now locks it, causing you to be suspicious, follow your gut. If they are acting suspicious, they probably are doing something that they do not want you to know about.
If you notice any of these signs in your child, do some research and do some snooping. Be prepared for a talk with your teen that will help, not alienate him/her. There is help out there for parents of teens that are struggling with drug abuse and addiction. When you love someone, it really is a family matter because even if one person is ill the entire family feels it. If you need to get help for your self first to assist you in dealing with your teen, then do so. In doing this, you may not only be saving your sanity, but also your child’s life.
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, contact us today at 800.218.6727. Let our skilled professionals walk you through the steps that lead to recovery.