Does My Teenager Have a Drug or Alcohol Problem?

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Does My Teenager Have a Drug or Alcohol Problem

How to spot addiction in the people you love most: teenager edition.

Make no mistake, teenagers exist to make our lives difficult. Whether it be failing to appear at school or whether it be shoplifting for kicks, some teens just get in with a bad crowd, and that's that. Unfortunately, any teen that does fall in with a bad crowd runs the risk of ending up as an addict in later life.
As we all know, the habits that we acquire when we are young form the framework for our adult lives. With this in mind, we thought it time that we reviewed how you can spot when your teen is using drugs or alcohol and intercept do something about it.

How Big a Problem is Teen Drug and Alcohol Use?

There is a real risk that your teenager has used drugs or alcohol already. According to Office of National Statistics data, around one in five adults between 16 and 24 years have taken a drug in the last 12 months. This amounts to about 1.3 million people and is a whole percentage more than the previous year. Obviously, those Age 16 or 17 can't be buying alcohol for themselves. It is terrifying to think that someone might have access to illicit drugs even when they are not old enough to buy alcohol yet. This made us curious about the number of children under the age of 16 who were taking drugs or alcohol. We found a report from the RCPCH which found that about 26% of all 15-year-olds in England and Wales have been drunk more than twice. In Scotland, where the drug problem is notorious, the figure was closer to 31%. This is a fall from 51% back in 2001.

Spotting the signs your teen is using drugs or alcohol.

Now that we have awakened to the very real threat that our children are in danger, let's talk about how we can spot the signs that your child or teenager may be using drugs.

1 - Secretive behaviour

Any teenager who has started using drugs or alcohol will want to keep it a secret from you. They may go out at night and not tell you where they're going or return without telling you where they have been. You may get the sense that they're lying to you. All these signs could indicate an addiction.

2 - Financial hardship

while it might be true that most teenagers don't have a steady source of income with their parents, some do. If your teenager works in a part-time job and yet never has any money, they may be suffering from an addiction. Drugs and alcohol are expensive. If their lunch money keeps going, missing, it could be that's what they're spending on.

3 - You don't know their friends

A teenager who is reluctant to introduce you to their friends is usually hiding something. Don't assume that your teenager is embarrassed by you and that's why they don't introduce you. It is more likely that teenager doesn't want you to see what they do in their free time. All are signs of drug addiction.

4 - Word of Mouth

If you happen to live in a close-knit community, you can probably trust your friends and neighbours if they tell you they have seen your child drunk or high. People don't tend to have a reason to lie to you about these things.

5 – Paraphernalia

If your teenager’s room has rolled-up notes in it, then that could be a sign of a serious, class-A drug addiction. If your teenager is buying cigarettes, rolling papers, lighters, or tobacco they could also be smoking cannabis. Alcohol is hard to hate because you could smell it on your breath and because hangovers can be bad for young people. You can view some paraphernalia examples here.

What to do if you suspect your teenager has an addiction problem?

If you're concerned that your teenager does have an addiction problem, there are ways that you can tackle it. Contact Help4addiction today at 0203 955 7700 and talk to one of our skilled and friendly advisers. They can offer you non-judgemental advice on how to deal with an addicted teen. They can also recommend rehab clinics and courses which may suit your needs. You can see our pages on staging an intervention if you think it's necessary. Don't forget that all calls are confidential and that we offer free consultations for drug addictions in the UK.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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