Experimentation is a natural part of growing up. As a parent, finding the delicate balance between letting your children experiment and guiding them can be difficult. They need to learn from their own mistakes but you also don’t want them to make mistakes that will haunt them. Many adults with addiction problems can trace it back to childhood and teenage years. To make sure your child doesn’t have long-term consequences look for these signs that they may be abusing drugs and or alcohol.
Change In Behavior
Mood swings are big a sign of drug abuse. However, it’s also a sign of being a teenager. Mood changes will also be accompanied by other behavior changes. Problems in school or social interactions will happen as will increased risky behavior. If your child suddenly becomes more withdrawn, sullen, or depressed it could be a sign.
Change In Friends
A change in friend groups often happens when a substance takes over your child’s life. New friends may affirm your child’s new lifestyle choices where old ones would condone it. Ask to meet any new friends that your child has. Any friendships that your child tries to keep secret or separate from you could be a sign of substance abuse.
Change In Hobbies
If your child no longer finds interest in activities they use to be passionate about they may be filling that time with drugs and alcohol now. A new disinterested in sports, music, dance, art, or academia could be a sign of abuse. Substances are used to fill the void that used to be met by the stimulation they used to receive from these hobbies and activities.
Change In Sleeping Habits
If your child begins sleeping less or more than they used to this is a sign that something is wrong. Teenagers will sleep a lot, but sleeping at odd times or for extremely long chunks is not normal. The increased sleeping could be from drugs or from staying up at night being up to no good.
Change In Eating Habits
Just like with sleeping, a change in eating habits is a warning sign. Certain drugs may promote an increase in eating, especially binge eating, which is commonly called the “munchies” while other drugs decrease appetite. Watch their eating habits and take note of any extreme changes. If their eating habits are changing significantly and if it isn’t drugs it could be a sign of other mental problems.
Change In Appearance
Drugs and alcohol will take a toll on your child’s appearance. They may become careless with their appearance or they may begin to dress in more risky or provocative clothing. Marks, yellow teeth, red eyes, or a constantly running nose are all symptoms of drug abuse.
Change In School Performance
School performance is a big indicator of something going wrong. If your child’s grades and behaviors at school begin to slip it might be a sign something is wrong. Academic performance becomes unimportant especially when homework time can be devoted to other activities.
What To Do
Start off by having a conversation with your child and asking them if anything is wrong. It’s important not to seem angry or judgmental. You want them to feel safe opening up to them. Punishment, like grounding, won’t be effective in treating substance abuse problems. It’s important to get them help. Contact one of Florida’s top psychiatrists to discuss treatment options for them. Psychiatrists say getting help early on is extremely important.