This is the third blog of the four part series Warning Signs.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports that among substance abuse in teenagers alcohol is the highest with roughly 35% of high school seniors having reported drinking alcohol, 21% of smoking marijuana, and 11% of smoking cigarettes. While genetic factors and life stressors or peer pressure can influence teen substance abuse, parents and guardians can help by monitoring their children’s activities and by keeping channels of communication open.
Realize that when you start this conversation most teens will deny the use of any type of substances in fear that they will be in trouble for their behaviors. While some of them may be telling the truth and they are not actually abusing drugs or alcohol, it can be helpful to also know the warning signs of substance abuse if you have any further suspicions.
Teens may exhibit many symptoms from the use of drugs and alcohol, but one of the most beneficial things I was taught was to look for signs of bizarre behavior. Youth that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol will exhibit altered moods and may display unordinary behavior such as distorted thoughts or aggressive behaviors.
Usually when a youth begins the use of any substance, they are dealing with some type of life stressor. Prior to the warning signs of substance use, you can identify warning signs of the youth being at risk for substance use. Some of the warning signs of at-risk youth are: death of a loved one, a divorce, failing grades, abuse, a broken relationship, family financial hardship, or trauma. If you see these warning signs encourage them to share what they’re going through and help them to know that they can trust you.
Remember, you are not a licensed counselor. If the problem is something that you feel a youth could benefit from the help of a professional, please feel free to make a referral to a local therapist. Also, seek information from your local AA group to find when a youth meeting is being held.
Click here to read the next blog in this series.