Teenage Substance Abuse


Teenage Substance Abuse

Whether parents have talked with their children about alcohol and drug use or not, many teenagers will try tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs or other substances. Some teenagers will try one or more of them once or even a few times then stop but others like the way the substance makes them feel and are unable to control the urge to use them again.


Not only is the use of alcohol and abuse of drugs dangerous, but they can lead to life threatening consequence no matter what age a person is.

Substances Used Among Teens

Substance abuse is very common among teenagers today and a lot of teens will try various different substances including cigarettes, alcohol, inhalants, prescription drugs, over the counter medications and illegal drugs for a lot of reasons. Out of all the substances abused among teens, alcohol is the most commonly used.

Why Teenagers Abuse Alcohol or Drugs

There are many different reasons teens drink alcohol or use drugs. It's also common for kids at this age to try new things and participate in risky behaviors. Many teens will abuse substances because it seems exciting, or they want to fit in with their friends or with a particular group of peers. Teens may also drink alcohol or abuse drugs because it makes them feel grown up. Many teens just like the way certain substances make them feel so they continue to abuse them, they don't realize just how dangerous this is though.

Parents or caregivers should be aware of the signs that a teen may be drinking using drugs or abusing other substances. Some of the signs of substance abuse include:

  • Decreased or loss of interest in school
  • Drop in grades
  • Skipping classes
  • Skipping school altogether
  • Change in friends that have little or no interest in family or school activities
  • Coming home late on the weekends
  • Odor of alcohol on their breath

Signs of Teen Drug or Substance Abuse

  • Red eyes
  • Frequent use of eye drops (used to cover up redness caused by smoking marijuana)
  • Finding chemical soaked rags or paper could mean a teen is using inhalants inhaling the vapors
  • Overly tired
  • Decrease or loss of interest in school
  • Drop in grades
  • Skipping classes
  • Skipping school altogether
  • Change in friends that have little or no interest in family or school activities

Types of Drug Paraphernalia

There are many different items that can be identified as drug paraphernalia which also includes some ordinary household products and things disguised to resemble ordinary items that can be hard for a parent to identify. Drug paraphernalia is illegal in many states but it can still be obtained in various ways, some ordinary household products can be modified to make, use or even conceal illegal narcotics.

Some drug paraphernalia can be used with a variety of different drugs but there are also certain types of paraphernalia used only with specific substances. Some typical examples of drug paraphernalia include the following common yet suspicious items:

  • Containers of Vicks or other eucalyptus aroma-rubs, these are used to enhance the effects of drugs like ecstasy.
  • Surgical masks or dust masks are used in combination with the Vicks or other eucalyptus aroma rubs to enhance the effects of ecstasy.
  • Rave flow sticks are also used to enhance the effects of ecstasy in a club or party setting.
  • Rolling papers are typically used to roll marijuana cigarettes which are referred to as 'joints'.
  • Bong water pipes are used to smoke marijuana (pot) and other mind altering drugs that are smoked.
  • Crack pipes are just simple glass tubes that have a screen inside which prevents the crack from being inhaled.
  • Drug pipes can range from colorful glass pipes which are referred to as 'bowls' to a soda can with small holes in the body used for smoking different substances.
  • Syringes are used to inject various types of substances intravenously.

The use of alcohol and certain types of drugs among teens continues to be a serious problem in the United States. If you suspect your teen is drinking alcohol, using prescription drugs or over the counter medications, abusing illegal street drugs or any other substance seek the advice of their pediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist if you're not sure how to handle the situation.

To help avoid teenage substance abuse, parents and caregivers need to be good role models themselves and set good examples for their children. Talk with your children when they're young about the dangers of alcohol and substance use and continue talking with them as they're growing up. Always try hard to keep the lines of communication open.

If your teenager already has a problem with drugs or alcohol and you're not even sure who to contact for help or you just need some helpful advice, don't hesitate to call 1-800-559-9503 to speak with an addiction specialist, they're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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