What Is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse is when an individual engages in a detrimental pattern of using a mood-altering substance or substances. Typically, relationships suffer when a person is engaging in substance abuse, and this can lead to problems at home, work and school. Many parents are confused by what is substance abuse. Substance abuse not only refers to drugs, but it also includes legal substances like alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes. Often, teens begin abusing drugs and alcohol because they’re suffering from depression or poor self-esteem. Others engage in these destructive behaviors because many of their friends abuse substances, and they believe this is normal. Read on to learn the signs that indicate a teen may be abusing drugs.
Physical signs that a teen may be abusing drugs include bloodshot eyes or pupils that are either enlarged or smaller than normal. Another frequent sign of substance abuse are nose bleeds, which are often related to snorting drugs like cocaine. Changes in appetite, abnormal sleeping patterns and sudden weight loss or gain may also be signs that a teen is suffering from addiction. Furthermore, poor coordination, bruises and unusual smells on the breath, clothes or body may also be red flags. Finally, tremors and slurred speech are often associated with drug use.
Many behavioral issues in teens are related to substance abuse. For example, if a teen suddenly starts skipping class, receiving poor grades at school and getting into trouble, there may be more than rebellious habits at play. Additionally, a loss of interest in extracurricular activities or complaints from teachers may also signal to parents that their teen is abusing drugs. Some teens who abuse substances may begin stealing money, valuables and prescription drugs. Others become withdrawn, secretive and isolated. While clothing and music choices don’t automatically mean that a teen is abusing drugs or alcohol, she’s more likely to try substances if she wears items or listens to music that promotes this behavior. Teens who suddenly start locking doors, avoiding eye contact and change their group of friends may also be abusing drugs. Some will even try to hide drug and alcohol consumption by using incense or perfume to cover the smell of smoke and eye drops to treat bloodshot eyes.
While most teens go through changes in identity while growing up, sudden or drastic changes in personality may be caused by drug or alcohol abuse. For example, a teen who’s suddenly more irritable, quick to anger, laughs at nothing or easily agitated may be using drugs. Others may be far more hyperactive than usual and may be abusing stimulants, while those who suddenly space out may be abusing antidepressants. Teens who suddenly experience paranoia, fear or anxiety may be abusing substances, since many drugs trigger this sort of behavior.
Substance abuse is a serious health problem that could lead to issues with the law and even death. Teens are more at risk because of the common use of drugs and alcohol among adolescents. Often, these problems won’t go away on their own, and it’s necessary to get professional help. Professionals can help parents communicate with teens and get them the help they need to overcome substance abuse. Please call the hotline at 800-447-9081 to further answer the question of “What is substance abuse?” and learn how to get help.