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5 Key Signs of Teen Substance Abuse

Substance abuse, be it alcohol or drugs, exerts a tremendous toll on individuals, families and communities. Teen substance abuse in particular has the ability to change a young person’s life in ways that affect him or her for years to come. For these reasons, it’s important to be able to spot signs of teen substance abuse in your child to help ensure he or she has the best chance at a healthy, happy life.

Teen Substance Abuse Trends

According to the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, alcohol ranks as the most commonly abused substance among teenagers with an estimated 39 percent of high school seniors reporting having tried alcohol in 2014. Marijuana ranks second with 23 percent of teens reporting use followed by prescription drugs, aerosols and glues, with an estimated 50 percent of high school seniors having used.

Ultimately, a teen’s ability to access any one substance has a considerable bearing on teen substance abuse rates.

Call our helpline at 800-481-6320 to see if your insurance will help pay your teen’s rehab costs.

5 Signs of Teen Substance Abuse

1. Social Withdrawal

Teen Substance Abuse

Social withdrawal is a sign of teen substance abuse.

Addictive substances work by altering the brain’s chemical makeup in such a way as to create an ever-increasing state of dependency on the drug’s effect. In the case of teen substance abuse, the effects of alcohol and drugs tend to take on greater importance in a teen’s life over time. After a certain point, he or she may start to choose drug use over spending time with friends and loved ones.

2. Personality Changes

According to the Journal of Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, young people engaging in teen substance abuse will likely exhibit noticeable changes in personality as the drug’s effects interfere with the thinking and emotion-based centers of the brain. This may come across as drastic mood swings, extreme irritability and/or lethargy.

3. Change in Social Group

As drugs take on greater importance in a teen’s life, he or she will start to gravitate towards peers who share a similar interest in drugs. Your teen’s regular hangout locales will likely also change along with changes in his or her social circle. Considering how teen substance abuse practices tend to wear away at a young person’s sense of right and wrong, bad behaviors, such as lying and ignoring curfew rules may happen more often than usual.

4. Decline in School Performance

The effects of teen substance abuse do considerable harm to the areas of the brain that regulating thinking, reasoning and learning. Teens engaged substance abuse also tend to lose interest in doing well in school due to the increasing importance drugs take on in their lives.

Teen Drug Abuse Risks and When to Consider Getting Rehab Help

5. Delinquency Issues

After so many months or years of teen substance abuse, it’s not uncommon for teenagers to engage in delinquent-type behaviors, whether out of boredom or in an attempt to get money for drugs. In effect, the effects of drugs have warped a young person’s overall psychological makeup to the point where his or her priorities, morals and overall character have undergone considerable decline.


When left untreated, teen substance abuse behaviors can all but destroy a young person’s life within a fairly short period of time. If you suspect your teen is engaging in drug or alcohol abuse, the sooner he or she gets needed treatment help the easier it will be to get back on track.

If you have further questions about teen substance abuse, or need help finding treatment that meet’s your teen’s needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6320 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.

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