It has been widely reported in recent years that prescription drug abuse among teens is on the rise. Where in the past, teens who acknowledged using substances would most often name marijuana and alcohol as things they had tried, today it’s much more common to see prescription drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, and Xanax on the list. As we tell people at our Sacramento rehab, this is a trend that we all need to be aware of. Everyone in a teen’s sphere of influence needs to be ready to take action as needed.
The Challenge of Detecting Substance Abuse
Prescription drug abuse among teens can be especially hard for parents to spot. Unlike marijuana and alcohol, which have telltale odors, these drugs do not. And because mood swings and odd behaviors tend to be common even in adolescents who aren’t involved in substance abuse, people often overlook them.
However, there are signs parents and other loved ones can and should be looking for in teens, especially if they begin to suspect the child may be experimenting with prescription drugs. They include:
- Severe mood swings. The key here is “severe.” As noted, changes in mood are common in teens. But when the difference in their demeanor becomes dramatic, that’s a red flag.
- Significant changes in sleep habits. Here again, teens tend to have odd sleeping patterns to begin with. But when noticeable changes begin to appear, this can be a sign of substance abuse. If a child is very difficult to wake up and/or appears pale and cold, this is especially concerning.
- Physical or mental changes. Things like sudden weight loss, extreme anxiety, manic episodes, and memory loss can occur with prescription drug abuse.
- A sudden shift in friends. Abandoning long-time friends for a totally new group can be a sign that a teen is looking to associate with a crowd that is involved in substance abuse.
- Decreased interest in favorite activities. Teens do “grow out of” certain activities that used to interest them. But when there disinterest is sudden and pronounced, parents should take note.
- Self-harm. The same pressures that may drive a teen to abuse prescription drugs may also cause them to cut, scratch, or otherwise injure themselves in an attempt to self-sooth.
Conversation is a Great Starting Point
At our Sacramento detox rehab, we stress that dialogue can be key when it comes to intervening in a teen’s prescription drug abuse. We encourage parents and loved ones to be open, honest, and direct in discussing the issue. If you’ve got questions about how our programs and services can help, give us a call.