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Warning Signs of Teenage Substance Abuse You Can’t Ignore [Infographic]

Blog » Addiction » Warning Signs of Teenage Substance Abuse You Can’t Ignore [Infographic]

August 29, 2016



The teenage years are often a time of experimentation when it comes to music, clothing and hairstyles. Unfortunately, many teens also experiment with substance abuse. Knowing the warning signs of teenage substance abuse can make it easier to take action.

Changes in Grades or Study Behaviors

One of the biggest signs of teen substance abuse is a decrease in academic performance. Using drugs or alcohol can have significant cognitive impact, making it harder to study or do well on exams. For instance, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heavy marijuana use as a teen and continued into adulthood can drop your IQ up to eight points.

Changes in Appearance

Teenagers may change their appearance regularly, and that won’t necessarily indicate substance abuse. However, with the U.S. Department of Justice estimating that 3.2 % of teens have injected an illegal drug at some point in their lifetime, it’s important to be aware of certain warning signs. Three to consider are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Long sleeves to cover needle marks

Sudden Stealing or Other Acts of Criminal Behavioral

One sign of teenage substance abuse can be sudden acts of criminal behavior, such as theft or trespassing. Because drugs and alcohol can be relatively expensive, teens may resort to stealing money. Because drugs and alcohol have a direct impact on behavior, teens under the influence may commit a higher rate of crime. The National Criminal Justice Reference Service found that 39% of juvenile delinquents were under the influence of drugs when they committed their offense.

Belief That Substance Abuse is Harmless

Even if teens don’t openly admit to substance abuse, they might have a dismissive attitude about the illegality of drugs or the criminalization of certain substances. This dangerous belief system can be indicative of personal substance abuse problems. It’s important to remind teens with this attitude that substance abuse has consequences. Every year in the United States alone, the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that more than 68,000 people die from drug overdoses.

Uptick in Health Problems or Accidents

There is a strong correlation between teenage visits to the emergency room and substance abuse. Drug or alcohol use can cause accidents, injuries, and serious health conditions. One survey from the National Criminal Justice Reference System found a 50% increase in hospital visits among teens who are heavy marijuana usersParents who spot signs of teenage substance abuse should seek help immediately. Call 866-704-7692 to learn more about Lakeview Health in Jacksonville, Florida. Help your teen today. Early intervention can help them live full, healthy lives.

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