Addiction Health Parenting

Is My Teen An Addict? Signs of Teen Drug Addiction

What are the signs of drug addiction? Are you worried your teen may be addicted. Learn the signs of physical, behavioral and physiological drug addiction...

Signs of Teen Drug Addiction

by Dominica Applegate

As a parent, you want the best for your teens. You’re there for them, you provide for them, and you love them no matter what. The teen years can prove a bit of challenge for both the teen and the parent at times. What teen isn’t dealing with the common stresses of school and life? Trying to figure out who they are as young adults? Contending with peer pressure when it comes to alcohol and drugs? Drugs and alcohol are issues for many teens and it is important to know and recognize the signs of drug addiction. 

Teens experimenting with alcohol and drugs

The truth is that many teens experiment with alcohol and drugs, and along with experimenting, some become hooked, or addicted. Oftentimes, their intentions are just to try it and “have some fun” with their friends, but before they know it, their bodies have become addicted and it’s tough for them to stop. They may not feel safe to turn to their parents for help.

Yes, as parents we want the best for our teens and we also tend to worry, especially about alcohol and drug addiction. With the more than two million teens out there who are struggling with addiction[1], perhaps you are wondering if your teen is one of them. Have you been noticing certain signs that he or she may have fallen prey to addiction? Have others come to you with concern?

Today, let’s take some time to look at some of the tell-tale signs that your teen may be addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Physical Signs of Addiction

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Not being able to sleep well or sleeping more than normal
  • Frequent nosebleeds can be common for those snorting drugs
  • Smelling like alcohol or unusual smells on their clothing
  • Not willing to take care of their hygiene
  • Slurred speech
  • Having the “shakes”
  • Waking up with a hangover often (that they may not admit to, but lay in bed all day sick)
  • Having track marks on arms or legs
  • Wearing long sleeves to hide marks (especially in summer)
  • Burns on fingers or lips (from smoking drugs)
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Seizures

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

  • Withdrawing from family and sometimes friends
  • Acting sketchy, secretive, or suspicious
  • Grades declining at school. They used to care about their grades and now they don’t.
  • They get into more trouble at school
  • Aren’t interested in their hobbies very much anymore. Lack motivation to do what they used to do.
  • Steal money
  • Borrow a lot of money
  • More rebellious at home
  • Become very angry when asked about their behaviors
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Locking bedroom door all the time
  • Hanging out with teens that use drugs and/or drink
  • Using fragrance in bedroom to try to cover up smell. Incense is common.
  • Hiding alcohol, drugs, or paraphernalia in room, like pipes, butane lighters, bongs, rolling papers, aluminum foil, or makeshift drug devices
  • Rags or papers soaked with chemicals. This is a sign of inhaling vapors.
  • Reckless driving or accidents (see more here for a car accident lawyer)
  • Secretive phone calls
  • Sneaking out
  • Makes a lot of excuses
  • Unusually happy and full of energy randomly
  • Disappearing for a long time
  • Complaints from others about drug or alcohol use

Psychological Signs of Addiction

  • Acting like an entirely different person
  • Bad attitude, change in personality
  • Mood changes often
  • Looking “spaced out”
  • Paranoia
  • Severely depressed for no apparent reason
  • Complains of excruciating pain over a period of time in efforts to get pain pills.
  • Steal prescription pills from you or other family members

Granted, your son or daughter may or may not be addicted to drugs or alcohol and sometimes it’s really tough to know for sure. Of course, if your teen is displaying a lot of the signs above, he may indeed be addicted to something. The best course of action is to sit down and have a loving conversation with your teen about the subject. Let him know that you’re concerned about some behaviors that you see. Let him know that you would appreciate the truth, no matter what the truth is.

It’s important that your teen see that you are not coming at him with judgment. Your teen will most likely not admit to being addicted to alcohol or drugs, as he may not think he is. He may even refuse to admit that he drinks or drugs at all. This is common and can make it challenging for sure.

If your teen is struggling with addiction, know that there is help available for him or her and for you as Mom or Dad. Between support groups, 12 Step groups, counselors, and rehabs, there are  helpful resources to help break free from addiction.




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Dominica Applegate is an author and writer who is passionate about things like empowerment, self-love, and spiritual enlightenment. Her background is addiction and mental health, working 12 years in the field before launching her writing business.



About the author

Dominica Applegate

Dominica Applegate is an author and writer who is passionate about things like empowerment, self-love, and spiritual enlightenment. Her background is addiction and mental health, working 12 years in the field before launching her writing business.

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