How to Spot Prescription Drug Abuse in Your Teen

Teen Drug AbuseDrug abuse among teenagers has been a problem for many decades, however the use and abuse of prescription drugs by school-aged children as young as the 8th grade is becoming of greater concern in recent years. The most important tool in the fight against teen drug addiction comes from a society willing to recognize the signs of abuse and addiction.

Types of Prescription Drugs Popular for Abuse by Teens

When many parents think of drugs and teenagers, they may think of marijuana or even harder drugs like heroin or cocaine. However, prescription drugs, in part because of the ease with which teens can obtain them, are a more likely alternative. Teens generally have easy access to:

  • Stimulants for ADHD/ADD or other stimulants
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Pain medication such as Vicodin, Lortab and other opiates
  • Depressants such as Valium or Xanax

Many of these drugs sit innocently in a family medicine cabinet and create a huge temptation for teens looking to fit in with their peers or seek relief from the stress of school or family problems.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse

Being moody and operating under the influence of mood swings is every teenager’s right. Hormones are raging and the process of growing up can be confusing and stressful. However, these mood swings can also be a sign of prescription drug abuse and addiction, so it is important to take circumstances and normal behavior patterns into consideration.

The physical symptoms of drug use and abuse can include the following:

  • Redness of the eyes
  • Lethargy and drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Inability to speak or slurring of words
  • Depressed breathing
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impaired memory
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

The type of symptoms depends upon the types of drugs ingested. For instance, abuse of opiates can cause constipation, drowsiness and slowed breathing. Stimulant use, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can cause irritability, hyperactivity and nervousness. Taking in context with the psychological symptoms of drug abuse, and you may want to consult your doctor and arrange to have your teen checked for the use and abuse of drugs.

Emotional Symptoms of Drug Abuse

When a teenager experiences the effects of drug abuse, they will most likely suffer the non-physical effects of that use. These lifestyle changes are not life-threatening. They may indicate problems not associated with drug use, however, if they occur in conjunction with any of the physical symptoms mentioned, it may be a good idea to find out, one way or the other, if your child is using drugs.

Lifestyle changes may include:

  • Slipping grades in classes they have previously enjoyed and passed
  • New group of friends and a reluctance to let you meet them or get to know them
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Lack of interest in hobbies that previously enthralled them
  • Disobedience such as breaking curfew and not following well-established rules.

Teens who are addicted to or use prescription drugs will obtain these drugs from their own homes first. A huge red flag concerning the use and abuse of prescription drugs by your teenager can be found in your own medicine cabinet. If there are missing prescriptions, do not assume you have misplaced them. Watch carefully and confront your teen if you suspect any misuse of prescription drugs.