Teenage substance abuse is something that many parents think of as a part of growing up. “It’s just a phase they are going through.” How many times have we heard that? Is it curiosity, simple experimentation, or is it to fit in with the crowd? Is it possible that it could be something more?

Factors that Contribute to The Problem

In many cases, teenage substance abuse is not just a phase. There are other factors that contribute to teenage substance abuse.

Some of these factors include but are not limited to:

  • Parental drug use or alcoholism
  • Lack of supervision by parents
  • Parents who think their child would never use substances
  • Teenager curiosity and experimentation
  • Stress or problems with school work and activities
  • Peer pressure among friends
  • Parents not taking interest in teen’s friends and activities

There are many other risk factors such as a family history of addiction as well as underlying issues the teen might be dealing with. Any of these factors can contribute to teenage substance abuse.

Signs of Teenage Substance Use

If you are a parent who suspects that your teen is using substances, there are some tell-tale signs that you should be aware of. Chances are that you will notice physical changes in your teen along with other signs of substance use.

Some of these signs of teenage substance abuse include:

  • Sudden changes in weight (either losing or gaining weight)
  • Pupils either larger or smaller than normal
  • Dry eyes
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Strange odors on clothing or breath
  • Sniffing or runny nose
  • A decrease in personal grooming
  • Slurred speech or poor coordination

You may also notice a change in your teen’s personality or attitude. They may display a lack of motivation or periods of high energy and nervousness. 

In addition to these signs of substance abuse, you may find drug paraphernalia in the teen’s room or hidden otherwise in the house. Drug paraphernalia can be items used to ingest the drug of choice such as lighters for smoking marijuana along with glass or metal pipes or bongs. It could be small mirrors, razor blades, and rolled-up dollar bills or straws used for snorting drugs. And of course, the worst would be items used for injecting drugs such as syringes, spoons, cotton balls, and a rubber cord.

How Easily can Substances of Abuse Be to Access in Your Home?

Do you have a liquor cabinet in your home? Do you have beer and wine in the refrigerator? And do you have prescription medications in a medicine cabinet in your home? If these answers are “yes,” all of these items can contribute to teenage substance abuse. Teens are known to sneak alcohol from the cabinet, beer from the fridge, and pills from the medicine cabinet.

If you have these substances in your home, you would be wise to keep them under lock and key. If you can’t do that, make sure you keep an inventory of the items so that you can tell if they are disappearing without your knowledge. 

Underage Drinking

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 

“Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States.”

Teens and young adults have a way of thinking that they are bulletproof. In other words, they think that bad things won’t happen to them. They always happen to others. However, this is not the reality of underage drinking or other substance abuse. 

There are many consequences to underage drinking as well as drinking at any age. A teen who abuses alcohol struggles with problems at school such as failing grades as well as social problems with other students. Underage drinking can cause such issues as driving under the influence and injuring innocent victims or worse. This, in turn, can lead to legal problems that can follow teens throughout their adult lives. 

Teens who abuse alcohol can face unwanted and unplanned sexual activity causing sexually transmitted diseases in addition to pregnancies. And of course, there is the risk of physical or sexual assault. The majority of teens who drink alcohol also participate in binge drinking (drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time) which can result in death from alcohol poisoning.

Professional Help for Teenage Substance Abuse

There is help for teens struggling with substance abuse issues. Contact New Beginnings Recovery to learn about treatment programs designed to fit each individual client’s needs and preferences. We can design a program for your teen’s needs that will get them back on the right path to becoming a productive and responsible young adult. Make that call today!


  • cdc.govUnderage Drinking
  • cdc.govDiseases and Related Conditions