It should be no surprise to parents of teens that risk-taking behaviors are part of normal adolescent development. (Don’t get tired of us writing about that “adolescent brain”) However, one of the more common and perhaps among the more dangerous is the trial and use of illicit drugs.
We know that marijuana, as well as hashish (derived from marijuana), is the most commonly used drugs among adolescents. However, the illicit drug list among teens is a long one and their potential damaging effects is far greater because their brains are still developing. Moreover, we know that teens who use these drugs are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors such sexual promiscuity or finding themselves involved in delinquency and crime.
Adolescent drug use almost always hurts academic performance and usually affects relationships with family.
It is not uncommon to hear family express their concerns about their child becoming dishonest, distant, and in some cases violent.
It is easy for a parent to miss and/or excuse bad teen behaviors. However, we know that failure to address the warning signs will only allow for an escalation of the problem and often to a place where corrections are more problematic.
Parents, you should team up with professional as early as possible even if you are uncertain. It’s better to show your concern early. Here are some of the warning signs:
Wearing long sleeves in warm weather
Show lack of hygiene or concern for their appearance
Smell of a pungent odor
Frequent use mints, gum and/or eye drops
Avoids eye contact
Seems moody or withdrawn
Deceitful or secretive
Loads of excuses
Basically, if your teen has changed their behavior to a point where you simply question whether they are the same child you thought you knew, seek guidance.