7 Signs Your Teen Might Be Abusing Prescription Drugs

Written by on November 1, 2012 in Family - No comments | Print this page


Over the past decade, the abuse rate among teens for prescription drugs has risen significantly. While there is an increased awareness among parents, there are still many who are having difficulties recognizing that their teenager is abusing prescription pain killers. If you have any suspicion that your teen is engaging in these dangerous behaviors, here are seven key signs you should look for to determine whether your teen might be abusing.

Change in sleep habits

Sleep is crucial for teenagers, especially those with very active schedules. When teenagers show difficulty sleeping or have crazy sleep schedules, it’s easy to overlook. However something that should be known is that users who are addicted to prescription drugs are known to have unusual sleep schedules. Depending on the medication, some can cause you to be awake for days and end in marathon slumbers. Watch out for any extreme changes in sleeping habits in your teen.

Change in interests or activities

If your child once enjoyed something, especially during their teenage years, and all of the sudden have no interest in it, this could be a sign that your child is becoming addicted to prescription drugs. This indicates a problem especially if an activity is dropped, but not replaced with another activity. Be aware of any changes in regards to their extra curricular activities and their involvement in them.

Change in personal hygiene and appearance

When you’re a teenager, going to school is typically like being in a fashion show. Most teenagers feel the need to try to make themselves look their best and dress to impress every single day. With this being the case, when your teenager shows a significant change in their appearance or how they take care of their hygiene, it’s definitely reason to be concerned.

Change in mood/personality

Teens’ moods are unpredictable, and it’s generally hard for parents to determine whether their children are being dramatic or are just in a bad mood. As a parent, if you recognize a dramatic change in your teenagers attitude and mood, this could be a reason for investigation.

Sudden change in grades

Grades are an important indication of possible problems in your teenagers life. Whether they’re having difficulty with a teacher or relationship problems with their significant other, grades can suffer due to a variety of things. Don’t just assume immediately that because their grades are changing that they’re using drugs. Monitor their activity and use it as a reason to keep an eye out for other signs of change.

Change of friends

Friends in high school tend to have falling outs or develop even stronger relationships. If you notice that your teenagers friends are changing rapidly and their new group is significantly different than their older long time friends, parents should definitely be on alert. Keep in mind that teens often abandon their friends for new ones who also abuse drugs to avoid judgement.

Sudden weight loss

During high school, it’s typical for teenagers to fluctuate in their weight, especially if they play sports and have off seasons. When a teenager has a dramatic weight loss, this should be reason to be concerned. Be aware that some medications can help to reduce appetite and therefore leads to very sudden and very rapid weight loss.

All of these signs are strong indications of what your teenager could show if they are abusing prescription pain killers. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to pay attention to your child on a daily basis. Talk to them and show interest in their daily activities. By doing this, you’ll be better prepared and aware when they do make sudden changes in appearance or behavior. Teenagers are always changing, but by following the signs above, you’ll be able to decipher between typical teenager behavior and dangerous behavior.

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This is a guest post.  Jessica Tanning is a freelance writer focusing on addictions. This topic hits close to home for her since she’s had a family member struggling with addiction for over 10 years at Delray Recovery Center.


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