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Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse - Is Your Teen Using Alcohol or Drugs?

Sometimes it's hard to tell if your teen is using alcohol or drugs. Parents may worry that their teens are involved with drugs or alcohol if they become withdrawn or negative. But these behaviors are common for teens going through challenging times.

It's important not to accuse your teen unfairly. Try to find out why your teen's behavior has changed. Tell him or her that you are concerned.

Experts recommend that parents look for a pattern or a number of changes in appearance, behavior, and attitude, not just one or two of the changes listed here.

Change in appearance

  • Less attention paid to dressing and grooming
  • Loss of appetite or unexplained weight loss
  • Red and glassy eyes and frequent use of eyedrops and breath mints

Change in behavior

  • Decreased attendance and performance at school
  • Loss of interest in school, sports, or other activities
  • Newly developed secrecy, or deceptive or sneaky behavior
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • New friends and reluctance to introduce them
  • Lying or stealing

Change in attitude

  • Disrespectful behavior
  • A mood or attitude that is getting worse
  • Lack of concern about the future

Taking action

Any use of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs in childhood or the teen years is a problem, unless it turns out to be a one-time event. If you suspect or see signs that your teen is using substances, check it out. Don't wait for it to become a big problem.

A home drug screening test provides immediate, early information about whether a urine sample contains drugs such as amphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. But it does not show which drug has been used, and some tests are inaccurate.

actionset.gif Substance Abuse: Dealing With Teen Substance Use.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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