How do you know if your teen is abusing cough or cold medicines? Experts say the signs of teen drug abuse or misuse tend to be the same, regardless of the type of drug being abused, whether legal or illegal. Here are some signs of teen drug abuse to look for:
- Grades. Have your teen's grades or study habits declined? Sometimes, drug abuse can send a straight-A student to the verge of flunking out. Often, a sign of drug abuse is a slump that's not quite so dramatic. A teenager might become less diligent about handing in assignments, forget to study for tests, stop participating in class, or skip classes altogether.
- Friends. Has your teen stopped hanging around with usual friends? Have new faces – including some that might make you uneasy -- suddenly started to appear? Your teenager may abandon long-term friends, especially if they are not involved in the same abusive behavior.
- Mood. Have you noticed mood swings in your teen? Has your teenager become oddly manic, suddenly furious, sad, or listless? These can sometimes be a sign of drug abuse. You may notice that your teen also spends more time alone, away from family.
- Appearance. Has your teen's appearance changed significantly? You may notice that your teen has been wearing the same shirt for a few days, stopped showering regularly, or completely changed his or her style of clothing.
- Eating. Have you noticed any big changes in how your teen is eating, either more or less? You should not ignore any changes in weight.
- Sleep. Has your teen's sleep pattern changed? Depending on the drug being abused, he or she might suddenly seem to sleep all day – or never seem to sleep at all.
- Secretiveness. Has your teen become excessively secretive about after-school activities, or strangely anxious if you get anywhere near his or her belongings?
- Sickness. Does your teen frequently ask for cough or cold medicine? Obviously, you don’t want to dismiss signs that your child is sick with a cold or respiratory infection. But if your teen is always demanding medicine for a cough, it could be a sign of drug abuse.
- Hidden trash. Have you found empty bottles of medicine or empty packages in the trash? If your teen is buying cough medicine on his own, and using it without telling you, it could be a sign of drug abuse.
These signs don't prove your teen is abusing over-the-counter drugs; after all, mood swings, changes in sleep patterns, and secretiveness are a part of adolescence. But if you notice anything different about your child, it may be time for a talk. Read on to learn more about how to address the subject with him or her.