What to do if You Think Your Teen is on Drugs

Talk with your Kids

Suspecting your teen is on drugs could be a scary time. It is also a time where you might have a few questions and not know what to do next. Before you approach your teen, there are a few things you should do. If your teen is in fact addicted to drugs, they will not grow out of it. Your teen is suffering from a chronic disease and will need prompt treatment in order to get on the road to recovery. Listed below are some warning signs of teen drug abuse.

Warning Signs Of Teen Drug Abuse

Your teen could exhibit changes in mood. This could include your teen experiencing random mood swings. Your teen may become unusually vocal or loud. When they are feeling low, they feel at their lowest. When they are feeling high, they feel at their highest. You may notice that their mood and attitude seems pretty unstable, causing them to act erratically.

Your teen could begin showing signs of lacking in personal hygiene. You may notice your teen is not showering as frequently or may be wearing dirty laundry. Your teen may exclaim that they just do not have time to do the laundry or change their clothes. You may notice your teen’s dental health decreasing.

 Your teen could suddenly develop other health issues. Your teen may not have an appetite like they used to. They may also get more frequent headaches or have difficulty sleeping. You may notice extreme shifts in their weight, such as sudden loss or gain. Your teen may get sick more often than they used to or experience seizures.

Your teen could begin displaying changes in behavior. Your teen’s grades may start to slip and might be getting into more trouble at school. You may be getting calls from the school because your teen is skipping class or getting into arguments with students. Your teen may have suddenly lost interest in the hobbies they once enjoyed. The same friends that used to come around the house no longer do.


The signs above alone do not signal a substance abuse problem with one-hundred percent certainty. The above symptoms could be related to underlying mental health issues or a variety of other disorders. However, if you notice these symptoms you should make an appointment with your primary doctor and discuss all the options. If your teen is unwilling to make an appointment, the best course of action is to contact a treatment facility on behalf of your teen to receive proper guidance. The Arizona Addiction Recovery Center specializes in patients 18 and older.

Prepare To Take Action

The most important thing you can do as a parent or loved one of a teen who is suspected of abusing drugs is to take action immediately. The quicker the problem is addressed, the sooner the teen can get the help they deserve. You will want to take the necessary time you need in order to process what you and your teen are going through and what steps will need to be taken.

The conversation you have with your teen will lay down the framework for a positive outcome. When hosting an intervention, talk beforehand to your spouse or partner. You will want to make sure that whoever is involved in the intervention has the same goal in mind and will back each other up.

Gather All The Evidence

Some parents do not want to cross certain personal boundaries. However, this is important in some instances when it comes to the child’s wellbeing. If you suspect your child is abusing drugs, then you have the responsibility to further investigate in order to protect them and help them out of denial. Your teen may try to deny, out of fear or embarrassment, when presented with the evidence. However, allow them to plead their case. Calmly, explain why you feel the evidence correlates to their drug use and why this worries you as their parent. A teen that is abusing drugs may have:

  • dumped out over-the-counter pill bottles and replaced them with drugs.
  • stashed drugs in small boxes or candy bags.
  • put drugs or drug paraphernalia under their bed or under a floorboard.


Talk With Love

If you do decide to host an intervention, it is important to state how much you love the teen. But, it is also important to talk positively. Describe what makes you believe they are using drugs, but also reinforce that feeling of love that you have for them. Tell them your hopes for their future and how much they have accomplished this far. Your teen will likely try to deny his or her actions, either due to fear or shamefulness. Your teen could also be in full force denial. However, reinforcing the feelings of love will allow your teen to feel a sense of support.

Leave Judgement At The Door

Approach the situation from a place of understanding. Anyone can become a victim of addiction. Your teen needs you now more than ever. Saying judgmental comments or acting judgmental may turn your teen away from the conversation entirely, as they will feel attacked. Level with your teen. Steer away from the conversation if they start to get heated. You never want to begin yelling or degrading the teen for their behavior. All you need to do is state the facts and what you have found. If the conversation turns hostile, the best course of action is to remain calm.

Recognize The Faults Of Yourself Or Other Family Members

A teen will most likely lead with, especially if you are a recovering addict yourself, “you do bad things too!”. This is a common defense mechanism where the person at fault will push their bad attribute to someone else in order to remain in denial. This is when the parent should recognize that they may have done bad things as well, but that does not make what the teen is doing ‘right’.

The parent needs to explain that there will always be consequences for their actions, just as they faced consequences for theirs. The best thing to do is not to deny that addiction is in the family. Drug and alcohol abuse can happen to anyone. Describe how their genetic makeup makes them more at risk than their peers due to no fault of their own. If you are a recovering addict, talk about your life experiences and what led you to where you are today.

Lead Them To Recovery

At the end of your intervention, it is important that you direct the conversation towards seeking help. Your teen will not be able to battle addiction on their own. Addiction is a brain disease that needs to be treated as such. Professional help will guide your teen down the right path and help them manage their associated symptoms. The professionals at Arizona Addiction Recovery Center provide their patients with individualized plans that fit their unique needs. Call today to schedule a consultation and get help for your teen!