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Five Signs Your Teen is Experimenting with Drugs

Illegal drug use remains a dangerous epidemic among this nation’s youth; with 5.9 percent of 12th graders using marijuana on a daily basis, 3.3 percent using LSD, 2.7 percent using cocaine, 2.6 percent using ecstasy, and 0.4 percent using heroin (). And despite widespread efforts and campaigns to educate kids about the dangers of drug abuse, teen experimenting with drugs remains a viable and very serious problem.

In addition, most people try drugs for the first time during their teen years; of the more than 2.8 million new users of illicit drugs in 2013, more than half were younger than 18 years of age.

As a parent, you can do your part to protect your child from the dangers and the devastating effects of drug abuse. And the first and most important tool you have in your arsenal is knowledge; the ability to recognize the behavior of a teen experimenting with drugs. So here are the five signs your teen is experimenting with drugs:

  1. Behavioral changes. Although teens in general are often known for their occasional mood swings and sensitivity, these behaviors can take on a whole new dimension when the teen is experimenting with drugs. They can, depending on their drug of choice, act in a mistrustful, excessively tense, paranoid, euphoric, dizzy, confused, or perpetually listless manner.
  2. Poor academic performance. A teen experimenting with drugs may experience a marked decrease in their academic performance. This is because drugs tend to hinder one’s memory and attentiveness, making it difficult for them to concentrate on their lessons and perform well on tests and quizzes.
  3. Shifting social circles. If you notice your teen hanging out with a new group of friends, staying out late with them and perhaps not revealing to you where they go or what they do in their company, then you might ask to meet them or—at the very least—start asking some tough questions.
  4. Changes in appearance. Teens dealing with drug issues sometimes alter their appearances in a rather dramatic fashion; either neglecting their hair and clothes to the point that they appear slovenly, or perhaps sporting a radical new haircut and/or tattoos and piercings. Now of course, the desire to get a tat or a nose ring does not equal a desire to use an illegal substance; just sometimes, though, the two go hand in hand.
  5. Changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Some drugs suppress hunger in teens, while others actually increase it; so you may want to monitor how much your teen is eating. Similarly, certain narcotics can cause drowsiness in the user, while others stimulate the system and can lead to insomnia.

Kokua Recovery can help

Kokua Recovery is an adolescent recovery program aimed to aid teens aged 13-17 struggling with addiction; with an emphasis on healing the trauma that caused the addiction. We specialize in treating addictions to a number of substances, like marijuana, hallucinogens, prescription drugs, and more.  Call 877-302-5022 to speak to a member of our admissions team. 

Ken Huey

Upon graduating from Purdue with a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy, Dr. Huey worked as a therapist, Clinical Director, and Business Development Director in residential treatment. Dr. Huey was always drawn to the large population of adoptees in residential treatment (he is adopted himself). He ultimately became convinced that this population needed specialty care and in November of 2006, Dr. Huey founded Calo. Calo grew to a 200 plus employee organization with about the same numbers of teen clients served each year. He sold Calo and retired in June of 2015. He came out of retirement in 2017 and founded Kokua Recovery, trauma-informed residential drug and alcohol treatment with sites in Colorado.

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