Signs to Look For If You Suspect Your Teen is Struggling With Addiction


Teenagers undergo so many changes that they can be unrecognizable from who they were as a child. Certain behaviors, moodiness, and a longing for independence can be part of the teenage experience. While they can be frustrating, it is a part of growing up and discovering who they are without their parents’ influence.

However, when bad behavior escalates, there may be more significant issues. Certain signs can be red flags for a slippery slope to real addiction if you suspect drug use.

When Your Teenager’s Personality and Behavior Should Raise Alarms

The teenage years are filled with confusing emotions, changing bodies, and pressure to excel academically and socially. This will inevitably change your baby into what should eventually become a fully functional adult. If all goes well, that transition will involve a teenager confident enough to rise to any challenge thrown at them.

As parenting and our understanding of mental health have evolved, what feels more common is a teenager with doubts, stress, and feelings of isolation from their peers. Some overcome these emotions, some turn inward, and others may fall into drugs in an attempt to cope and find acceptance.

Some signs that your teenager may be struggling include:

  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Missing school
  • Decline in grades

While these are tangible troubling signs, they can also result from budding mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Still, your child might require professional evaluation to get to the root cause.

If these behaviors escalate, it can point to a more severe issue such as substance abuse. Addiction is not only physically harmful, but the financial, behavioral, and social consequences are also readily apparent. Signs you cannot ignore are:

  • Full-on abandonment of long-time friends
  • Stealing
  • Frequently asking for money
  • Frequently missing curfew

If this is a sudden shift in behavior, that points to a sudden change in priorities at best and can be criminal at worst. Entirely abandoning a social circle without cause to venture into another circle that may not have your teen’s best interests in mind can have severe consequences.

Teenagers crave acceptance from anyone willing to give it, and doing drugs is an easy way to form a bond. Suddenly there is a reason to hang out with friends, and they have a new habit that will help them cope with stress. Their social circle is now filled with enablers, negative influences, and possible temptation into worse behavior. There can be an illusion of comradery, but there may now be pressure to stay out at all hours and obtain drugs and alcohol by any means possible.

Constantly needing money and doing anything possible to obtain it cannot be taken lightly. Substance abuse is a financial burden; every fix requires more and more, especially if the drug of choice has a tolerance level after a certain number of hits. Money creates a cruel feedback loop. Your teen will become stressed because they cannot afford drugs, driving up their need for drugs to relieve said stress. Enough pressure can cause desperation: asking anyone for money, taking out a seedy loan, or stealing it. Once they get the money and relief through the drug, the cycle starts again.

Who Can I Consult if My Teenager Is Struggling?

Observing worrying behavior in your teenager can be distressing for a parent. You may be hounded by feelings of failure and obsessing over hindsight. You cannot fall into shame and despair. We at Colorado Addictions Consulting are here to help!

If you believe your child is struggling but don’t understand why, our staff is waiting to be of service. Schedule an evaluation today to get answers and give your child the specialized care they need. Call 720-379-6590.