9 Warning Signs Your Teen May Be Abusing Prescription Drugs
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9 Warning Signs Your Teen May Be Abusing Prescription Drugs

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), prescription drug misuse and abuse are when someone takes a medication inappropriately (for example, without a prescription, or an amount that is more than prescribed). Prescription drug abuse has steadily been on the rise in recent years and sadly, prescription drug misuse and abuse among teens is a huge problem. And while prescription drug use among 12th graders has steadily and slowly dropped since 2015, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most commonly misused substances by Americans age 14 and older, after marijuana and alcohol (National Institute On Drug Abuse For Teens).

A common misperception, especially among teens, is that prescription drugs are safer or less harmful than other kinds of drugs. And prescription drugs can be easier to get than street drugs, making it an even higher risk of abuse among teens. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Prescription drugs most often abused include opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, and stimulants.”

Warning Signs of Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

The following signs aren’t always a definitive indicator of a drug abuse problem among your teen, but the more signs you notice, the more you should be concerned. 

  • Physical signs – Signs of prescription drug intoxication can include pinpoint pupils, drowsiness, and slurred speech. Sudden weight loss, some medications (particularly stimulant drugs) can reduce appetite and lead to sudden weight loss. Appearing to be high, unusually energetic or sedated are also common symptoms of drug misuse.
  • Change in appearance – A sudden disinterest in personal appearance or hygiene may be a warning sign of a more significant problem. 
  • Missing medications – Be aware of what medications you keep in your home and in what quantities. Be concerned if pills go missing or if prescriptions need refilling earlier than expected. 
  • Changes in social circles – Teens abusing drugs often abandon long-time friends for new friends who also abuse drugs.
  • Unexplained urgency for money – A drug habit gets expensive in a hurry, and so if your teen seems to go through a lot of money with very little to show for it, you may want to investigate further.
  • School grades and performance change – A sudden drop in grades or a lack of interest in school activities (sports) may be cause for concern.
  • Theft – Stealing or selling prescriptions, including stealing money or valuables from home or family members, are common behaviors when teens become addicted.
  • Mood changes – Be wary of excessive mood swings, secretive behavior, or hostility.
  • Changes in sleep – Watch for disruption in sleep or an increase or decrease in sleep.

Treatment for Addiction

If you suspect that your teen may have a prescription drug abuse problem, it’s time to get help. Safe detoxification from prescription drugs requires professional treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or substance use disorder and a mental health condition, get help today. Addiction can happen to anyone. Addiction makes you feel isolated, but you are not alone. Treatable is available and recovery is possible, start your new life today by contacting us today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.

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