There is one notion you should be aware of as you read this article: Addiction can affect anyone at any age, no matter what social strata or types of personal pressure they endure. So, given this, it isn’t a wonder that having seen some changes in your teenaged boy or girl’s life, that you might ask yourself, “Is my teenager using drugs?”

For the fact is if your child has behavioral or withdrawal issues, or is doing poorly in school, you might have something much larger on your hands than high school angst or puberty.

While many surveys in the last two years cite either a decrease or leveling off of drug and alcohol use within the teen ranks, it still remains important for parents to be aware of their teenager’s well-being, or lack thereof.

One study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), shows a consistent drop among teens with many of the more common drugs as well as alcohol1. The drugs highlighted in the survey include marijuana, tobacco, and prescription painkillers.

This decline among teens, however, is of little comfort to a parent who feels their child might be using alcohol or drugs. If you suspect your teenager is involved in illicit drugs, no survey, television documentary, or any other type of anti-drug propaganda will be as effective as a parent intervening in what could be a serious issue, not only for their child but for the parent as well.

And though it might be difficult to do so, the sooner you intervene the better chance at recovery your child may have.

Consider the following if you believe your child may have problems with substance abuse.


There can be many red flags in your son or daughter’s behavior which can tip off drug usage. Are your child’s grades slipping? Have their friendships changed in some way? Consider the following traits2 provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that reflect behavior common among teens who were found to be using drugs and alcohol:

  • a change in peer group
  • carelessness with grooming
  • decline in academic performance
  • missing classes or skipping school
  • loss of interest in favorite activities
  • trouble in school or with the law
  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • deteriorating relationships with family members and friends

Keep in mind that as teenagers, their lives will change simply because they are still maturing. It’s the drastic, inexplicable behavioral and social changes that occur in a short amount of time that you want to be on the lookout for.


Drugs and alcohol can have a powerful effect on a young person’s brain especially during its developmental stages. For example, according to NIDA, drugs like methamphetamine can cause seizure3, stroke, and widespread brain damage which can leave lasting effects in a young person’s life as well as their adulthood. Other symptoms of drug use can include memory and attention loss as well as trouble with decision making.

NIDA lists the following drugs that can cause neurological trouble:


As a parent, you have to be proactive if you believe your son or daughter might be involved in drugs and alcohol. Sure, confronting your teen can be a very difficult endeavor, but it nonetheless has to be done.

What is also imperative is that you confront your teen in an understanding manner. Don’t be accusatory or judgmental. You should instead ask your teen if they are using, and if so, what influenced them to begin their addiction. Was it a friend? Was it something they saw on television or viewed online? At the very outset, you need to suggest to your teen that they stay clear of whomever or whatever might have encouraged them to at least experiment with drugs and alcohol.

Remember, confrontation is half the battle toward your child’s recovery. Denial or an attitude of letting your son or daughter’s drug use pass as if it were a phase can backfire and lead to increased drug use.


If your intervention with your teen about their drug and alcohol use has not led them to stop, it may be time to consider professional help.

Take your son or daughter to a doctor who can perform a drug screen. Drug screens comprise a series of questions, and can include a blood or urine test, which will determine the type of drugs your teen has been using.

If the results are positive, that physician may be able to refer you and your teen to a drug treatment specialist, which can give more specialized care to your teen.


Let’s face it, a parent detecting, then addressing their teen’s drug and alcohol use can be a very tough task. Your teen may feel objectified, and, if they are entered into an inpatient care center, abandoned. Try to assure them that their health is at stake, and that the reason for taking the actions you have, comes from love and caring as a parent.

Lead by love. Be understanding and patient with your teen as they recover. And when your child does return home, lead by example by limiting or even eliminating your own habits to show your solidarity with their recovery.

If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.



  1. New stats on drug, alcohol and tobacco use by teens. CBSNEWS.COM. Retrieved 2016.
  2.  What to Do If Your Teen or Young Adult Has a Problem with Drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved 2016.
  3. Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse: Neurological Effects. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved 2016.

Is My Teenager Using Drugs?