Tuesday, November 21, 2017 8:09

How To Tell If Your Depressed Teen Is Using Drugs

Posted by on Sunday, November 22, 2009, 11:44
This news item was posted in Childhood Disorders category and has 0 Comments so far.

It can be difficult to tell if a depressed adolescent is taking drugs, as many of the typical signs of problem drug use are similar to those of depression. Poor academic performance, memory and concentration difficulties and a change in appetite and eight are some of the signs that are similar.

The argument has been made that since many teens experiment with drugs and few go on to have serious drug problems, parents do not really nee to try to “catch” their children taking drugs. However, with a depressed teen, the consequences of drug use, especially alcohol, can be major, so parents who suspect that their depressed adolescent is taking drugs should seek help tight way.

The two most commonly abused drugs in adolescence, alcohol and nicotine, have the advantage from the parents’ point of view of being detectable by smell. Of course, many teens who smoke say they smell like smoke because their friends smoke and the smell gets on their clothes. If your teen comes in after you have gone to bed, you will be less likely to detect the smell of alcohol, as it will be out of his system by morning.

There are not very many physical signs of drug use. Your teen’s fingers may be stained from nicotine, eyes bloodshot from marijuana. Although there can be many causes of a chronic cough, like asthma, it may be associated with smoking. Similarly, a runny nose could be caused ny allergies or a cold that won’t let go, but it may also be caused by cocaine or heroine use.

Psychological changes in your teen may also be a sign of a drug use but are very non specific. They include loss of enjoyment in life and activities, withdrawal and irritability. Social changes might show an exaggeration of symptoms. If he was irritable before, he might become verbally abusive or even physically destructive. Mood swings may become much more pronounced. Periods of social withdrawal may become longer. Appetite changes that are a result of the depression may reverse when the teen starts taking drugs, so a teen who wasn’t eating may turn into one who is eating all the time. Any unexpected change, such as a depression getting worse while the teen is receiving adequate treatment, can also be a warning sign.

None of these signs are specific, but even if they are not associated with substance use,many of them are caused for concern. Your teen may not repsond honestly to a question about substance use, even if you ask in a non accusatory way, but it is still worth asking and talking abut the negative effects of drug and alcohol use during depression.

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