When it comes to teen substance use disorder, it is vital that care providers know what to look for. We often think, “not my kid,” with this topic but we can’t always know all of the factors teens are experiencing in their peer groups. As we finally come out of a long stretch of lockdowns, quarantines, and isolation, teens are able to spend more time with each other which can mean more risks. As parents and caretakers, we know our kids better than anyone so there are some basic aspects of character development, disposition, and behavior that may inform whether a teen partakes in substances. When we know what to look for, we arm ourselves with the capacity for observation and support.


Teen substance use can come in many shapes and forms. We won’t delve too deeply into the actual substances, in particular. What we want to do is ensure our audience is informed and educated about what to look out for in their kids and clients. Our team here at SoCal Adolescent Wellness has decades of expertise when it comes to teen drug and alcohol use. Here are some tips.


Behavior Traits in Teens
Adolescence is a time of growth and establishing independence. But teens are still interdependent so it can be tricky to know when to jump in and actively observe and engage and when to step back. If teenagers have personality traits that demarcate a higher risk for addiction, be mindful of this. If they tend toward being very emotional or have sudden shifts in friendships these could be causes for concern. Kids may show signs of impulsivity, depression, anxiety, or stress. We can’t always recognize what might lead to substance use. 


Signs of Teen Substance Use
There are typically signs and symptoms of substance use in teens. Know what to look for. 
Here are some tips of what to look for:
  1. Teens may spend less time with parents or caregivers
  2. They may be secretive—locking doors, possessive of bags or backpacks
  3. Teenagers might start to miss commitments or blow off social engagements
  4. Sudden changes in personality or mood
  5. Changes in physical appearance such as bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, weight loss
  6. Teen drowsiness or excessive sleeping
  7. Drug paraphernalia 

If you notice two or more of these signs, it is best to seek professional help immediately. You are not alone in this and the family needs support during these situations. There are serious dangers when it comes to teens using drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, substance use disorder can be life threatening. This is very serious and requires skillful support. Do not hesitate to contact substance use disorder professionals if a teen is struggling with substances. It could be a matter of grave importance.

At SoCal Adolescent Wellness, we provide the professional expertise to teach families the skills of emotional awareness, self-regulation, behavioral modification practices, and fundamental mental health support tools. We connect the symptoms and experiences with evidenced-based therapeutic interventions as we develop unique treatment plans for teens and families. We guide clients to help them adjust and adapt to anything that life brings. We are here to help.