5 Warning Signs for Drug Addiction in Teens

“Something is not quite right.”  “I don’t know this person my child has become.”  “This seems like something besides normal teenaged rebellion.”  These are some of the things you might be saying to yourself if your teenager is abusing drugs.

Your teen might even be fully addicted to a variety of drugs, having hidden the signs for longer than you may know.  Keeping an eye out for some of the warning signs can help identify a drug problem, so you can find help for your child.

For more advice about teen addiction and rehab options, call 888-414-2380 (Who Answers?) .


Sometimes identifying addiction can be difficult, particularly during the tumultuous teen years.  Changes during adolescence are common.  However, extreme changes can be a warning sign that something is truly amiss.

Look for the following warning signs to determine if your teen may be in trouble with drug addiction:

  • Changes in personality or temperament
  • Moodiness
  • Secretiveness
  • Weight changes
  • Change in friends


Drug Addiction

Moodiness and secretiveness are common signs of teen drug addiction.

Most kids try cigarettes at some point.  However, research shows that kids who use tobacco are more likely to use other illicit drugs, as well.  In fact, kids who smoked were seven times more likely to have tried marijuana too.  Thus, addiction experts advise that tobacco use in teens may be an early warning sign that a teen is abusing other substances, or is at greater risk for alcohol or drug abuse.


There are many behaviors that can been viewed as significant warning signs in identifying drug addiction in your teen.  Often kids seem a shadow of their former selves, spending more time isolating from family and expressing general anger or moodiness.  Friends seem to change often, and your teen may not be as forthcoming about where they are going and who they are meeting.

While it is natural for teens to begin to spread their wings and exert independence, it is troubling when any of these behaviors occur in excess.

Mental Health Issues

When teens are engaging in substance use and abuse, it is more likely they may develop mental health concerns.  Mental health concerns can disrupt the inner workings of a family quickly.

If your kid seems to be cycling through bi-polar disorder, is suddenly seriously depressed, or acts unusually energetic and active, this can be a sign substance use disorder.  Working with a mental health professional, counselor or physician may be the best way to treat the mental illness while also checking for the presence of substance abuse and addiction.

Ask your child’s counselor to recommend a doctor or clinic who specializes in drug screening in addiction treatment while helping your child with their diagnosed mental health disorder.

Teen Drug Abuse Help: 5 Indispensable Benefits of Teen Drug Rehab

Physical Health

Another serious red light indicating drug addiction can be physical health challenges.  This can also be tricky in identification since some of these changes are natural during adolescence, but looking for extremes in the following areas of physical health can show drug use or addiction might be present:

  • Weight loss or weight gain in excess. Stimulant abuse can cause a rapid drop in weight, while depressants and opiates may result in significant weight gain.
  • Self-care issues. If your child has a sudden change in grooming habits, becoming less hygienic, this could indicate and issue with addiction.
  • Coughing. A chronic cough could indicate smoking tobacco, marijuana or other substances.
  • Lethargy. Drug abuse can result in teens being unmotivated, tired and lazy.  If your child spends more time sleeping and laying around than usual, this could be a warning sign too.


If you are concerned about your teen’s sudden change in personality, behavior, mental and/or physical health, help is available.  Talking with your family doctor or your child’s pediatrician may be a healthy first step in seeking help.

For teens with addiction or substance abuse issues, there are specialty rehabs that can help.  Putting your family back on the right track is the best gift you can give your teen and your family. For help finding an appropriate rehab center for you child, call 888-414-2380 (Who Answers?) .


Ali, S., Mouten, C., Jabeen, S., Ofoemezie, E., et. al. (2011). Early detection of illicit drug use in teenagers.  Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. 8(12): 24-28. Retrieved on March 22, 2017 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257983/

NIH (2016). What do you do if your teen or young adult has a problem with drugs? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved on March 22, 2017 from: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-teen-or-young-adult-has-problem-drugs

Parsons, T. & Brigham, K. (2000). Cigarette smoking:  Gateway to illegal drug use. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Retrieved on March 22, 2017 from:  http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2000/smoking-drugs.html