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How can you tell if a teen is involved with drugs? There are no hard and fast rules, but there are warning signs of drug use. Although some surveys suggest that drug use in teens has decreased since 2001, the numbers are still quite high. Over 17% of high school students admit to use of illegal drugs within one month of when they were asked and more than 40% of those over 12 years old say that they have tried an illegal substance at least once.
The main thing to look out for is changes in behavior, attitude, appearance, friends, or activities. Keep in mind that many of the signs and symptoms listed below may also be caused by stress, depression, or other teen problems. Whatever the cause, they may warrant attention, especially if they persist or if they occur in a cluster. Consult your family doctor or a mental health professional if your child is experiencing these signs. Getting help early on can help teens to get back on track and develop more effective coping skills, often preventing further problems.
The key is change; it is important to watch for any significant changes in your child's physical appearance, personality, attitude, or behavior.
Parents who notice a shift from their child's normal patterns and behavior that cannot be attributed to the ordinary stresses of adolescence and changing level of independence should pay particular attention to their child's appearance, speech, and behavior. Their independence should not simply be allowed regardless of behavior, but should be dependent upon living up to certain basic expectations. If your teen now refuses to do chores, misses curfew regularly, creates a chaotic and hostile environment in the home, and frequently appears to be depressed, agitated, or "sleepy," you should investigate further. Maintain clear channels of communication and set clear boundaries and rules.
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