Signs of Teen Drug Use
Dr. Greg Allen, Ph.D., LMFT
Drug Testing Information
It is recommended that parents who suspect their teens are using drugs learn how to drug test their teens. This often serves as a necessary deterrent to the use of drugs. Drug testing also gives a teen a reason to refuse the use of drugs from their peers. Home kits can be purchased online or at drug stores… Some kits are effective and some are not.
How to Falsify a Drug Test:
There are many ways to attempt to falsify a drug test. Liquids, pills and powder can be taken in an attempt to alter a drug test. It is highly recommended that tests be given randomly and that they are observed!
A primary care physician can also do a drug test. However, this may not be an observed test.
The Drug Testing Center in Redondo Beach can do observed testing
Drug Test Information for effective kits
alcohol test strips – phone: 626-296-3575
Below is a brief list of things to watch out for regarding trying to falsify a drug test:
Drinking a large amount of water on the day of urine test.
Drinking a large amount of Cranberry juice, or all of a sudden starting to drink Cranberry Juice.
Detox Pills, usually purchased from Health Food/Vitamin Stores
“The Fix”, a liquid
Echinacea & Golden Seal
Receipts from Vitamin Stores
Make yourself aware of any and all pills your teen might be taking. The use of some of them might be to “clean the system”.
Signs & Symptoms of Teen Drinking and Drug Use
How can you tell if your child is using drugs or alcohol? It is difficult because changes in mood or attitudes, unusual temper outbursts, changes in sleeping habits and changes in hobbies or other interests are common in teens. What should you look for? You can also look for signs of depression, withdrawal, carelessness with grooming or hostility. Also ask yourself, is your child doing well in school, getting along with friends, taking part in sports or other activities?
These changes often signal that something harmful is going on—and often that involves alcohol or drugs. If you obtain a positive drug test, you may want to take your teen to the Thelma McMillen Center to receive a full assessment. Trained professionals can guide you as to best type of care for your teen. Generally, you want to be on the watch for signs so that you can spot trouble before it goes too far.
What is drug paraphernalia?
The term "drug paraphernalia" refers to any equipment that is used to produce, conceal and consume illicit drugs. It includes but is not limited to items such as bongs, roach clips, miniature spoons, and various types of pipes.
What do drug paraphernalia look like?
Identifying drug paraphernalia can be challenging because products often are marketed as though they were designed for legitimate purposes. Marijuana pipes and bongs, for example, frequently carry a misleading disclaimer indicating that they are intended to be used only with tobacco products.
Increasingly, bongs, pipes, and other paraphernalia are manufactured in bright, trendy colors and bear designs such as skulls, devils, dragons, and wizards. Manufacturers attempt to normalize drug use and make their products attractive to teenagers and young adults.
Laying Down the Rules – Tips for Parents
Parents, you are the first line of defense when it comes to your child’s drug use or drinking. And you do make a difference! Nearly two-thirds of teenagers see great risk of upsetting their parents or losing the respect of family and friends if they smoke marijuana or use other drugs.
There are some simple steps you can take to keep track of your child’s activities. Of course, your kids might not like you keeping tabs on where they are and what they’re doing. It won’t be a democracy, and it shouldn’t be, according to many parenting experts. In the end, it’s not pestering; it’s parenting!
Steps to take:
- Set rules. Let your teen know that drug and alcohol use is unacceptable and that these rules are set to keep him or her safe. Set limits with clear consequences for breaking them.
- Praise and reward good behavior for compliance and enforce consequences for non-compliance.
- Know where your teen is and what he or she will be doing during unsupervised time. Research shows that teens with unsupervised time are three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs. Unsupervised teens are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as underage drinking, sexual activity, and cigarette smoking than other teens. This is particularly important after school, in the evening hours, and also when school is out during the summer or holidays.
- Talk to your teen. While shopping or riding in the car, casually ask him how things are going at school, about his friends, what his plans are for the weekend, etc.
- Keep them busy — especially between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and into the evening hours. Engage your teen in after-school activities. Enroll your child in a supervised educational program or a sports league. Research shows that teens that are involved in constructive, adult-supervised activities are less likely to use drugs than other teens.
- Check on your teenager. Occasionally check in to see that your kids are where they say they’re going to be and that they are spending time with whom they say they are with.
- Establish a "core values statement" for your family. Consider developing a family mission statement that reflects your family’s core values. This might be discussed and created during a family meeting or over a weekend meal together. Talking about what they stand for is particularly important at a time when teens are pressured daily by external influences on issues like drugs, sex, violence, or vandalism. If there is no compass to guide your kids, the void will be filled by the strongest force.
- Spend time together as a family regularly and be involved in your kid's lives. Create a bond with your child. This builds up credit with your child so that when you have to set limits or enforce consequences, it’s less stressful.
- Take time to learn the facts about marijuana and underage drinking and talk to your teen about its harmful health, social, learning, and mental effects on young users. Visit the drug information area of TheAntiDrug.com
- Get to know your teen’s friends (and their parents) by inviting them over for dinner or talking with them at your teen’s soccer practice, dance rehearsal, or other activities.
- Stay in touch with the adult supervisors of your child (camp counselors, coaches, employers, and teachers) and have them inform you of any changes in your teen. Warning signs of drug use include distance from family and existing friends, hanging out with a new circle of friends, lack of interest in personal appearance, or changes in eating or sleeping habits.
Stress and Anxiety:
Teenagers experience stress every day and can benefit from learning stress management skills. School demands and social relationships are UNLIKE anything we as parents have ever imagined. Technology, blurred boundaries, academic expectations, and the daily bombardment of hyper sexualized media are just some of the stressors facing teens today. Most teens do not have the skills needed to cope with teen anxiety and these stressors. Unchecked stress can lead to anxiety, depression, aggression, physical illness, and drug and/or alcohol use. The Partnership for a Drug Free America states that 73% of teenagers reported that school stress was the primary reason for drug use.
Parents can help their teen in these ways:
Monitor if stress is affecting their teen’s health, behavior, thoughts, or feelings
Listen carefully to teens and watch for overloading
Learn and model stress management skills
Support involvement in sports and other pro-social activities
Teens can decrease stress with the following behaviors and techniques:
Exercise and eat regularly
Avoid excess caffeine intake which can increase feelings of anxiety and agitation
Avoid illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco
Learn relaxation exercises (abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques)
Develop assertiveness training skills. For example, state feelings in polite firm and not overly aggressive or passive ways: (“I feel angry when you yell at me” “Please stop yelling.”)
Rehearse and practice situations which cause stress. One example is taking a speech class if talking in front of a class makes you anxious
Learn practical coping skills. For example, break a large task into smaller, more attainable tasks
Decrease negative self talk: challenge negative thoughts about yourself with alternative neutral or positive thoughts. “My life will never get better” can be transformed into “My life will get better if I work at it and get some help”
Learn to feel good about doing a competent or “good enough” job rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others
Take a break from stressful situations. Activities like listening to music, talking to a friend, drawing, writing, or spending time with a pet can reduce stress
Build a network of friends who help you cope in a positive way
- Free Guide to Raising a Healthy Teen
Adolescence marks a time of rapid and intense emotional and physical changes. There is an increased value placed on peer acceptance and approval, and a heightened attention to external influences and social messages about cultural norms. Body image and related self-concept emerge as significant factors associated with health and well-being during this developmental phase, as youths begin to focus more on their physical appearance. How adolescents formulate and define their body image ideals and subsequent self-comparisons is strongly influenced by personal, familial, and cultural factors. Many adolescent girls believe physical appearance is a major part of their self-esteem and their body is a major sense of self (American Association of University Women, 1991). The experience of body dissatisfaction can lead to poor health habits and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may contribute to a higher prevalence of depression and lower self-esteem among girls (Siegel,et al., 1998) and can affect health behaviors associated with poor eating habits, dieting, depression and anxiety, and eating disorders.
This tip sheet offers advice about how you can improve your body image and make sure your children grow up with a positive body image, too:
Binge Eating Disorder: This fact sheet describes the symptoms, causes, complications, and treatment of binge eating disorder, and gives a profile of those at risk for the disorder:
Compulsive Exercise: This publication provides information on compulsive exercise, its warning signs, and the serious effects it can have on a teenager's health:
This Web page describes the psychosocial and medical consequences of eating disorders over the long term. It has information about what happens to the different functions of your body, and other conditions that people with eating disorders are likely to have:
This Web page describes the warning signs of various eating disorders and discusses how they are diagnosed. If you are worried about a friend or family member, this site can help you find out if certain behaviors could indicate an eating disorder:
This detailed booklet describes symptoms, causes, and treatments of eating disorders. It also includes information on getting help and coping:
When teens feel sad, distressed, or confused, the emotions might be so extreme that they lead some to harm themselves with self-injury (also called cutting, self-mutilation, or self-harm). Most teens who inflict injury on themselves do so because they are experiencing stress and anxiety, and/or because they were abused as children.
Burning, cutting, scratching, hitting/bruising, biting, picking at skin, and pulling out hair are some of the ways teens use self-injury to cope with intensely bad feelings. Sometimes teens injure themselves regularly, almost as if it were a ceremony. Other times, teens may injure themselves at the spur of the moment, as a way to find an immediate release for built-up tension. Self-injury is an unhealthy and dangerous act and can leave scars, both physically and emotionally.
http://www.drugabuse.gov The mission of NIDA is to lead the nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction.
www.drugfree.org parents can find a wealth of information, tools and opportunities to connect with other parents and caregivers who may have a child struggling with addiction.
Advice and Information. Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse Find out what to watch for and how to talk to your teen about using over-the-counter drugs responsibly.
www.samhsa.gov Includes links to community programs, information resources, events and articles
See Articles & Resources section of PVHS SOS website