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Top Warning Signs Your Teen is Abusing Alcohol or Drugs

The problem with teen substance abuse is the teen often tries to conceal their symptoms and downplay their problems. If you as a parent are worried that your teen member might be abusing substances, look for the following warning signs.Teenage Couple Taking Drugs At Home

Physical warning signs of substance abuse

  • Bloodshot Eyes, Pupils Dilated
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
  • Low Self Esteem

Behavioral signs of substance abuse

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems. Borrow or steal to get it
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behavior
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)

Psychological warning signs of substance abuse

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or “spaced out”
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason

Warning signs of commonly abused substances


  • Glassy, red eyes
  • Loud talking
  • Inappropriate laughter followed by sleepiness
  • Loss of interest, motivation
  • Weight gain or loss


(including Xanax, Valium, GHB):

  • Contracted pupils
  • Drunk-like
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Clumsiness
  • Poor judgment
  • Slurred speech
  • Sleepiness


(including Amphetamines, Cocaine, Crystal Meth):

  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity
  • Euphoria
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive talking followed by depression or excessive sleeping at odd times
  • Long periods of time without eating or sleeping
  • Weight Loss
  • Dry mouth and nose


(Glue, aerosols, Vapors):

  • Watery eyes
  • Impaired vision, memory and thought
  • Secretions from the nose or rashes around the nose and mouth
  • Headaches and nausea
  • Appearance of intoxication
  • Poor muscle control
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Lots of cans/aerosols in the trash

Finally some of the warning signs listed above can also be signs of other problems.

Mr. Gary LaChapelle
Certified Reciprocal Alcohol and Drug Counselor

Midwest Academy, one of the countries top boarding schools, is a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens, boys and girls, ages 12-18. Providing Solutions for families, parents and teens since 2003. Available 24/7 Call Toll-Free Now 877-945.6777.

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