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3 Signs Your Teen May Be Using Substances

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a survey conducted in April revealed that more than 40% of 18 year olds reported experiencing at least two symptoms of substance use disorders. At this alarming rate, it is time to stop making assumptions your child could never be impacted by drug use. 

As a parent, you do everything in your power to protect your child. But unfortunately, many things are still outside of your control, including peer pressure and external stressors; both of which are cited as top reasons why adolescents and teens begin using substances to cope. For this reason, paying attention and truly listening to your child can be the difference between catching the start of a dependency early and getting the help your child needs, or becoming part of a statistic. 

As a treatment center in Tampa, FL that offers substance use treatment to adolescents, teens, and young adults, Phoenix House Florida has put together a list of signs to watch for in your teen, to help you identify if they are struggling with substance use. If you notice these signs, it may be time to seek out options to help with substance abuse recovery in Tampa for your teen.


1) Mood Swings 

You expect your teen to experience mood swings as hormones change and they are learning to cope with the world around them. However, mood swings that seem more severe, are happening more frequently, and are coupled with any other items on this list may indicate something further. Drugs and alcohol are mood-altering substances, meaning if your child is using them, they will experience significant mood and behavior changes.

Mood swings caused by substances may mimic symptoms of mental health disorders. Regardless of the cause of the mood swings, it is worth having a conversation with your teen to make sure they get the help they need. 


2) Physical Changes 

Substances can often alter how someone appears, through sudden weight loss or gain, watery eyes, or full body shakes. While these may be easier to notice, getting to the point where these symptoms are present may indicate a more significant substance use problem overall. 

Less noticeable changes may include pupils larger or smaller than usual, wearing long sleeves or pants even in warm weather to hide marks on the body indicative of drug use, or a frequent runny nose or nose bleeds. 

Observing when your child’s physical appearance changes can be an incredibly impactful first line of defense for catching substance use.


3) Loss of Interest in Favorite Activities

It may be normal for a developing teen to change their mind on where their interests lie; however, a complete loss of interest in previous favorite activities and lack of interest in exploring new ones may be an indication of a substance use problem. 

Determining if it is typical teen behavior as they are finding their own or a more significant problem indicating a general disinterest in the day-to-day routine will be imperative in getting the help your child may need. 

It is never too early to intervene, and having open and honest lines of communication will only be able to help you understand what your child is going through and get them the help they need. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, contact Phoenix House Florida, a substance abuse treatment center in Tampa, FL.To schedule a consultation with Phoenix House Florida, please request an appointment today. You can also give us a call at (813) 957-9639, option #1 or email our admissions team at


Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for general educational purposes only. All content and media on the Phoenix House Florida website does not constitute professional medical advice nor is the information intended to replace the services provided by Phoenix House Florida or other qualified medical professionals. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

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At Phoenix House Florida, we have a passion for healing. If you or your loved one are in need of subtance use treatment, we are here to help. Give us a call or submit our appointment request form today.

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How Can We Help?

At Our House

For some patients, stepping away from the buzz of everyday life is the only way to make a full recovery. Inpatient treatments help patients refocus their recovery efforts to achieve positive, long-lasting outcomes.

The Derek Jeter Center

The Derek Jeter Center Adolescent program in Brandon, FL provides comprehensive outpatient services that help families deal with teen substance use and related mental health conditions.

At Your House

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. Outpatient treatment must follow a continuum of care that starts with a thorough needs assessment and ends with recovery monitoring.