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How to Identify the Signs of Substance Use in Adolescents and Teenagers

Teen drug abuse is a growing problem. In fact, 62 percent of teens in 12th grade have abused alcohol and 50 percent of teens have misused a drug at least once, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Even more startling, drug use increased in 8th-12th graders by 61 percent between 2016 and 2020. 

With so many teens experimenting with drugs, how can you identify if your child is struggling with substance abuse? 

In this brief article, our team with Tampa substance abuse rehab at Phoenix House Florida shares a few of the signs that your teen is using, and abusing, substances including drugs and alcohol.

Loss of Interest in Activities

One of the first, and often the most telling, signs of drug use in teens is the loss of interest in activities that they would normally care about. This can be the loss of interest in anything from sports they usually play to video games, creating art, or even just losing interest in spending time with family and friends. 

It’s easy to write off the loss of interest in usual activities as normal teen hormones or teen exhaustion. However, you might notice that the mention of these activities provokes an unusual response in your teen. For example, if your teen is abusing substances, it might have made it hard for them to focus or perform in their typical sports clubs, and mentioning this might make them more agitated than usual. 

While this is just one piece of a greater puzzle, it may be the red flag you can identify the easiest.

Isolation From Friendships

Next to losing interest in activities, you may notice that your teen is no longer interested in spending time with their friends. Additionally, you might notice that they are spending more time with new friends who you don’t yet know. 

Although making new friends doesn’t mean they are using substances, the seemingly quick loss or avoidance of friendships they have had for years is a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.

Talk to Other Adults in Their Lives

As the parent, you know your teen more than anyone else. However, you may be viewing your child with blinders on. It can be helpful to touch base with their teachers, counselors, and other adult family members with whom they frequently interact. This can help you understand if their behavior is normal or if it might be a sign of substance abuse.

If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse issues, help is available through substance abuse recovery in Tampa with Phoenix House Florida. Your teen will receive the support they need to cope with peer pressure, substance use, and stress that may be causing them to turn to substances.   

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, speak with a counselor with substance abuse recovery in Tampa through Phoenix House Florida. To schedule a consultation with Phoenix House Florida, please request an appointment today.


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 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.

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.