Many teens try alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. Some teens try these substances only a few times and stop. Others can't control their urges or cravings for them. This issubstance abuse.Teens may try a number of substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, household chemicals (inhalants), prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and illegal drugs. Teens use alcohol more than any other substance. Marijuana is the illegal drug that teens use most often.

Teens may use a substance for many reasons. They may do it because

  • They want to fit in with friends or certain groups.
  • They like the way it makes them feel.
  • They believe it makes them more grown up.

Teens tend to try new things and take risks, so they may take drugs or drink alcohol because it seems exciting.

Teens with family members who have problems with alcohol or other drugs are more likely to have serious substance abuse problems. Also, teens who feel that they are not connected to or valued by their parents are at greater risk. Teens with poor self-esteem or emotional or mental health problems, such as depression, also are at increased risk.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ( WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise)

  • Frequently forgetting homework.
  • Missing classes or skipping school.
  • Disinterest in school or school activities.
  • A drop in grades.
  • Lack of energy and motivation.
  • Red eyes and cheeks or difficulty focusing - alcohol use.
  • Red eyes and constricted pupils - marijuana use.
  • A strange burn on your child’s mouth or fingers – smoking something (possibly heroin) through a metal or glass pipe.
  • Chronic nosebleeds – cocaine abuse.
  • Lack of interest in clothing, grooming, or appearance is not normal. Teenagers are usually very concerned about how they look.
  • Teenagers enjoy privacy, but be aware of excessive attempts to hide.
  • Exaggerated efforts not to allow family members into their rooms.
  • Not letting you know where they go with friends, or whom they go with.
  • Changes in relationships with family.   
  • No longer is friends with childhood friends.
  • Seems interested in hanging out with older kids.
  • Acts secretive about spending time with new friends.
  • Sudden requests for money without a good reason.
  • Money stolen from your wallet or from safe places at home.
  • Items gone from your home. (May be sold to buy drugs.)
  • Odor of marijuana, cigarettes, or alcohol on teen’s breath, on clothing, or in the car.
  • Drug paraphernalia: finding items in your child’s room, backpack, or car related to drug use.