6 Signs That Your Child is Struggling with an Addiction

teen and alcohol

Drugs and addiction aren’t things any parent wants to think about. It would be so much easier if we could pretend the world is filled with an overabundance of sunshine and scattered rainbows.

But then we turn on the news and see another young soul taken from the world too soon. Heroin was his drug of choice, and it’s what ended his life. This wasn’t the first kid we lost to this drug war, and he won’t be the last.

We’re living in a scary time. Addiction grabs hold of people and doesn’t intend on letting go. That’s why it’s so important for us to look for the signs of addiction in our children. The sooner you spot a problem, the easier it will be to lead your child away from drugs.

This isn’t to say that addiction recovery is easy. It never is. But it does get progressively harder as you fall deeper into the depths of addiction. This is true for any substance of abuse, including alcohol. It’s tempting to turn a blind eye to alcohol abuse because we’ve all been there as teens, but alcoholism can be devastating for young adults. Keep close tabs on your kids to ensure they stay on the right path.

Look out for these 6 signs of addiction.


1.      Sudden behavioral changes

Teenagers can be moody by nature, but if your teen or pre-teen is suddenly having drastic mood swings out of nowhere, she may have a problem with addiction.

Talk to your child about her behavior to see if you can get some insight on the root issue. If she completely shuts you out, consider talking to her school counselor or teachers. She may feel more comfortable talking to them. Even if she shuts them out too, they can help you keep an eye on her behavior at school.

If you’ve tried everything and you’re still concerned, look for the remaining signs on this list. A child who is addicted may or may not exhibit all the signs, but if she is showing one or more, addiction is a likely answer.


2.      Depression

There is a strong link between depression and substance abuse. Depression may lead to substance abuse and substance abuse inevitably leads to depression.

If your child is showing signs of depression, especially with suicidal thoughts, talk to a counselor. It’s important to understand the scope of the problem and whether it has anything  to do with addiction.

Just because your child is depressed doesn’t mean he’s addicted. But it is a slippery slope from depression to addiction. Whatever you do, do not ignore the signs. You could very well save your child’s life.

Below are some of the common signs of depression:

·         Fatigue

·         Insomnia

·         Irritability

·         Feelings of worthlessness and helplessness

·         General loss of interest


3.      Social isolation

Sometimes this sign is easy to spot and other times it can be tricky. If your social butterfly suddenly prefers to spend a weekend locked in her room, there may be a problem. On the other hand, if your child has always preferred to be alone, it can be difficult to spot the signs of social isolation, and seeking group counseling can be a useful aide . Be on alert if your child stops doing things he would normally do. These things may include family outings or hanging out at a friend’s house.

If you notice this type of withdrawal, talk to your child to see what’s going on. Oftentimes, this behavior can be the result of an argument between friends, but it can also be a sign of addiction.


4.      Sudden drop in GPA

If your star student goes from honor roll to barely passing, you can bet something is going on. When grades drop suddenly, there’s always a reason. It could be a new hobby or boyfriend, but it could also be addiction.

Ask questions about what your child is doing with her spare time. Find out exactly what is standing in the way of her good grades. If you don’t get a reasonable answer, it’s time to suspect foul play.

Even a small yet consistent drop in grades could signal a problem. For example, if your child goes from all B’s to al C’s, it’s worth investigating.


5.      Skipping school

Skipping school is never a good thing, but it is often seen as a rite of passage. Most schools even have “senior skip days” where everyone claims their own unexcused absence.

But if you’re noticing a pattern of school ditching, you may have a problem on your hands. Find out why your son or daughter missed school and exactly where they went instead.

If your child is addicted, he or she will likely lie about their addiction and whereabouts. If this seems to be happening, consider counseling or periodic drug testing.


6.      Change in friendships

Most parents know their children’s friends, at least to an extent. So you’ll know if he or she starts hanging out with all new people. This does not necessarily signal a problem, but it can raise red flags in the right circumstances.

It would make sense for your child to gain a few friend group if he or she started a new activity or changed classes. But if you’re noticing a complete overhaul of your child’s friend group, pay close attention.

If your child has all new friends that don’t seem to have respect for authority, there may be an issue. Although it’s important to understand that any type of friend can be an addict, addiction can change a child’s behavior. Someone who is doing drugs isn’t likely to be comfortable around parents and other authority figures.

If your child’s friends seem to be a bad influence, addiction may play a role.

There are many signs of addiction, but short of catching your child in the act, none are certain. However, if you suspect that your child is using drugs, it’s important to seek help as soon as you can. At this point, you can truly change the course of your child’s life forever.