Article | March 2018

Drinking, Drugs, and Teens

Is your teen using drugs?

If you have teenagers, you've probably thought about alcohol and drugs. Some parents believe it's less dangerous for their kids to drink alcohol. The truth is, alcohol is a drug. And it's a popular drug among teenagers. Educate yourself so you can help your teen make smart choices and decisions.

Why do teens use drugs?

Teenagers use drugs for many reasons. They often feel pressure to fit in with their peers. It may seem like everyone else is doing it. Adolescence is a confusing time. Some teens use drugs to escape from their emotions or feel more confident. And teens' first ideas about drugs often come from what they see at home. How can parents help prevent teenage substance use disorder? Provide kids with plenty of love and honest, open communication. Parents should express calm, consistent standards about drug and alcohol use.

Is your teen using?

Wondering if your teen might be using drugs? Check out these common signs of drug or alcohol abuse:

  • Discipline problems, arguing, lying, stealing, or being irresponsible
  • Isolation, secrecy, and less involvement in family activities
  • New interests or friends, especially older friends
  • Bad grades or poor school attendance
  • Hyperactivity, drowsiness, or forgetfulness
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Change in speaking patterns
  • Weight gain or loss; junk-food cravings
  • Bloodshot eyes, use of eyedrops or incense, runny nose, or coughing
  • Odd, small containers in pockets or purse
  • Money problems
  • Alcohol, drugs, or possessions disappearing from the house
  • Drug paraphernalia, such as pipes, papers, and razor blades
  • Needle marks
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations or delusions

What can you do?

Worried that your teenager has a drug or drinking problem? Take these steps:

  • Learn more about alcohol, other drugs and dependency.
  • Find out about drug treatment programs available to your teen and family.
  • Choose a time when you can remain calm, and your teen is sober. Talk calmly and honestly about the changes you see. Discuss the harmful effects of substance use. And talk about seeking treatment together.
  • Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat well and exercise.
  • Talk with other parents and join a support group.
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This material is provided by Cigna for informational/educational purposes only. It is not medical/clinical advice. Only a health care provider can make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment plan. For more information about your behavioral health benefits, you can call the member services or behavioral health telephone number listed on your health care ID card.