Teen Substance Abuse

Ask the Experts: How Can We Help Parents Prevent Teenage Substance Abuse (Part 1)


This is a guest post by Sue Scheff, an Author and Parent Advocate. She founded and created Parents’ Universal Resource Expert (P.U.R.E.) in 2001 and for a decade has been helping families with at-risk teens. In 2008, Health Communications, Inc (HCI) published her first book, Wit’s End! A Parent’s True Story, Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen.

Drug use (substance abuse) is a serious cry for help, and making your teen feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teenager is abusing drugs and alcohol are:

  • Violent outbursts, rage, disrespectful behavior
  • Poor or dropping grades
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions, track marks
  • Missing curfew, running away, truancy
  • Bloodshot eyes, distinct “skunky” odor on clothing and skin
  • Missing jewelry money
  • New friends
  • Depression, apathy, withdrawal
  • Reckless behavior