I remember when he was five and his biggest concern was getting the latest dinosaur toy. Now Josh is 15, and he’s just so different lately. I don’t expect him to be five anymore, but the changes I’m seeing…I’m concerned. He’s lost interest in soccer, started hanging out with a new crowd, and he’s just …
5 Warning Signs Your Teenager is Abusing Opioids
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I remember when he was five and his biggest concern was getting the latest dinosaur toy. Now Josh is 15, and he’s just so different lately.
I don’t expect him to be five anymore, but the changes I’m seeing…I’m concerned. He’s lost interest in soccer, started hanging out with a new crowd, and he’s just so moody. Is this normal teen trouble, or should I be worried about drug abuse?
This mom is rightfully concerned. If there’s one thing we all know is true, it’s that the teen years typically involve some moodiness and unpredictable behavior. After all, these kids are a cocktail of hormones, and they’re trying to figure out their place in the world.
But still, there are some behaviors that go beyond the norm. And these behaviors could indicate opioid abuse.
Signs Your Teenager is Abusing Opioids
Be on the lookout for the following warning signs:
- Severe Mood Swings
Teenagers whose moods and personalities change suddenly and drastically are potentially under the influence of opioid abuse. These mood swings are more severe than your typical teenage drama. If your teen is abusing opioids, he might become depressed and withdrawn or angry and hostile (or all of the above). He may even get violent or threaten other family members.
- Loss of Interest
Teens who become addicted to opioids may lose interest in the things that used to bring pleasure. School, sports, friends, work, and other interests can quickly fall by the wayside. He may lack motivation to fulfill obligations and start to withdraw from extracurricular and other social activities. Grades may drop. If your teen has become apathetic and unmotivated – and there is no other clear reason for the abrupt change – it could indicate your child is struggling with opioid abuse.
- Physical Changes
Opioid abuse takes its toll on the body. Physical symptoms can include constricted pupils, constipation, flushed cheeks, and slowed breathing. Your teen may also experience drowsiness or sudden bursts of energetic euphoria. You may also notice a lack of energy and poor eating habits.
If your teen is abusing opioids, he may experience withdrawal when unable to get his hands on a drug of choice. Opioid withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, headache, diarrhea, insomnia, body aches, and anxiety.
Opioid abuse can also affect your teen’s appearance. No matter their age, people who are addicted to opioids eventually tend to neglect their appearance. They may care less about bathing and brushing their teeth; many wear the same dirty or wrinkled clothes for days on end.
- A Group of New “Friends”
Teen social circles change on a dime. But if your teen starts to hang out with a new crowd for no apparent reason, it might be due to drug use. Keep in mind that this shift in relationships can happen gradually or suddenly. He may let old friendships die off as they drift toward other teens using the same drugs. Or, he might make a drastic shift into a whole new friend circle. Either way, this could be a warning sign that he’s mixed up in the drug scene.
- Opioid Drug Paraphernalia
If you find drug-related items in your teen’s possession or in his room, this is an obvious red flag. Opioid paraphernalia may include needles, lighters, pipes, and, of course, the actual drugs. If your teen isn’t abusing the drugs, he definitely knows someone who is. It’s highly unlikely he’s just the innocent bystander holding someone else’s supplies, but isn’t doing the drugs himself. The important thing to remember is you can’t afford to dismiss opioid paraphernalia as insignificant.
What If You Notice the Warning Signs?
At the end of the day, if you notice the warning signs your teen is abusing opioids, you have one pro-active choice: talk to your teenager.
If you’ve noticed physical symptoms, suggest taking him to the doctor for a check-up. Resistance to a routine exam may be further indication that your teenager is abusing opioids.
Interact with him after he’s been hanging out with friends. This can help you pinpoint signs of drug use (if that’s what they’ve been doing in their new social circle).
Ask about his behavior changes. Let him know your concerns. Yes, it’s a hard conversation to have, but ignoring the issue isn’t in his best interest. Take action as soon as possible, so, if he is abusing opioids, he can get the help he needs.
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