Teenage Drug Abuse: Signs and Why Teens Turn to Drugs

Teenage drug abuse signs are hard to spot and teen drug abusers often hide their addiction. Learn about teen drug abuse to see if your teen needs teenage drug rehab.

Many addicts start using drugs in their teens and facts about drug abuse in teenagers are of interest to agencies who wish to reduce teenage drug abuse. It is thought if the number of teen drug abusers can be reduced, then addiction overall will decline.

Teenage Drug Abuse - Why Teens Turn to Drugs

Teenage drug use is common due to an adolescent's curiosity, desire to rebel and desire to fit in with a peer group. The vast majority of teens who try drugs will not become teen drug abusers. However, once addicted, the younger a person was when they start using drugs, the more difficult drug addiction recovery tends to be.

The reasons behind drug abuse in teenagers are similar to those involving drug abuse in adults. Often teenage drug addiction occurs because of stress at home and desires to reduce the emotional pain felt by teen drug abusers. Other reasons for drug use leading to teen drug abuse include:1

  • Low self-esteem
  • Boredom
  • Permissive parents, parents with drug abuse problems
  • Ease of access
  • To get attention

Teenage Drug Abuse - Signs of Teenage Drug Addiction

Unfortunately, the teenaged years are about rebelling against authority, self-expression and often moodiness, so detecting teenage drug addiction can be challenging. Knowing what is normal for your teen and looking for specific, dramatic lifestyle changes is one of the best ways to watch for teen drug abuse. A dramatic lifestyle change for a teenage drug abuser is likely to include pulling away from loved ones, a new peer group, a lack of interest in sport and hobbies, and poor grades in school.2

Other signs of teenage drug addiction include:

  • Use of incense, room deodorant, perfume or mouthwash to hide the smell of drugs on the teen and in the air
  • Increasing need for money
  • Talking in code with friends, wearing clothes that highlight drug use
  • Use of eye drops
  • Missing prescription drugs
  • Sudden mood changes including sudden rages, paranoia, depression or hyperactivity

Teenage Drug Abuse - Teenage Drug Rehab

Once the signs of teenage drug addiction have been spotted, a professional should screen for teen drug addiction. If teenage drug addiction is found to be at issue, teenage drug rehab can be considered. While teenage drug rehab programs will offer many of the same types of services as adult drug abuse rehab programs, the content of teenage drug rehab services is designed specifically for teen drug abusers. Teenage drug rehab often provides the following:

  • Therapy, individual and group
  • Family involvement including in workshops
  • A heavily structured environment
  • Accredited academics

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 15). Teenage Drug Abuse: Signs and Why Teens Turn to Drugs, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Last Updated: December 29, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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