10 Signs Your Teen is Addicted to Alcohol or Drugs



Perhaps you have an expectation that your teen is going to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Some parents might be okay with this. While other parents hold a tighter rein and refuse to let their teens try any sort of substances, whether they are legal or not. Of course, one danger is the possibility that experimentation turns into regular substance use which turns into addiction. If you’re concerned about this, here are general signs that your teen may be doing more than experimentation with drugs:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity
  • Mood swings
  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Frequently getting into accidents, fights, or illegal activity.
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behavior
  • Unexplained need for money
  • Drop in attendance at school or work
  • Experiencing tremors, slurred speech, or an impaired condition
  • Changes in appetite
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Unusual scents on the breath or body

Signs of Addiction

As mentioned above, regular substance use puts a teen at risk for developing an addiction. The following are 10 signs that your teen may be addicted to drugs or alcohol:

  1. You are neglecting your responsibilities. When the need to drink or use drugs becomes strong, responsibilities get pushed to the side and frequently neglected.
  2. Your use of drugs or alcohol is leading to legal concerns. Frequent drugs use might lead to driving under the influence and being arrested for it. Or you might get arrested for disorderly conduct or for stealing to support your substance use.
  3. Your use of drugs and alcohol is affecting your relationships. When there is consistent use of drugs and alcohol and if you’re frequently getting high, then it’s going to be hard to relate to others in a meaningful way.
  4. You’re building a tolerance to the drug or to alcohol. Tolerance indicates that you’re needing to take more of the drug to get the same high.
  5. You experience cravings and desires to use. This is a sign that the body and the brain are becoming dependent upon the substance.
  6. You’re taking other drugs to avoid having withdrawal symptoms. If you don’t have time to use during the day because of school , for example, then taking another drug might hold you over until you can have a drink. This is a good indication that you’ve become addicted.
  7. You’re losing any sort of control over when you drink or use. Telling yourself you’re not going to drink tonight, but you end up doing it anyway is another indication of addiction. You may want to stop using drugs or drinking entirely but you just can’t seem to stop no matter how hard you try.
  8. Your life revolves around using drugs or drinking. You’re thinking, dreaming, fantasizing, and looking forward to your next drink or high when you’re not using.
  9. You’re no longer doing activities you love. The fact that you’re always thinking and dreaming about drinking or getting high, you’re probably no longer doing the things you enjoy. Instead, you’re either getting high or thinking about getting high. Addiction becomes the center of your life.
  10. You keep using drugs or drinking even though you know it’s hurting you. There’s a clear indication that you might have an addiction when you keep using but it’s bringing great harm to your life.


These are signs for parents and caregivers to look for in their teens, especially if they are concerned about experimentation, regular drug use, and addiction.