No matter how old your child gets, their safety and wellbeing is always your priority. Protecting them from the harsh realities of the world can get more difficult as they start to enter their adolescence. A parent’s worst nightmare is to find out that their teen is battling a dangerous addiction. As the opioid epidemic sweeps the nation, it is reported that 58% of teens claim to have experimented with drugs and alcohol by the time they are 13 years old. Is your teen at risk? How will you know if they are using drugs? The signs can be confusing for many parents as it can already be a challenge to navigate the rapid physical and emotional changes that your teen is going through naturally. Unfortunately, the world of addiction has invaded all walks of life, all ages of people and in most areas of the country. Even if you live in a lower risk state like Florida, where the ranking of risk for teens to have addiction problems is 37th in each state ranking, your teens can still get involved without you knowing about it. The good news is that Florida and other states have a wide range of outreach programs to help, and finding a Florida detox center for your child, if it is necessary, won’t be too much of a challenge. Although it’s easy to imagine that your teen is from another planet based on their occasional behavior throughout their puberty, there are still some stark signs of drug abuse that parents can be watchful for. A proactive approach by parents is the first defense in helping a child before addiction becomes too severe. No matter how involved you are as a parent and whether you have championed a healthy lifestyle, teens are still highly susceptible to peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol. Keeping the lines of communication open with your child is one step; giving them a safe outlet to talk to you about issues is another. Here are some other signs that you can keep watch for, especially if you suspect that your teen may be using drugs. Emotional Changes The changing tide of hormones can make your child more emotional than normal during adolescence. It can be hard to determine if certain changes are just part of puberty or a sign of something more. When teens are using drugs or alcohol there will likely be more overt signs of emotional changes or outbursts. Look for dramatic mood swings, where your child will go from carefree and joyful to broody and miserable quickly. If you start to notice that your child is displaying abnormal signs of aggression this could be a sign. Depression, more than just the normal gloominess that many teens experience is a sign of possible drug use. Staying in bed for days, a marked lack of interest in things that they would normally enjoy and signs of physical exhaustion should be noted. Moments of unexplained excitability or edginess can also be a sign. Your child may begin to lash out in unexpected moments as well. Physical Signs A growth spurt or the beginnings of acne are both natural signs that your child is going through normal adolescence but, there are other physical signs of addiction that you should watch out for. Look for bruises or cuts on your child’s body that could be a result of falling or carelessness while intoxicated. Most physical signs will be much less obvious than the telltale needle markings that are every parent’s worst nightmare. Drug addiction is often accompanied by frequent headaches and nausea. If your child is always complaining of feeling “under the weather”, you should pay attention. Excessive sleeping followed by periods of laziness or lethargy can also be a sign that your child is abusing drugs or alcohol. When people become dependant on drugs or any substance they start to let other parts of their lives take a backseat like personal hygiene. Keep an eye out for a lack of care towards your teens’ physical appearance. They may stop showering, shaving or even let their hair grow longer without a care for how they look. Behavioral Changes Your teens’ behavior, if they are using drugs, will be closely tied to the emotional changes that they are experiencing. They may be more confrontational and seem more angry and aggressive than ever before. Your normally calm and polite teen may become quite sassy and lash out in situations that don’t seem to call for anger. You may find that they suddenly have no regard for the rules of the house and are getting in trouble more often than ever before. Addicts are well known for their secretive and dishonest behavior. Every attempt will be made to hide their activities from you. You may even discover that your teen has stolen money or other items from you or your home to get money to buy drugs. Conclusion The idea that your child might be involved with drugs can be a devastating and terrifying idea. As a parent, it is your job to make sure that your child is living a healthy and safe life. If you find that your child is acting strangely and you have no other explanation, you need to be aware of these signs and get your child the help that they need to battle their addiction.