What Are The Signs of Stimulant Abuse in Teens
Many teens today struggle with stimulant use disorders. Some may be prescribed stimulant medications by their doctors, while others may buy or steal prescriptions, or find illegal stimulants to take. This can cause long-lasting dangerous effects on a developing brain, life goals, and family relationships.
Parents and legal guardians must be able to recognize the signs of stimulant abuse in a teen so they can find proper stimulant addiction treatment. For parents who have no history with substance abuse or who may be busy with responsibilities, recognizing these signs isn’t always easy.
Just like adults, teens may work hard to hide an addiction from those closest to them. In some cases, an issue may not come to light until substance abuse has transpired for some time. If you or a loved one are not sure if a teen is abusing stimulants, look out for the signs below.
Scope of Stimulant Use Amongst Teens
Stimulants provide small bursts of energy and euphoria. These drugs are commonly abused by both adults and teens. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has many figures related to the scope of substance and stimulant abuse by young people. In 2021, NIDA found that:
- 3% of 8th graders, 2.7% of 10th graders, and 2.3% of 12th graders reported abusing amphetamines
- 0.6% of 8th graders, 0.3% of 10th graders, and 0.5% of 12 graders reported abusing Ritalin, a prescribed stimulant
- 1.8% of 8th graders, 1.6% of 10th graders, and 1.8% of 12 graders reported abusing Adderall, another prescribed stimulant
- 0.2% of 8th graders, 0.6% of 10th graders, and 1.2% of 12th graders abused cocaine
Signs of Teenage Stimulant Abuse
The most common form of stimulant abuse comes in the form of prescription drug misuse, but there are also illegal stimulants that are abused. Teenagers are well-equipped to hide certain parts of their lives from an authority figure, including substance abuse. In some cases, parents may think their children are just acting defiantly due to puberty. However, there are specific signs that can point to addiction in adolescents.
Some of these signs are:
- frequently acting withdrawn
- always tired or depressed
- aggressive, hostile, or violent behavior
- secrecy and lying about where they’ve been or who they hang out with
- a change in friend groups
- lack of attention to hygiene and overall appearance
- weakening school and extracurricular performance
- absent from school or classes
- uninterested in hobbies or favorite activities
- changes in sleeping habits
- weight loss from not eating as much
- relationship problems with friends and family members
Signs can also come from missing items and money around the house. If you’re a parent and have noticed prescriptions, valuables, or cash missing and witnessed any of the above signs in your child, this could be due to an addiction.
Why Are Teens Abusing Stimulants?
Teenagers face many difficulties with a rapidly changing employment, technological, and social landscape. From a young age, teens are expected to have a sense of what they want to do in the future and understand the world’s complex nature. This can be overbearing for some, which makes them turn to substances of abuse, such as alcohol or drugs.
Others have developed attention deficit disorders from the overstimulation of media and electronics. This is when some teenagers are prescribed stimulant medication to balance out an active mind and achieve focus. While these medications are usually safe in small doses, it’s easy to become addicted to their effects. Some may want to feel the effects stronger, so they snort, smoke, or inject medications.
Some of these medications are:
Teen Addiction Help
If you know a teen with a stimulant addiction, there are many treatment options and ways to find help. By entering an addiction treatment program, a teen can recover from a substance use disorder and lead a long healthy life.