Substance Abuse

Definition

Any overindulgence or dependency on alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication, that affects the ability of an individual to function normally. The consequences of substance abuse can include work and school impairment as well as negative social consequences.

Characteristics

  • Social drinking or being social to drink
  • Encouraging others to engage in alcohol or drugs
  • Rationalizations, such as “I can stop at any time.”
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Easily agitated
  • Denies drug or alcohol abuse when it’s evident to everyone else

What is normal?

Experimentation is normal. Drugs are readily available. On any given day more than 8,000 adolescents drink alcohol for the first time. The problem is that teens have a hard time correlating their current behavior with long-term effects. It’s normal for teens to feel invincible and think “that it won’t happen to me” but studies indicate that teens who drink are more likely to develop alcohol and drug related problems later in life.

When you should seek help:

You should seek help if your child:

  • Has tremors or experiences bouts of confusion
  • Exhibits withdrawn or secretive behavior
  • Is depressed or anxious
  • Develops irregular sleep patterns
  • Has a sudden gain or loss of weight
  • Has suicidal thoughts
  • Constant running nose or persistent cough
  • Irritable
  • Police contact, petty theft
  • Small burn holes in shirts
  • Any of the above symptoms along with a family history of alcohol or drug abuse

More Information

http://teens.drugabuse.gov/