March 6, 2007

How do you know if your Teen is on drugs?

I went thru a period with my oldest son for about 2 years that slapped me in the face, bringing me to a reality I wasn't ready for. This was a child that got straight A's in school, never talked back, and did what he was told. Then, out of the blue, my son changed. I had no idea that I was about to begin a roller coaster ride that would take me thru depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, endless worrying, and the worst heartache I would ever experience in my life. We both survived (barely) but here are some signs that your teen may be in trouble:

Problems with friends. Normal teens focus on their friends. In fact, their peer group often becomes more important than their family. When a teenager is a loner, it may be a sign that something is seriously amiss.
Difficulty with school. Refusing to go to school is an unmistakable sign that something is wrong. The same goes for a marked change in school performance.
Behavior that doesn't fit in. If your child is considered "weird" or "odd" by peers, it should be cause for concern. Not only is it painful for an adolescent to be an outsider, but it could signal a serious mental disorder.
Trouble with alcohol or drugs. For many teens, experimentation with alcohol and drugs is part of growing up. But if this experience is accompanied by a drop in grades or becomes a regular occurrence, it's time to seek help.
Depression and anxiety. Children who are consistently sad, anxious, moody or negative may be experiencing the symptoms of an emotional problem. "A preoccupation with death should always be taken very seriously by parents," says Steinhoff. "Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among adolescents."
Destructive behavior. When a child hurts himself or others, it's a red flag he or she needs help. "This includes violent temper tantrums, fighting, threats, hurting animals, vandalism, setting fires and being fascinated with weapons," says Steinhoff. If your child has a run-in with the law, it's a clear call for help.

Other Warning Signs:

• Preoccupation with obesity even if body weight is normal or below normal
• Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
• Inability to cope
• Many complaints about physical ailments
• Dramatic mood swings

Whatever you do, don't give up and don't back down. I found myself dealing more with issues pertaining to his friends and lack of discipline from their parents, than with anything else. Parents are afraid of their children and I think that's wrong. We brought these kids into this world, when did we lose control?? Kids need guidance, discipline, truth, patience, but most of all, they NEED parents not a best friend. I am a single Mom that took on a 16 year old and lived to talk about it. Now, he is in the military serving our country. He calls me on a regular basis from Spain just to tell me he loves me and talk about life. He has thanked me for not giving up on him and apologized for everything he put me thru. You can accomplish anything, just be unrelenting and always let the child know who is in charge. That's the bottom line!!

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