Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Signs and Treatments

Teen drug and alcohol addiction is steadily increasing in both the US and Canada. More and more youths are getting hooked younger, using harder and more lethal drugs. This complex drug and alcohol situation threatens to tear the moral fabric of society apart– with disastrous consequences.

An effective teen drug and alcohol treatment in Canada prioritizes transformation over traditional treatment alone. These programs help teens overcome their drug and alcohol addictions through spiritual guidance and mental health counseling.

But, as good as rehabilitation programs may be, understanding the signs of drug and alcohol abuse is essential for keeping your teens safe.

Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

Teens tend to experiment with drug and alcohol abuse since they easily bend to negative societal and peer influence. As a parent or caretaker, it’s vital to understand that your teen’s willpower and self-esteem is weak and need constant monitoring.

To ensure that your teen doesn’t fall into harmful alcohol and drug vices, be on the lookout for signs of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

There are numerous physical, emotional, and psychological signs a teen with a drug and alcohol habit exhibits including the following.

Physical Signs

One of the significant ways in which drug and alcohol addiction manifests itself is through physical changes. By their nature and design, drugs and alcohol directly affect the physical condition of a user.

Some of the major physical changes in teens abusing drugs and alcohol include:

  • Loss of weight and appetite
  • Extreme fatigue or hyperactivity
  • Frequent and unexplained mood swings
  • Poor body hygiene
  • Unexplained nosebleeds, burns, cuts, runny nose, and other injuries
  • Bloodshot eyes, clammy skin, sweaty palms, and dilated pupils
  • Slurred speech, uncoordinated movement, fits, and seizures

Behavioral Changes

Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction adversely affect how teens interact with others by lowering their self-esteem and confidence.

These are the main social signs a youth addicted to drugs and alcohol may display.

  • Loss of interest in sports, hobbies, and other social activities
  • Avoiding eye contact and company of other people
  • Self-pity and regret
  • Isolation and changing friends
  • Becoming secretive, defensive, and highly irritable
  • Theft and pilfering
  • Acting irresponsibly
  • Paranoia, fidgeting, and anxiety

Legal Issues

Drug and alcohol addiction inevitably leads to legal problems since these substances often impair judgment and make teens act irrationally.

Increased arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct, possessing illegal substances, firearms, and drunk driving may point to a severe substance abuse problem.

Other drugs and alcohol abuse signs include poor school performance, a constant need for money, and rebelling against authority.

Dealing with a teen in this situation is stressful and may quickly overwhelm you. Fortunately, there are tried and proven treatments that can help your teen overcome this challenging and traumatic experience.

Let’s analyze the most effective treatment regimes for youth addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The recovery journey for teenagers involved in drugs and alcohol is not easy. But with combined effort and support of the family, community, and experts, addicted youths have the opportunity to break free from their addiction.

For the drug and alcohol recovery process to be successful you must understand that;

  • Drug and alcohol addiction is a medical illness
  • A trained specialist can help teens recover
  • It will take a concerted effort from the family, community, specialist, and the teens

Here are some popular and effective treatment options for teens battling drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.

Behavioral Counseling/Therapy

The most effective treatment for teenagers struggling with drugs and alcohol is behavioral therapy which aims to change their perceptions and behaviors towards alcohol and drugs. During behavioral counseling sessions, trained behavioral experts help teens realize the negative implications of drugs and alcohol in their lives.

Outpatient counseling sessions are structured, so the teen doesn’t feel judged or victimized, usually employing group sessions. Standard behavioral therapy techniques include cognitive-behavioral therapy, multidimensional family therapy, motivational interviewing, and motivational incentives.

Inpatient behavioral therapy is more intense and is reserved for teens with severe drug and alcohol issues. In an inpatient drug and alcohol therapy program, the teen participates in medically assisted detoxification, dialectical behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, and contingency management.


It sounds cliche, but drugs effectively treat drug and alcohol addiction. Treating drug and alcohol abuse often results in severe withdrawal symptoms, which can lead to severe health challenges. Drugs are used to reduce the effects of alcohol and drug withdrawal, chances of relapsing, and other co-occurring conditions like depression.

Common medications used in treating opioid addiction include opioids like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Nicotine tablets, sprays, gums, and patches effectively tackle nicotine addiction. Medications that work for tobacco addicts include bupropion and varenicline. Naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram are effective in treating alcohol addiction.

Medical Devices and Appliances

Medical devices and appliances are increasingly finding relevance in treating drug and alcohol issues. From audio-visual brain stimulators to neuro jet therapy devices, these modern medical appliances are helping teens wean off their harmful drug and alcohol habits. These devices use advanced algorithms and sensors to monitor and track body activity, helping teens cope with withdrawal.

Long-term Follow-up.

Treating a teenager’s drug and alcohol problem is a multi-step process and doesn’t end with helping the patient kick their habit. Comprehensive long-term follow-up is critical in helping teens from relapsing.

Follow-up involves tracking a teen’s behaviors, activities, and friends. Follow-up is a combined effort involving a teen’s friends, family, community, and counselors. Through follow-ups, members of the teen’s recovery team can identify challenges and possible triggers that can affect the teen.


There is no single solution to the teen drug and alcohol issue, but through concerted efforts from all stakeholders, this issue can find a lasting solution. If you’re a teenager suffering from addiction or have a friend or family member facing this problem, always remember that drug and alcohol addiction is not a life sentence.