Signs of Adolescent Mental Health or Substance Abuse Problems As Reported by Teens Themselves:
- Changes in appearance that are never for the better
- Unexpected and extreme mood swings
- Oversleeping and binge eating
- Running away from home or suicidal threats or threats when parents say no
- Finding any of the following in backpacks or the teen’s bedroom: Visine, Clear Eyes, breath mints, rolling papers, cigar wraps, lighters, one hitter pipes, tinfoil, empty pen cylinders, or small plastic bags
- Keeping to themselves when the family is around
- Dishonesty about their whereabouts and activities with friends
- No respect for family rules and values
- Fast or steady drop in grades; not caring about assignments and homework
- Cutting classes and school
- Giving up “good” peer group friends in favor of isolation or new, shady friends that you really don’t know
- Giving up cool hobbies or quitting sports/school activities
- Taking money or possessions from family and friends
- Arrests for alcohol or pot possession, curfew violations, or vandalism and petty theft
- Lots of secret keeping
- Unwillingness to give up cell phone or share social media accounts with parents
- Refusing to take medication, see therapist, or receive help
- Missing alcohol or medications in the home
- And finally, blaming others (parents, other family members, teachers, police) for any of the above
In most cases, any three of these signs can mean a mental health or substance abuse problem. If you are not sure, get your teen an assessment.
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