Common Warning Signs of Teen Prescription Drug Use


According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 90% of adults who are addicted to prescription drugs started using drugs in middle school or high school. With legally prescribed opiates becoming increasingly common in homes across the country, teens have more access now than ever to prescription drugs that they can steal and use recreationally.

Teenagers may use pills to overcome the discomfort and insecurity that often comes with adolescence. They might see their friends using them and decide to try prescription drugs for themselves. Pills can often seem like a safer alternative compared to other drugs because they come from healthcare professionals. However, a teen who takes pills not prescribed by them can overdose or experience other negative side effects.

It may be tough to consider that your teen is using drugs, but denial is dangerous. If you’ve noticed abnormal changes in your teen’s personality, behavior, or habits, don’t ignore it. You know your child best, and if you have reason to believe that your child is using drugs, you have the power to help them.

According to Psychology Today, common warning signs of teen prescription medication abuse include:

  • Severe mood swings: Teens commonly experience mood swings, but if their emotions range more widely from one end of the spectrum to the other, seem to come about more suddenly, or are more aggressive and abusive than usual, the mood swing may be the result of drug use.
  • Family history of substance abuse: Children who have a history of substance abuse in their family tree experience a higher risk of addiction than those who don’t.
  • Extreme change in sleep habits: If it’s extremely difficult to wake your teen up, or if they are pale, cold, or have trouble breathing while asleep, they may be unconscious due to drug use.
  • Physical indications: Drug use can take a physical toll on an adolescent and present itself through weight loss, pale skin, and slurred speech.
  • Self-harm: By relying on prescription drugs as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress, your teen may lose the ability to handle negative emotions appropriately and turn to self-harm when they’re unable to use drugs.
  • Loss of pleasure in activities: Teens who are using prescription drugs may focus more on chasing the pleasure of a high than the activities they used to enjoy.

If your teen is exhibiting these signs, they may be abusing prescription drugs.

Reach out to your child in a calm and compassionate manner, and do your best to start a dialogue on the dangers of prescription drug abuse. These conversations should take place when your teen is sober, so you can both address the issue at hand with a level head. Encourage your teen to tell you why they’ve started to use drugs, so you can work together to overcome the stressors they’re struggling with.

Most importantly, don’t be ashamed to reach out to a professional for help. Even the best parent may not be an expert in teen addiction. Outpatient, intensive outpatient, and even residential care is available especially for teens struggling with addiction. Consult with a Pyramid Healthcare admissions expert today to determine which level of care is best for your teen, and where they can receive help closest to home.

Written by Rebecca Jones, Marketing Specialist



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