Teen Drug Abuse

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuideTeen Drug Abuse: Statistics, Facts, Warning Signs, and Symptoms

Teen Drug Abuse: Statistics, Facts, Warning Signs, and Symptoms

What are the symptoms of drug abuse in teens?

Some of the most common symptoms of drug abuse in teenagers include lying, making excuses, breaking curfew, staying in their room, becoming verbally or physically abusive toward others, having items in their possession that are connected to drug use (paraphernalia), the smell of drugs (for example, solvent smell of inhalants, marijuana smell) on them, mood swings, sleepless nights, stealing, and changes in friends. Examples of paraphernalia include matches, rolling papers, and pipes for drugs that are smoked, multiple pill bottles for substances that are in pill form, mirrors for drugs that are snorted, and needles, syringes, and items that can be used as tourniquets for drugs that are injected. In addition to those more behavioral symptoms, loved ones can look for the physical symptoms of drug intoxication and withdrawal. Given the complexity of those symptoms and how much they depend upon the specific drug being abused, loves ones are advised to have their family member evaluated medically and/or psychiatrically if substance abuse is suspected for any reason.

What is the treatment of drug intoxication?

Supporting the substance-abuse sufferer medically is the approach to managing most drug intoxications, since many substances of abuse can affect bodily functions (for example, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate). In addition to close medical monitoring, doctors usually have the individual assessed psychiatrically, since drugs are associated with everything from impaired judgment to severe aggression, assaultive behavior, and even suicidal and homicidal behaviors. Some medications are available to specifically counteract the effects of drugs. For example, naltrexone is used to counteract the effects of opioid intoxication. Blood pressure medications may be administered to patients who are suffering from high blood pressure associated with stimulant intoxication and with withdrawal from depressants. Fluids are often administered to those who have become dehydrated, and cooling blankets are given to those whose temperatures have become dangerously high, as may occur with Ecstasy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015

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  • Teen Drug Abuse - Drug Types

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