Teen Drug Abuse: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Teen drug abuse is the abuse or misuse of drugs of any type by teenagers. Teen drug abuse can involve legal or illegal drugs, including prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Symptoms and signs of teen drug abuse are extremely varied and depend to a certain extent on the substance being abused. Symptoms and signs can include depression, bad grades, poor hygiene, avoiding eye contact, food cravings (munchies), a smoky smell on breath or clothing, tiredness, and missing curfew. Other signs and symptoms can include secretive behavior, loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, laughing for no reason, or bloodshot eyes.

Causes of teen drug abuse

As with many psychiatric conditions, there is no one definitive cause for teen drug abuse. It's likely that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause drug abuse in teens.

Other teen drug abuse symptoms and signs

  • Avoiding Eye Contact
  • Bad Grades
  • Bloodshot Eyes
  • Changing Friends
  • Defiance
  • Depression
  • Food Cravings (Munchies)
  • Hostility
  • Isolation
  • Lack of Respect for Authority
  • Loss of Interest
  • Missing Curfew
  • Missing School
  • Poor Hygiene
  • Secretive Behavior
  • Smoky Smell on Clothing or Breath
  • Tiredness


Prescription Drug Abuse: Addiction, Health Risks, and Treatments See Slideshow

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.