How do you know if a teen or young adult is struggling with SUD or Substance Use Disorder?
Adolescence is a time of growth, a discovery of self, and various physical, social, and psychological transitions. Teens may use various coping mechanisms to go through this period. Unfortunately, some of them can fall prey to the use of substances.
This can add to their pre-existing difficulties and make them vulnerable to other mental health issues. Identifying the signs can help you protect your teen or a young adult who matters to you!
Five clues that a teen is struggling with SUD or Substance Use Disorder
SUD significantly impacts teen mental health. While a mental health professional can only give a diagnosis and do comprehensive assessments, you can spot signs that a young adult has started using substances or has become dependent on them.
Here are five clues that can help you:
1. Behavioral changes
One of the biggest changes in SUD or Substance Use Disorder is the change in behavior.
It may begin with mood swings for no obvious reason. They may appear moody, irritable, and easily annoyed. When asked about reasons, they may become hostile and aggressive.
A key change in behavior is social withdrawal or isolation, especially from family and close friends. As a result, it might be difficult to know their whereabouts.
2. Physical changes
While not in all cases, some teens may experience changes in their physical appearance. Changes in weight, bloodshot eyes, and unexplained injuries are common signs. They may also want to dress differently if they are trying to fit into a group dealing with substances.
3. Social and psychological changes
Skipping classes, difficulty concentrating, and frequent arguments with friends are some of the social changes a teen may display. They may get acquainted with a group that is infamous for substance use. The peer pressure may consequently lead to some personality changes.
4. Changes in everyday routine
With SUD or Substance Use Disorder, the typical becomes atypical, and the routine becomes messed up. Since the teen's internal world changes, it can lead to a disruption in their routine and everyday functioning.
There may be noticeable sleep and eating difficulties. They may struggle to complete important tasks on time and may have difficulties completing everyday chores.
5. Legal issues
Teens may end up taking a lot of risks to buy substances or end up in illegal places and situations. This may lead to legal troubles or encounters with law and order. More importantly, in their internal worlds, there may be a moral clash between what is legal and what is not. They may not want to do it, but they may be compelled to.
If you know a teen or young adult who may struggle with SUD or Substance Use Disorder, the first step is to empathize and acknowledge the situation. The next is communication with the teen about the SUD.
Typically, any teen may be resistant to seeking substance abuse therapy at first, but kind and supportive words can encourage them to do so. In the battle with SUD or Substance Use Disorder, they need support more than anything else.
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.
What do you think of this story? Tell us in the comments section below.