Teenage Drug Addiction - Warning Signs | Detox Plus UK

Teenage drug addiction is one of the most serious substance abuse problems in the UK. Thankfully, early treatment can help avert a lifetime of drug abuse.

The Problem Of Teenage Drug Addiction

According to reports by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 50 per cent of teens have abused an illicit drug, 20% have used a prescription drug recreationally, 40 per cent have smoked a cigarette, and 70 per cent have tried alcohol by their senior year in high school. Be it stealing from their parents, being provided by a friend or, in some cases, shoplifting from a store. But, on the other hand, a shocking 25 per cent of teenagers say they have been given alcohol at an early age.

School counselor explaining anger management techniques to a group of teenagers

There used to be a worry about children smoking cigarettes, but while figures have dropped there has been a rise in vaping, despite the health risks.

Taking these gateway substances, alongside drugs, alcohol and tobacco at a young age, can alter an adolescent’s natural brain’s functioning. Leading to addiction and abusing harder drugs in adulthood.

What Drugs Are Most Frequently Used By Teenagers?

Some teens begin experimenting with drugs as a result of friends or become curious after listening to media about drug abuse. . The teens say drugs are everywhere – and are often as accessible as a can of pop. They can speak firsthand that it doesn’t matter if you live in a housing project or a million-dollar home, every teenager will be tempted by drugs and alcohol, and some may end up becoming hard-core users. A lot of the standard drugs have been around for decades and even centuries and others like “legal highs” are being introduced daily. In May 2016 the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect, banning all non-exempt psychoactive substances.

Treatment centres see teenage patients struggling with all kinds of drugs, from the “big names” you hear about your whole life, to lesser-known substances that can give health problems and be equally as addictive and dangerous. 

The most familiar abused illicit drugs among teens include:

Teenagers are now regularly abusing prescription drugs, and it is worth keeping an eye on. Medications at home should be locked away safely. However, it is possible your teenager can still attain these pills from drug dealers as they would with illicit drugs, and they can also steal them from their family or friends. So be aware.

Some of the most familiar abused prescription medicines include:

What signs will I see if my teenager is using drugs?

Teen drug abuse is a very serious matter. A revealing sign of a drug problem is paraphernalia — the tools or objects used to store, prepare or take drugs. Finding any of these in your teen’s bedroom, laundry, car or backpack should be a red flag.

Common objects associated with drug use include:

  • Pipes
  • Bongs
  • Rolling papers
  • Plastic baggies
  • Aluminium foil
  • Bottles of pills
  • Needles
  • Lighters
  • Empty aerosol bottles (spray paint, household cleaners, etc.)

You could also look for physical evidence of the drugs themselves, which are often left behind from being used. Bits of cannabis, white powder, pills and other questionable bits and pieces should not be disregarded. You can’t automatically assume the worst if you spot any sign of evidence, but you should still stay on alert.

There are early warning signs when it comes to teenage drug addiction. There are behavioural and physical signs you should pay attention to. Keep an eye out for any warning signs and trust your instincts. Noticed something wrong? Pay attention to changes in personality, poor judgement and mood swings or showing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Are they becoming secretive or withdrawn, or displaying a loss of interest in hobbies? Maybe hanging about with new friends? If you are worried, address your concerns in a caring, positive way without being heavy-handed.

Teenage drug addiction can occur for a wide variety of reasons. Many children start using drugs or alcohol by the age of 12. But if a youngster holds off taking illegal substances, it can reduce their chances of addiction as a grown-up.

There are steps that can be taken to stop children from taking drugs or alcohol. The support of family members, responsible adults and role models can play an essential part in prevention.

It is recommended you spend some quality time with your loved one. Take a moment to talk things over and find out what’s going on in their busy lives. Show them you will always be there. Reassure your children you will make time for them and listen to what they say. Let them know they can come to you if they ever have problems.

Familiarise yourself with their social life, and get to know the important people in your children’s lives. Their friends and their friend’s families. Where would they go to if they were in trouble and needed to talk? Don’t shut yourself out of the circle. Remind your youngsters what is expected of them when they leave home. If they are meeting friends or going out for the evening, tell them you presume they will be sensible and not smoke or take drugs or alcohol.

Talk about the risks in a non-forceful manner. Possibly mention a story on the news, something you saw on TV or in a movie. It may relate to a friend, family member or someone you know. Hitting home that taking drugs and alcohol at a young age is against the law and can lead to serious consequences. Adults should also set a good example by living a clean life. Refraining from drugs and taking alcohol in moderation. Keep in mind kids look to their parents to see how to behave. They should also restrict their child’s accessibility to alcohol or prescription painkillers by locking them away.

If your child has made a mistake, try and learn from it constructively. Listen to their point of view while still setting the boundaries. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from doctors, teachers or drug and alcohol counsellors who can offer advice to youngsters. Adolescence is an important part of life, full of change. It can be a time of newfound independence and responsibility for young people.

Is My Teen At Risk For Drug Addiction?

If you see indications that your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, you need to take action now. Because we view teenage drug addiction as a family disease and treatment works most effectively when family members are involved in the recovery process whenever possible.

Too many times, we at Detox Plus UK have spoken with inconsolable parents who did not act when they first noticed signs of potential substance abuse and wished they had before it developed into an addiction. Take steps today to avoid that outcome. Your first step is to reach out to a professional at Detox Plus UK. Our help is free of charge and confidential. A professional can help you assess the situation, and determine any next steps that should be taken. If it turns out that your teenager needs help, we can discuss some options for rehab for teens with you.

Don’t wait until tomorrow to give your teenager the best chance in life. Just call us — we can help you take it from there.



National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)



Opiates faq

How long do opiates stay in your system?

The half-life for opiates can range from 1-9 hours, depending on how much you take and which type. For instance, the half-life of morphine is 1.5-6.5 hours, the half-life of codeine is 1-4 hours, and the half-life of hydrocodone is 3.5-9 hours The amount of time that opiates can be detected in your system relies on the type of test.

What happens when you mix alcohol with opiates?

Both opiates and alcohol depress the activity of the central nervous system, slowing breathing and heart rate. When taken together, the effects of these substances only increase, slowing breathing and heart rate down dangerously and depriving essential parts of the body of oxygen. Without an adequate amount of oxygen, essential organ systems begin to shut down. This can cause brain damage, or worse, death. Ingestion of opiates and alcohol also leads to loss of balance and coordination, increasing the risk of severe falls and rendering normal activities like driving deadly.

Can heroin abuse cause diabetes?

Some research implies that regular consumption of heroin can have an impact upon the pancreas which can cause hyperglycaemia; more studies are underway in order to establish the nature of this relationship.

    Request a callback

    footer image

    Ready to start ? We're here for you


    Call Us for Any Questions