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.

A Parents Guide to Preventing Underage Drinking PDF


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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.

How Rehab Can Help Teenagers

Rehab for teenagers is a specialist program found in many recovery centres; our team can help you find a residential clinic to provide tailored care for young people struggling with addiction. There is no shortage of inpatient and outpatient rehab and recovery programs in the UK. They can be found in major cities and small towns alike. Some of them are designed specifically to help teenagers. Those that serve young people exclusively offer a unique approach to rehab for teens.

If you are a parent who has been looking for ‘rehab for teens near me’ because your child is struggling with substance abuse, know that help is available. Treatments are made possible through the NHS, private rehab clinics, private medical practices, and even charitable organisations.

Alcohol or drug rehab for teens might be the best opportunity for your child to overcome their struggles. For the sake of your child, our team can help you find the best option for you and your family. 

teenagers in rehab group therapy

Is there Rehab Specifically for Teenagers?

Rehab centres in the UK are many and varied, and although they are usually open to anyone who is serious about recovery, different rehabs will appeal to different people. Several of the rehabs we work with in the UK offer specific programs and have trained staff who specialise in helping younger people in recovery. 

Why is Rehab Different for Teenagers?

Advantages of Rehab

  • Teenagers suffer most from peer pressure to take addictive substances. Removing them from a toxic social situation can make a significant difference in their recovery. 
  • It is easier to admit a teenager to rehab than an adult. As young people are more influenced by their families, it is simpler to admit them to rehab.
  • Teens usually have less outside responsibilities such as work, childcare and domestic duties than adults. So spending a month in rehab is not as challenging.
  • It can be hard for parents and guardians to understand a teenager’s addiction, and they may open up to a therapist in ways they don’t feel comfortable with a family member.

Disadvantages of Rehab

  • Being away from family and home can be tough for young people, especially those with a strong support network. A rehab close to home is highly recommended for younger people. This allows visitors and family therapy.
  • Facing the possibility of lifelong sobriety is hard for young people, and almost all rehab programs will recommend residents commit to being abstinent permanently.

What Rehab for Teens Offers

It is understandable that parents want to help their teens themselves. They want to keep their children at home while they nurse them through rehab and recovery. Home recovery is certainly an option, but there are plenty of benefits that come with taking advantage of specialised rehab for teens in an outpatient or inpatient setting.

Here is just a small sampling of what specialised rehab for teens offers:

  • Treatment with Peers – Both inpatient and outpatient drug rehab for teens places teen patients with their peers for treatment. This creates a level playing field through which teens can feel more relaxed and at ease.
  • Specialised Treatments – Teen patients get the benefit of specialised treatment plans that take into account their needs, age, emotional and physical growth, etc.
  • Compassionate Providers – The staff at a typical teen drug or alcohol rehab centre is a caring and compassionate group that understands the needs and issues modern teens face.
  • Full Support – Professional treatment for teens includes full support throughout. Patients are never left to fend for themselves. There are always medical professionals and others on hand to assist.
  • Life Skills Training – Remaining substance-free after treatment depends largely on how teens approach life. A specialised rehab program for teens will include life skills training designed to equip them for the right approach.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for drug and alcohol misuse. That is true of both individuals and groups. In terms of the latter, the need for individualised treatments justifies specialised drug rehab centres for teens. They are rehab centres that approach drug and alcohol rehab from a different angle well suited to who teenagers are as people.

You and Your Teen Have Options

Drug, alcohol, and even depression rehab for teens is available throughout the UK. You and your teen do have options. Finding them starts with contacting either your GP, a drug or alcohol charity, or a private clinic. Sit down with someone who can talk with you about:

Information is going to be your best tool as you and your teen work together to determine the best course of action. The more information you have, the easier it will be for you to make the right decision for your child.

Just know this: delaying the decision when your child is in trouble isn’t the wisest course of action. The best chances for success with both outpatient and inpatient rehab for teens are to get started as early as possible. Early intervention increases the chances of success dramatically. The opposite is also true. The longer you wait, the harder recovery becomes.

Rehab Can Help Your Teen Overcome

If you are a parent struggling to help a teen with a drug or alcohol problem, you are not alone. So many others are on the same journey. Countless parents and teens have already completed that journey. They all have one thing in common: they reached out for help finding a good rehab for teens.

Rehab can help your teen overcome his or her substance misuse problem. But to take advantage of that help, you need to reach out to those who can help you. Do not wait any longer. Whether you are a teenager or a parent, there are good people waiting to come alongside you with proven rehab and ongoing support. They want to help you complete that recovery journey.

teenager talking to detox doctor

5 Concerns Related to Teens in Substance or Depression Rehab

Substance abuse and mental health problems among teenagers are more common than ever before. So much so that families are increasingly in need of drug, alcohol, and depression rehab for teens. Families have a variety of concerns that come with the territory.

Many of those concerns relate to what will happen if a teen does not undergo rehab therapy. But there are concerns about what might happen during therapy as well. Needless to say that getting treatment for teens suffering from substance abuse or mental health problems isn’t an easy road. It definitely has its bumps.

Here are five of the most common concerns related to teens in substance or depression rehab:

1. Ongoing Family Struggles

It is common knowledge among teen rehab providers that substance abuse and mental health issues can be caused or exacerbated by a number of different external circumstances. Chief among them are ongoing family struggles. Family problems are among the most common problems teens face.

Taking advantage of mental health or drug rehab for teens is only a short-term solution if ongoing family struggles are not addressed. Once a struggling teen returns to a dysfunctional family, the risk of sliding back into past behaviours is fairly high.

2. Ongoing Academic Struggles

For many a teenager facing mental health or substance abuse issues, academics are a struggle. Teenagers struggle to keep their grades up. They struggle to complete assignments and pass exams. Many even struggle to get along with school staff. It is a big concern among rehab counsellors.

The good news is that many clinics offering both outpatient and inpatient rehab for teens offer life skills training alongside substance abuse and mental health counselling. Teaching young people the right life skills that will help them cope with the challenging world can improve an otherwise difficult academic situation.

3. Ongoing Peer Pressure

If there is one thing nearly all staff members at rehab centres for teens have seen first-hand, it is peer pressure. Every teenager is ultimately responsible for their own decisions. But peer pressure plays a significant role. Teens who would otherwise not struggle with substance abuse or depression can easily find themselves on that slippery slope by going along with their peers.

Rehab for teens needs to account for peer pressure if those behind it hope to achieve positive results. Teens need to learn how to deal with peer pressure in a positive way. They need to learn to identify risky behaviour and avoid it whenever possible.

Counsellors at mental health and drug rehab centres for teens are always concerned about peer pressure. It is one of the many environmental variables they cannot control. When teen patients complete treatment and are released, they are going to face that peer pressure again.

4. Examples Set by Parents

Unfortunately, even the most successful rehab for teens can be undone when a teenager goes home and witnesses his parents engaging in the same types of behaviours that caused him or her trouble. This is very confusing for a young person’s brain, a brain that is still developing and trying to understand the world.

The challenge for many teens is drawing the line between responsible and destructive behaviour. Teens are prone to destructive behaviour without realising they are engaging in it. They see their parents drinking, for example and don’t even consider the idea of self-restraint. An inability to think as an adult can undo everything accomplished in rehab.

5. Examples Set by the Culture

Hand-in-hand with parental examples are those set by the culture. Parents could invest a lot in outpatient drug rehab for teens. They could invest even more in inpatient drug rehab. But once rehab is complete, the teenager has to live in the culture again. That culture continuously sends confusing messages.

We Brits love our alcohol. So much so that it is embedded in nearly every aspect of the culture. Imagine a young person completing inpatient rehab for teens and then being bombarded with drinking messages all over again. Unfortunately, the culture is equally troubling in relation to drug abuse and mental health problems.

Have you been searching for ‘rehab for teens near me’? Whether you are a parent or a teenager, help is available. You can find rehab treatments for both substance abuse and mental health issues. Speak with your GP, a private healthcare provider, a private rehab clinic, or a charitable organisation that specialises in teen rehab opportunities.


National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)



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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.

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