We understand how worrying it can be if you suspect a young person you care about is drinking or using drugs. Let’s break it down for you and offer some advice on how to support them during this challenging time.
Why Do Young People Use Alcohol and Drugs?
There are various reasons why young people might turn to alcohol or drugs:
Experimentation and Rebellion: Teenagers are naturally curious and want to explore new experiences. Sometimes this includes experimenting with substances as a way of asserting their independence.
Peer Pressure and Socialising: The desire to fit in and connect with peers can lead young people to drink or use drugs, as they believe it’s a way to be part of a group.
Risk Perception: Adolescent brains perceive risks differently from adults, making them more prone to trying substances, even if they are aware of potential negative consequences.
Easy Accessibility: Drugs are unfortunately readily available and can be cheap, normalizing their use among young people, especially when purchased through social media.
Coping Mechanism: Alcohol and drugs can act as a temporary escape, providing relaxation or altering their perceptions, which might appeal to those struggling with anxiety or difficulties.
Environment and Upbringing: Growing up in an environment where alcohol and drugs are prevalent can influence a young person’s choices.
Recognising the Signs
Spotting signs of substance use can be challenging, as some behaviors might align with typical teenage behavior or mental health issues. Look out for:
Changes in Friendships: Making new friends and distancing from old ones could indicate involvement with a group that uses drugs.
Mood Swings and Out-of-Character Behavior: Sudden emotional shifts may be linked to drug use, but keep in mind that teenagers commonly experience mood changes.
Neglected Personal Appearance: Substance use can affect motivation, leading to poor hygiene and scruffy appearance.
Late-Night Activities: While staying out late is common, it could raise concerns if coupled with other warning signs.
Secrecy: Teens may be naturally private, but if they avoid sharing details about their whereabouts, combined with other signs, it could be a red flag.
Loss of Interest: Losing interest in hobbies is typical, but a sudden and significant shift might indicate other priorities.
Unexplained Spending: Hiding their expenses may indicate spending on substances they don’t want you to know about.
Taking the Next Steps
If you notice warning signs, try having a calm and planned conversation with the young person. Approach the subject with understanding and compassion, which will foster better communication. Our blog offers guidance on how to talk to your child about drugs and alcohol.
Our young people’s services (Find your nearest Young Person service Here) provide non-judgmental and friendly support. We build relationships based on trust and respect, recognising the unique needs of each individual. We involve parents and carers in the support process to ensure continuity at home.
Remember, reaching out for support is vital in helping young people navigate these challenges. With the right care and understanding, we can make a positive difference in their lives. Let’s work together to support our youth!
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