Low income adult males - this used to be the typical meth user. Not anymore. Now, it is common for people from all walks of life and all ages to be caught in the deadly cycle of meth abuse.
And, unfortunately, the modern cycle of meth abuse and addiction now largely includes teenagers. With today being National Meth Awareness Day, it's only fitting we dig a little deeper and highlight some of the signs of abuse for parents.
The Teenage Profile
In 2012, Monitoring the Future reported that roughly one percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders had used methamphetamine in the past year. One percent might not seem like a big deal, but, let’s do the math:
With 11.1 million kids in those three grades combined, one percent is 111,000 kids, and no parent wants one of those 111,000 to be their own.
Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs
So, how do you know if your teen is among those 111,000? Meth is a highly addictive and destructive drug. Use of meth produces some tell-tale signs among teenagers...such as the following seven common and easily detectable indicators.
- Weight Loss – Meth is a stimulant, meaning it speeds up the body’s central nervous system. It has even been used medically to treat obesity in the past. If your teen is using meth, you will see a noticeable drop in body weight. This can be due to the physical effects of the drug, as well as a loss of appetite or general lack of interest in food.
- Meth Mouth – Meth causes an extremely dry mouth, which leaves teeth without their normal protection of saliva. Users may also grind their teeth and typically lack good hygiene. This combination causes dental problems. Tooth decay is common. Burns on the lips can also indicate the teen was smoking through a hot pipe.
- Mood Swings – While this may seem like standard behavior for any hormonal teen, it can be a sign of drug use. Meth often causes aggressive behavior as well as depression as the body’s systems are negatively affected and users cope with withdrawal.
- No Interest in Socializing – Teens using meth will likely lose interest in most, if not all, social pursuits. Their friendships and interactions diminish. The teen withdraws, putting little effort into things such as sports, extra curricular activities or hobbies.
- Tweaking – Meth users often get into a cycle of abuse. A teen may use meth for days, running on no sleep and only stopping when he runs out of meth or is physically incapable of using more. After a while, the drug does not give the desired effects, resulting in more use, which leads to increased agitation. Teens in this state are "tweaking." Tweaking signs include violent outbursts, quivering voice, rapid eye movements and jerky body movements.
- Skin Lesions – Meth often causes the sensation of bugs crawling on the skin. As a result, meth users scratch and pick at their skin, creating sores and often injuring themselves in the process.
- Lowered Mental Function – The use of meth damages brain function. You may notice your teen has memory loss, lack of concentration, and trouble with schoolwork. While these are often symptoms experienced by otherwise healthy teens or teens struggling with things other than drug use, they can be a sign of meth abuse.
If your teen is abusing meth, treatment is available. Find a program in your area that can help get your teen on the path to recovery.
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