Is it Drugs or Puberty?

Is it Drugs or Puberty?

When a baby is born, its parents have all the hope in the world – he or she could be the next doctor, Einstein, Dale Earnhardt. The possibilities are limitless. And then they become teenagers and the world gets flipped on its head. What happened to the sweet, helpful little boy that was here yesterday? Where did that little girl go who would bandage up the dog’s boo boos? Instead, parents may be meeting their child’s evil twin: Moody or Leave-Me-Alone for the first time.

Parents sometimes wonder whether drugs are the culprit. They must be, right? Kids don’t change overnight like that, do they? Puberty is a tough time for kids. It can start during the “tween” years and continue until they move out of the nest. They get moody, defiant, rebellious, and are all-around emotional instability. What’s most terrifying is that these are also common symptoms of drug abuse.

So how can you tell the difference? With puberty, the changes can seem pretty severe. However, although it seems so, the differences are not, in fact, overnight. It is more likely a matter of “time flies.” The baby you remember cradling and begging to go back to sleep at two a.m. has actually been slowly growing up, right under your nose. Your son’s disgust of all things clean has turned into the desire to shower, wear deodorant, and maybe even a little cologne. The cooties your daughter thought all boys had, seem to be wearing off and she may have her first crush. The next thing you know they are in high school and counting down the days till graduation (overnight, right?).

When drug abuse is involved, the difference in behavior or demeanor, can be drastic. Some things professionals hear are of grades going downhill rapidly, child becoming more secretive, and of a withdrawal from family life. While these behaviors can still be symptomatic of puberty, if so, generally these things happen over the course of months. With drug abuse, the changes can be seen within weeks. A grade that plummets from an A to a D within a month is a pretty big red flag; loss of interest in previously loved sports or activities, and friends, is another.

There is no guarantee that your child will not become involved with drugs, but being diligent, involved and educated can help. For more information on drug trends, classifications, or to seek information on specific drugs, please see our offered trainings, here.

Also, please consider attending our Family Education Program sessions, either in-person, or online, which teach about family roles, addiction dynamics, risky behaviors, and resources for getting help if drug abuse is suspected.