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Despite being two different terms, addiction and abuse are closely related. It is important to know the difference between the two which helps in identifying the correct treatment intervention required. With the right identification of the problem, the accurate road to recovery can begin in earnest.

Adolescence or the teen years is that curious phase of life when experimentation with drugs and alcohol begins. While some abuse drugs and alcohol for some time, others prolong the abuse leading to dependency and then addiction.

Identifying Abuse

According to experts, drug or alcohol abuse is often overlooked and remains undiagnosed. The problem is identified only during an emergency. However, if parents are vigilant and keep a look out for certain signs, teen drug and alcohol abuse can be identified at the earliest. Alcohol or drug abuse by adolescents and teens can be identified by the following symptoms:

  • Excessive use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Poor or falling performance at school, work
  • Problems in relationships with family and friends
  • Use of drugs or alcohol even at events earlier enjoyed while being sober
  • Use of drugs or alcohol leading to problems with law 

Identifying abuse often becomes difficult. An adolescent who abuses drugs has control over their usage. Incidents of abuse might be limited only to weekends and during parties. Due to the false perception about usage control, drug or alcohol abuse often leads to addiction or chemical dependence.

Identifying Addiction

However, it does not take long for an abuse to turn into an addiction. Addiction can be identified by the following behavioral characteristics:

  • Extreme paranoia
  • Severe mood swings
  • Disturbed sleep and eating patterns
  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Involvement in criminal activities
  • Development of psychotic symptoms
  • Unprovoked anger or aggressive behavior
  • Secretive or avoidant behavior, withdrawal, and locking doors
  • Changed and distorted messages/status on social media accounts
  • Ignoring social life, friends, relatives and basically living in isolation
  • Spending money rapidly, on a constant lookout for money, short of money, and stealing
  • Frequent vomiting or a near-constant nausea, experienced especially when not using 

Physical characteristics that can point to an addiction include:

  • Red, watery, glassy, and unfocused eyes
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic odors or smells on the user
  • Uncoordinated hand-eye-brain movement
  • Unexplained and frequent injuries
  • Nose bleeds
  • Untidy appearance
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Prick marks on the arms
  • Sores on the arms, face or near the mouth 

Apart from the physical and behavioral changes, an addiction to drugs and alcohol is also characterized by the following:

  • The body’s tolerance to a certain drug or alcohol, which increases over a period of time leading to a larger dose for the same level of desired satisfaction.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the drug or alcohol intake is stopped or cut back. These symptoms include vomiting, paranoia, shivering, anxiety attacks, and even seizures, hypertension, and hallucinations.
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit. Relapsing is a major indication of addiction.
  • No control over the amount or time of drug or alcohol use.
  • Ignoring hobbies, games, and extracurricular activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol or which would not present an opportunity to use these.
  • Inability to stop drug or alcohol use in spite of knowing the negative and harmful consequences of using, leading to guilt and self-remorse, and increased usage.

Seeking Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Addiction treatment tends to become difficult due to the social stigma attached to it. A sense of shame and guilt is associated with drug and alcohol addiction. For parents of teens, it is a dreadful experience to see their children become victims of abuse and addiction. however, parents must realize that an addiction is a brain disease and therefore, can be treated just like any other physical illness.

ADEONA Healthcare understands that in the case of a teen, special care needs to be taken to choose the right treatment protocol. Compassionate care combined with personalized treatment modalities would go a long way in ensuring long-lasting recovery from teen alcohol and drug addiction.

To learn more about the addiction treatment plans offered at ADEONA Healthcare, call our 24/7 hotline (888) 997-3966. You can also chat online with our admission counselor to understand how we can help your troubled teen heal and live the happy life that they deserve.

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