Teenagers by nature can be moody and unpredictable so it's sometimes difficult to tell if your child is using methamphetamine. However, there are warning signs to watch for. Take a look at the following to see if you recognize any of them in your teen.
Short-Term Use Can Result In
- Alertness and inability to sleep: Something might be up if you notice a change in your teen's sleeping patterns -- especially if he's staying up for days on end and then sleeping or fatigued for a few days straight.
- Nervous physical activity: You notice your daughter is fidgeting -- and possibly scratching or picking at her skin.
- Decreased appetite: Your child is uninterested in food, and starts to become dangerously thin.
- Euphoria and rush: Your teen might be extremely alert and energized, even after he or she was up all night.
- Increased respiration and/or increased body temperature: Your child might appear out of breath for no reason (methamphetamine is a stimulant that can speed up one's heart rate.)
- Burns, nosebleeds or track marks: If there strange burns on her lips or fingers, she may be smoking methamphetamine through a hot glass or metal pipe. Snorting methamphetamine could cause nosebleeds and eventually eat away at the septum inside the nose. If she's using methamphetamine intravenously there could be track marks on her arms.
- Carelessness about appearance: Has your teen stopped showering? Has she lost interest in grooming? Does he no longer brush his teeth?
- Deceit or secretiveness: Is your normally honest child lying to you all the time? Is his bedroom door always closed? Has she got a seemingly endless string of excuses to justify her behavior?
- Violence and aggression: Methamphetamine affects the central nervous system, which in turn can affect a person's mood. Look for wild mood swings, hostility or abusive behavior.
- Presence of inhaling and injecting paraphernalia: If you noticed razor blades, mirrors, straws, syringes, spoons or surgical tubing in your child's room, this is a clear sign of drug abuse -- and a cry for help.
- Withdrawal from family and friends: Look for deteriorating relationships with family members and friends. She may be depressed or exhibit a lack of enthusiasm -- and not share or express herself as she used to.
- Loss of interest in school and extracurricular activities: Methamphetamine is highly addictive, and many users spend most of their free time looking for another way to find more of the drug. Therefore, interests that were once very important to your child may all of a sudden seem insignificant.
- Problems at school: This can include slipping grades, absenteeism and decreased motivation.
- Missing valuables: For the teen who's looking to buy drugs, their parents' house can be a gold mine of resources -- from stealing cash from your wallet to swiping valuables like jewelry and heirlooms to pawn for money.
Long-Term Use Can Result In
- Dependence: If your child can't function in their day-to-day activities without meth, they are dependent - and possibly addicted.
- Addiction psychosis: This can include a number of disturbing behaviors:
- Mood disturbances
- Repetitive motor activity
- Your child might talk to people who aren't there or become so paranoid that he won't leave the house.
- Meth Mouth: The ingredients used to make methamphetamine are dangerous and toxic and users who often stay high for several days don't eat and rarely brush their teeth. Tooth decay and rot on tooth surfaces that most people would normally brush is not uncommon. Methamphetamine also causes the mouth to dry out, meaning there's no saliva to help clean the teeth.
- Severe anorexia: Some teens take methamphetamine to lose weight, and become dependant on the drug. The weight loss can be rather quick and drastic - leaving them looking unhealthy and skeleton-thin.
- Memory loss: Methamphetamine is very toxic and can affect the brain so much that your 16 year old may begin to show symptoms similar to Alzheimer's.
- Stroke, liver or heart failure: Methamphetamine puts the body in overdrive, which can fatally damage one's internal organs.
** In all cases of methamphetamine use, a user may experience a loss of inhibitions and a false sense of control and confidence, which can lead to dangerous behavior.
Adapted from The Partnership for a Drug Free America, 2006