A teen who displays behaviors such as lashing out at teachers, skipping class, and failing tests once returning to school may have developed an addiction over the summer.

Teen drug use and experimentation may occur more frequently during the summer when school is not in session and there is more free, unstructured time. While some teens may simply experiment with drugs once or twice to fit in with peers, others may continue to use and develop drug addictions. Maintain vigilance and keep an eye out for the signs that a teen is experiencing more than the normal effects of summer fun, but is actually struggling with an addiction.

Heading Back to School

Once teens head back to school after the summer break, drug use may decline; however, some experimentation with drugs does typically occur among students. According to research conducted in 2018, 9.6 percent of 10th grade students and 12.4 percent of high school seniors report that they have used an illegal drug other than marijuana in the past year. Drugs in middle school are slightly less common, with 6.1 percent of youth in the 8th grade stating they have used a drug other than marijuana in the last year.

High school substance abuse statistics also reveal that marijuana use is relatively common among teens. Almost 6 percent of 12th-grade students indicate that they use marijuana every day, and only about one-fourth state that they feel marijuana use is risky. Substance abuse in high school students may continue to occur throughout the school year, especially if teens feel it isn’t particularly dangerous behavior. Drug use becomes a more significant problem when heading back to school, especially if teens are giving up other responsibilities in favor of drugs.

Commonly Mistaken Signs of Substance Abuse in Teens

Some signs of substance abuse in teens can be subtle, and they may be mistaken for typical teenage behavior. When a teen’s behavior suddenly changes and you suspect drug use, there are some commonly mistaken signs to watch for:

  • Failed Tests & Bad Grades: Some teens may struggle with their grades because they need additional assistance or tutoring or because they are not applying themselves academically, but when a teen who has historically done well in school begins to fail, it can be a sign of drug abuse. Teens who are addicted to drugs may forego studying and homework in favor of using drugs.
  • Missed Classes (Skipping): Teenage drug problems can also lead to missing classes. Teens who are struggling with addiction may skip school to use drugs or to recover from the effects of drug use.
  • Lashing Out at Teachers: It is not entirely unusual for teens to display some rebellious behaviors and have some disagreements with adults, but teens who are suddenly lashing out at teachers may be struggling with substance abuse. Mood swings and changes in behavior are a symptom of teen drug abuse, so a teen who is suddenly lashing out at authority figures may be experiencing side effects of drug use.
  • Sleeping in Class: Teenagers are notorious for staying up too late and struggling to get out of bed in the morning, but a teen who frequently sleeps through class could be recovering from the side effects of drugs. For example, if a teen is unable to sleep at night because of being under the influence of a stimulant like cocaine, he or she may sleep during class.
  • Stay Out Late on School Nights: Repeatedly breaking curfew can also be a sign that a teen is abusing drugs. Teens may stay out late into the night using drugs, and when under the influence, they may lose track of time.
  • Lack of Personal Hygiene: A teen who has suddenly lost interest in his or her appearance may be struggling with substance abuse. While poor hygiene may occur in some teenagers who aren’t using drugs, it is also possible that some teens are so preoccupied with drug use that they neglect to take care of their hygiene.

What to Do if Your Teen Is Addicted

If your teen is displaying some signs of addiction, a treatment program may be necessary. Talking to an addiction professional can help you determine whether your teen is in need of an evaluation for substance abuse.

If you suspect that your teen is abusing drugs, The Recovery Village offers comprehensive treatment services that can meet your family’s needs. Our caring staff is available to take your phone call and answer any questions you may have about teen addiction and substance abuse treatment for teens. Contact our admissions department today to take the next step. 

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Editor – Daron Christopher
Daron Christopher is an experienced speechwriter, copywriter and communications consultant based in Washington, DC. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Dr. Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has over seven years working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Monitoring the Future Survey: High Sc[…]and Youth Trends.” December 2018. Accessed August 8, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What are signs of drug use in adolescents, and what role can parents play in getting treatment?” January 2014. Accessed August 8, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.