Teens & Young Adults

Signs of Teenage Addiction

While the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey reported a decrease in illicit substance use among teens during 2021, teen addiction, alcohol use, and drug use are still a major concern throughout the United States. While substance abuse can happen at any age to anyone, the earlier in life an individual begins using a substance, the more likely they are to develop a substance use disorder later in life. In large part, this is because teenagers’ and young adults’ brains are still developing into their mid-twenties. As a result, teens and young adults are more susceptible to becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol than are adults whose brains are fully developed.

Therefore, it's vital to understand the warning signs that indicate a teenager or young adult may be struggling with addiction. Many of these signs of addiction in teens and young adults are the same as signs of addiction in older adults, however, there are a few subtle differences to be aware of.

Primary Signs of Teenage or Young Adult Addiction

Overall, one of the most important warning signs of teen drug abuse is that the individual continues the use of alcohol or drugs despite the negative consequences they may be experiencing. This includes problems with school or work, their physical health, and their relationships, including family members.

Another sign of teen and adolescent addiction is the youth in question may experience incredibly strong cravings for their substance or choice. They may feel they just cannot stop regardless of the detrimental effects it is having on their lives.

Other Signs of Drug Use and Alcohol Addiction in Young People


  • Receiving lower grades in school
  • Missing school or skipping classes
  • No longer participating in sports or extracurricular activities
  • No longer engaging in activities and hobbies they used to enjoy
  • Getting into trouble at school (and/or at work)
  • Getting into trouble with authorities or the law
  • Spending time with a different friend group
  • Spending more time alone
  • Spending more time out and away from their home
  • Having different eating habits
  • Having different sleeping habits
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of interest in things they once loved
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Missing curfew
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of impulse control
  • Nosebleeds
  • Poor hygiene
  • Prescription drugs or alcohol go missing
  • Experiencing problems with family members or other loved ones
  • Experiencing problems with friends
  • Taking less time with their appearance

Process Addiction and Teens

It’s also important to note that young adult and teenage drug use isn't the only addiction to be on the lookout or. Teens and adolescents can also develop a process or behavioral addiction. While they may not be abusing alcohol, stimulants, or other substances, process addictions are just as detrimental to a young person's development and wellbeing as substance abuse. Process addictions common to this age group include video gaming use disorder, internet addiction, sex/relationship addiction, and gambling addiction. The signs for process addictions in young people and teens are similar as for teen drug use or alcohol use.

Addiction Can Affect Anyone

There's no "type" of person who becomes addicted. Addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of how they look, where they live, how much money their family has, etc. If you think you may need help for a drug or alcohol problem, or if you know a teen or young adult who may have an addiction, Caron is here for you.

At Caron we believe recovery is more than possible; it’s probable. Learn more about Caron’s treatment programs and how we can help you or your loved one recover from addiction. We’re just one call away: 844-260-1324.

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