A sad fact of life today is that more and more teens are choosing to use drugs, both legal and illegal. They may start out using tobacco or alcohol, or inhaling household products, and move on to even more powerful substances. These include stimulants, depressants, opiates (OH-pee-uts), hallucinogens (huh-LOO-sih-nuh-jens), and marijuana. Children can do a lot of damage to themselves before someone notices something is wrong, so it's important to be alert to any signs that a problem is developing. Adults first may notice tobacco or alcohol on the breath or intoxicated behavior. The child may be out of the house later at night or attempt to stay out all night or on weekends. There may be some unexplained school absences, and grades drop. The child could drop outside interests and activities, such as sports. Money or other valuables could be missing, and the child may be caught lying. Physiological (fi-zee-uh-LAH-ji-cal) signs and symptoms of substance abuse vary greatly, according to the kind of substance that's being taken, as well as the dosage, potency, and individual's reaction. Consult a doctor about what signs to look for in particular types of substance abuse, as well as what to do if you suspect that a child is using drugs.
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