To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Substance Use Disorder: Dealing With Teen Substance Use

Table of Contents


Use of alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants, and other drugs in adolescents is a major concern for parents. Preteens and teens are starting to use harmful and illegal substances at younger ages. Drinking, smoking, and drug use can affect your child's general health. They can also affect physical growth, emotional development, and school performance. You can recognize and respond to substance use by:

How to recognize and deal with teen substance use

Try the following techniques.

Is your teen using alcohol or drugs?

If you think your teen may be using substances, look for warning signs. They include:

Has he or she experimented?

If you think that your teen has begun to experiment with alcohol or other substances:

Is it "getting out of hand"?

Your teen may be having problems in school, at home, with relationships, or with the law related to substance use. These difficulties point to a substance use disorder. If you think your teen is using any substance regularly or daily—such as alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants, or other drugs—don't ignore it. This use is serious. It should not be denied or minimized. Frequent or regular use of a substance can quickly lead to substance use disorder. Or your teen may already be physically dependent on the substance.

To help your teen:

Credits for Substance Use Disorder: Dealing With Teen Substance Use

Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Peter Monti PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health

Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.