Identification – 4 facts in 4 areas
Identifying teenage substance use at school may be difficult but some of the warning signs include:
- Changes in school performance to include loss of concentration, altered or chaotic performance, difficulty sticking to deadlines, lack of engagement.
- Frequently missing classes or missing school.
- Conduct disorders or increased conduct disorders in students with ADHD, reduced inhibitions.
- Risk behaviour including self-harm.
2. Physical Factors
- Changes in weight and appetite.
- Strangely wired or tired and without energy.
- May present with a lot more physical illness, headaches, stomach complaints absences from school due to illness.
- Blood shot eyes, variation in pupil size, nasal damage.
3. Psychological changes
- Less able to concentrate and memory changes.
- Easily irritable and angry.
- Paranoid thinking.
- Depression or euphoria.
- Anxiety/panic attacks.
4. Social Factors
- Friends may present with concerns.
- Withdrawal from social group.
- Forming new friendships.
- In a group of friends who may carry out risky behaviour or are known to push boundaries.
What can schools do? 4 suggestions for change
- Education on addiction.
- A clear and effective system to support a student who presents with an addiction.
- A named teacher and peer supporter from a core team of trained staff and students to be available should help be needed.
- Establish links with local services and know what the referral pathways are. Get a professional to help assess risk.