Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

What to Do if You Notice Changes in Your Son

Changes are normal for kids of all ages, and during the teen years, the changes experienced by your son can be abrupt and disconcerting. Unfortunately, these changes can be as overwhelming and difficult to understand for your son as they are for you, and your child may not know how to handle the waves of emotions that seem to come out of nowhere. It’s not uncommon for teens who struggle with extreme emotional issues or changes to seek relief in the form of drugs and alcohol.

In fact, The Partnership at reports that:

  • Half of all teens will have had at least one alcoholic beverage by the time they are 15.
  • About 60 percent of teens report that they have knowledge of drugs being used, sold or stored at school.
  • About 25 percent of teens have abused a prescription drug (taking it without a prescription) at least once.

So how can you help your teen avoid the pitfalls associated with drug and alcohol abuse when you notice that he is struggling due to the changes he’s experience?

What’s Normal and What Isn’t

What changes in your son are caused by normal hormone fluctuations and what changes may be due to – or worsened by – drugs and alcohol? According to The Parent’s Guide to the Teen Brain, a number of different changes should be red flags to parents.

Behavioral changes

  • Lack of coordination
  • Unwarranted aggression or hostility
  • Lack of motivation
  • Uncharacteristically obnoxious behavior
  • Deceitfulness
  • Secrecy


  • Poor hygiene
  • Messy, unkempt appearance that is out of the ordinary
  • Burnt fingertips or lips
  • Flushed skin
  • Extreme weight loss or gain

Other changes

  • Odd smells in clothes or on breath (e.g., fumes, alcohol, marijuana, smoke)
  • Constant illness symptoms that are akin to the flu or a cold
  • Heavy use of over-the-counter drugs like nasal sprays or eye drops
  • Secretive phone calls or texts
  • Not making eye contact
  • Truancy or problems at school
  • Losing interest in extracurricular activities

When It’s Time to Take Action

Your son’s brain will continue to develop and mature until his mid-20s. Throughout this period, your son will go through a number of behavioral changes and most of them are normal. However, if the signs above occur—especially alongside any other signs of drug and alcohol abuse—it may be time to seek professional help before things spiral out of control.

At Muir Wood, we can help. Contact us at the phone number above and learn more about our drug rehabilitation program for teen boys and how we can help your son begin the healing process now.