PlusFour Solutions: Guidance through Assessment

Emotional and Behavioral Assessment

Substance Abuse

People use drugs for many reasons; including curiosity, because it feels good, to reduce stress, to feel grown up or to fit in. Using alcohol and tobacco at a young age increases the risk of using other drugs later and it is difficult to predict which individuals will experiment and stop and which will develop serious problems. Unfortunately, because they often feel indestructible and think that serious consequences couldn’t happen to them, many children and teenagers often don’t see the link between their actions today and the consequences tomorrow.

Who Is At Risk?
Individuals at risk for developing serious alcohol and drug problems include those:

  • With a family history of substance abuse
  • Who are depressed
  • Who have low self-esteem
  • Who feel like they don’t fit in or are out of the mainstream

Drug use is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including increased risk of serious drug use later in life, school failure, and poor judgment which may put teens at risk for accidents, violence, unplanned and unsafe sex, and suicide.

Teens and Pre-Teens Abuse
A variety of drugs, legal and illegal:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • OxyContin
  • Inhalants
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)
  • GHB
  • LSD
  • Heroin
  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • Marijuana
  • Stimulants
  • Rohypnol (Rophies)
  • Ketamine
  • Steroids
  • Methamphetamine
  • Over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep, and diet medications

Warning Signs of Pre-Teen & Teen Substance Abuse


  • starting
  • arguments
  • negative attitude
  • breaking rules
  • withdrawing from family
  • secretiveness


  • personality change
  • sudden mood changes
  • irritability
  • irresponsible behavior
  • low self-esteem
  • poor judgment
  • depression
  • general lack of interest


  • fatigue
  • repeated health complaints
  • red and glazed eyes
  • lasting cough
Social Problems

  • new friends who make poor decisions and are not interested in school or family activities
  • problems with the law
  • changes to less conventional styles in dress and music


  • decreased interest
  • negative attitude
  • drop in grades
  • many absences
  • truancy
  • discipline problems

Additional information about Substance Abuse: