Wholeness Healing Today

Summer Days/Summer Nights and Substance Abuse

Summer is here. It is always met with enthusiasm by youth. Adolescents in particular enjoy the idea of a break from school work and school activities. They see free time in the summer as a way to gain more freedom and look forward to ‘hanging out’ with their friends any spare moment that they can. It is time of relaxing and recharging their batteries for the next school year of busy schedules, both academically and socially. Kids romanticize times at the river together with other peers, driving on the country roads at night and “howling at the moon” just for the carefree feeling of it all. Along with those excitements come increased opportunities to be exposed to alcohol and drugs. More freedom to teens mean less time under the watchful eye of school personnel and working parents.

It is important that throughout the summer, parents take notice of some signs of substance use in your ‘celebrating the summer’ teens. Due to their lack of life experience, teens often do not realize the problem with “experimenting” with substances. Experience is defined as ‘trying something one time to know how you feel about that activity’. A toddler does not need to “experiment” with touching a hot stove more than once to know if he/she likes the sensation. Someone only needs to experiment one time using a mind altering chemical to know whether or not he/she likes the sensation of it. Please be open to the idea that your youth may, in a moment of being dared or curious, try a drug or alcohol to “experiment” with the sensation. If you know that he/she has gone back a second time to use again, he/she has already crossed the line into substance abuse. The following information contains signs and symptoms that one might recognize with a youth who is using substances.

Careless about appearance
Sleepy and short attention span
Nervous or jumpy behavior
Odd sweet smell hanging on clothes or hair
Increased and frequent use of cologne and breath mints
Increased and frequent use of air freshener or incense in room, basement or car
Wears long sleeves or a ‘hoodie’ even in the summer
Difficulty sleeping or up for long periods of time
Rapid weight loss

Loss of ambition
Change in personal value system or boundaries
Low morale or depression
Increased frustration
Unpredictable mood swings
Unreasonable anger and mistrust toward parents and /or other authority figures
Unusual secretive behavior
Frequent requests to spend the night with friends, increased anger when you say “no”

Although youths want freedom in the summer, the need to increase their accountability becomes important. When they come home for the night, make sure you are waiting up for them and hug them before going to bed. A quick hug can often alert you to any physical signs of alcohol or drugs. It is difficult to think that you may have to look for signs of substance abuse in your teens when you have not suspected them in the past. However, sadly enough, there is a war on drugs that each parent is battling. The war does not always begin in a foreign country or another city or state, it begins right in your own neighborhood and back yard. As parents, just become more informed and continue to be observant.

Tags: ,


  • Licensed Mental Health Practitioner
    Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor

  • Dorothy Molczyk, LMHP LADC, provides individual, family and group therapy at Wholeness Healing Center. She is experienced in serving children, adolescents and adults. Her areas of specialty include substance abuse/dependency, healing from traumatic events, recovering from loss, and behavior disorders in children and adolescents.


Subscribe today

Sign up to receive the latest mental health tips and inspiration

If you have a question, click below and receive prompt confidential help

Ask A Question