"The COVID-19 pandemic has created obstacles for adolescents in recovery from substance misuse. Directions to avoid social contact and the closing of schools, extracurricular activities and support group meetings has created an environment where critical resources for recovery are not available.
What should parents look for regarding possible substance use issues in adolescents and young adults during quarantine?
Extreme mood swings can be an indicator that use is occurring. Extreme mood swings can come out as anger, irritation, frustration, sadness, increased depression, heightened anxiety and difficulty being by themselves. These feelings can be exasperated by the continued use or withdrawal from substance(s).
A hallmark symptom of substance use is social and emotional isolation. This may also look like excessive sleeping during the day and avoiding responsibilities within the home. For most teens, being alone with themselves is the last place they want to be. This can lead to impulsive and erratic behaviors to avoid loneliness
Adolescents may also continue to insist on going out to be with friends despite the stay-at-home order and parents not giving permission.
there is a difference between what is to be expected from teens and what is excessive. It is a normal response for adolescents to ask to hang out with their friends and argue that online connections (through social media or FaceTime) are not enough. What is not a normal response is when adolescents smile and nod, claim that they accept the limit, and leave anyway. Or, if they engage in frequent arguments that escalate to shouting matches.
It is critical to maintain structure and connection with recovery resources during this difficult time. The recovery community has established a virtual meeting system to ensure that people in recovery still have access to their support groups.