Top 10 Side Effects of Drug Abuse in Young Men

The use and abuse of alcohol and drugs is unfortunately something many teenage boys see as a rite of passage. Yet the years of adolescence are some of the most critical in the development of the human body and mind. Consequently, excessive or even mild drug consumption during a man’s teenage years can have long-term effects on his physical as well as mental health.

Parents often believe they are on the lookout for signs of drug and alcohol abuse in their teens, but many aren’t sure what to look for, exactly. Besides the “smoking gun” of paraphernalia or substances discovered in a youth’s possession, few signals of drug and alcohol addiction are overt and obvious.

Experts in substance abuse science and drug rehabilitation agree that stress plays a major role in the development of drug and alcohol abuse and the perpetuating nature of substance abuse habits. Effective programs offering drug rehab for young men focus on dealing with the stress directly through various strategies, including equine therapy. The road to recovery, however, begins with identifying the problems in the first place.

Effects Drug Abuse Young Men

Being aware of the physical symptoms associated with substance abuse in young men is critical in beginning the process of recovery. Here are the top ten side effects of drug abuse parents need to be on the lookout for in their teenage boys:

Bloodshot Eyes

A common symptom of a number of substances, the most common of which are alcohol and marijuana. Bloodshot eyes can also be indicative of cocaine and meth use.

Runny Nose

The early stages of cocaine addiction are marked by an inflamed, runny nose combined with bloodshot eyes. If allergies or a bad cold are ruled out, look further into the matter.


Nosebleeds are a side effect of advanced cocaine use. By this point there should be several other symptoms present as well (see below).

Bad Oral Hygiene

Bad breath, discolored teeth, and gum disease may be signs of addiction to crystal meth or crack cocaine. Excessive alcohol use can also lead to poor dental health, however this takes longer to develop.

Sudden Seizures

Teenage boys without a history of epilepsy who suddenly develop seizures may be showing signs of substance abuse. Alcohol, cocaine, and heroin can, when used in heavy quantities, lead to seizures.

Stunted Growth

The use of steroids by teenagers poses tremendous risks to their physical and mental well being. In addition to the increased risk of developing psychosis, adolescent steroid users may also see inhibited physical development. Teenage boys showing signs of stunted height growth but brandishing impressive muscles may be using steroids.

Chronic Fatigue

Unexplained listlessness and recurrent bouts of exhaustion can be the sign of substance abuse issues. Whether it’s recently smoking marijuana, the “come-down” phase after a night of cocaine use, or the results of a bad hangover related to alcohol, habitual drowsiness in teens is commonly associated with some form of substance use.

Behavioral Changes

Emotional outbursts and other wild swings in a teenage boy’s mood are often the side effects of “growing pains” but can sometimes be the signs of something drug or alcohol related. Depression, anger issues, and other extremes which seem unexplained or otherwise sudden may be clues leading parents to a substance abuse problem.

Unexplained Weight Loss

The most dangerous narcotics on the planet have one thing in common: they tend to lead to extreme weight loss. These include heroin, cocaine, and meth. Unexplained weight loss in teenage boys should always be addressed. If it’s not drug related it may be something else worth having examined.

Many young men erroneously see drugs and alcohol as the portals to adulthood. This belief leads many teenage boys down a dark and troubling path of substance abuse at a time when their minds and bodies are most vulnerable to its long term effects. Parents can reduce the chance of their teenage boys developing permanent problems tomorrow by keeping an eye out for the acute symptoms today.