How To Recognize Addiction in Your Child
Alcohol, drug and tobacco use amongst teens is more prevalent today than ever. Studies suggest that up to 75% of high school students have tried alcohol, tobacco, legal drugs or illicit drugs and that 20% of those kids are full blown addicts.
Peer pressure can often be the antecedent to drug use. The earlier a child is introduced to habit-forming substances, the more likely they are to become career addicts.The average age of introductory marijuana use is 14 and it is not uncommon for children to use alcohol as early as 12 years old.
It's not uncommon to hear people suggest that it's "normal" for teens to experiment with drugs however, there is nothing conventional about seeking out illegal substances then proceeding to ingest, snort, smoke or inject it into your body. It can be dangerous to ignore warnings and risk factors by dismissing them because "kids will be kids".
Reasons A Child Might Use Drugs, Alcohol, or Tobacco
In addition to peer pressure, other reasons a child may use drugs, tobacco and alcohol are:
- Family history of alcohol and drug abuse
- Abusive parents or family members
- Little or no parent supervision
- No parent communication
- Severe parental discipline
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Thrill seeking behavior
- Depression or other mood disorders
- Self-esteem issues
- Feeling of being out-cast
Abuse and Addiction Risk Factors
Things that you should consider if you believe that your child might be using drugs are:
- Does your child display repeated physical fatigue or sleepiness? Does he or she spend an excessive amount of time sleeping or in bed?
- Does your child have red, glassy eyes? Over time this is often accompanied with a gray or purple shade around the eye.
- Does your child have a persisting cough or wheeze which sounds asthmatic?
- Does your child seem moody, depressed and uninterested? Is her or she making decisions that are more irresponsible than a normal teenager would make such as a dangerous or life-threatening decision?
- Does your child have a sudden negative interest in family and school? Is he or she skipping classes and displaying unruly behaviors?
- Has your child recently changed peer groups and school activities? Has he or she changed the style in which they dress or the music they listen to?
It is important to note that because your child displays one or two of these warning signs does not mean that drug abuse is imminent. These warning signs may be indicative of other or additional mental health issues. If you are concerned that there are underlying medical, physical or psychopathy issues it is always best to consult a physician or psychiatrist.
How Can I Help My Child
Experts agree that the first and best way to help your child is through proper guidance, communication, being a superb role model and being absolutely aware of what is going on in your child's life at all times. Ways to achieve those characteristics are:
- Speak openly with your child about the realities of drugs, alcohol, tobacco use and the repercussions they all carry.
- Keep your child busy with activities that are productive such as athletics, music, art, theater, summer school, camp, horse back riding, fencing, robotics, graphic design or any type of activity that will keep their mind focused off of negative behavior.
- Make sure that your child is doing well at school. If a child feels that he is failing in school, he may develop poor self esteem.
- Establish clear guidelines and consequences for breaking rules and follow through when rules are broken. This includes kids of all ages - teens as well.
- Love unconditionally and don't judge when your child makes a mistake because it's inevitable that they will. If your child does have an infraction, use it as a learning experience as opposed to a third world war and as soon as it's resolved, let it go.
Where Can I Get Professional Help For My Child?
- National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center | National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
National alcohol substance abuse information center lists the best alcohol rehab and drug rehab treatment centers in the US.
- Welcome: CoDA Home Page
- Kids Against Drugs
Kids Against Drugs Network LLC delivers the only family drug-prevention education program with the handbook