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Teen Info About Drugs, Alchohol and Addiction

Updated on September 2, 2012
krsharp05 profile image

Kristi graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Human Development and Developmental Psychopathology of Children.

Rachael Christine Schlingmann  9/21/88 - 8/10/12   (with author)
Rachael Christine Schlingmann 9/21/88 - 8/10/12 (with author) | Source

What is Addiction?

The definition of addiction is the repeated use of a substance or participation in behavior for immediate gratification. People with severe addictions struggle with delaying their need for gratification and have very little tolerance for frustration.

Addictions can be behavioral or chemical. Regardless of the type of addiction, it is important that the dependent person recognize whether or not there is a problem and seek appropriate help before the dependency becomes catastrophic.

Examples of Chemical Addictions

  • alcohol
  • marijuana/hash
  • cocaine
  • crystal meth
  • heroin
  • crack cocaine
  • tobacco
  • prescription medications (Vicodin, Xanax, Dilaudid, Ritalin)
  • ecstasy
  • PCP
  • inhalants
  • cough medicine
  • ketamine

Examples of Behavioral Addictions

  • gambling
  • overeating
  • shopping
  • anorexia
  • bulimia
  • exercising
  • cutting
  • video games
  • sex

When Does it Become an Addiction?

It's very common for dependent people to use drugs or alcohol or participate in behaviors and deny that they have an addiction. They believe they are still able to fully function in their lives. What makes the behavior an addiction is when it goes from something a person experiences now and then to being absolutely counter productive to their life because they engage in it repeatedly and consistently. For some people this can happen in a very short amount of time.

It is also a common misconception that if the dependent person feels they can "control" their dependency they don't fall into the addict category. Not true. The ability to control the amount of chemical intake and exactly the amount of time by which a person consumes their chemical of choice, only means that they can quantify what they ingest. It creates a "functional addict." This is a dangerous and careful combination because people can go for years living with an addiction that is destroying their body from the inside out.

Black tar heroin
Black tar heroin | Source
Effects of crystal meth known as "meth mouth"
Effects of crystal meth known as "meth mouth" | Source

How Can I Recognize Addiction?

As a parent or as the dependent person, you always want to be aware of the dangers of addiction. There are many signs to look for. Some are obvious and others you need to look closer to recognize.

  1. Sudden change in weight loss or gain
  2. Dark or red circles around their eyes
  3. Extreme mood changes
  4. Changes in sleeping habits - not sleeping for days at a time
  5. Persistent cough
  6. Seeming ill or shaky at times
  7. Abnormal bruises on arms
  8. Needle marks
  9. Poor memory
  10. Slow reaction time
  11. Slurred speech
  12. Confusion
  13. Paranoia
  14. Incomprehensible chatter
  15. Hallucinations
  16. Tremors
  17. Panic
  18. Violence
  19. Drug paraphernalia and/or drugs
  20. Alcohol
  21. Lying
  22. Stealing

It is important to note that this is not a means of diagnosis but a useful guide. If you feel there might be a problem, you should seek professional medical help for an addiction diagnosis.

Holly and Brittany Schlingmann Duet

Addiction Facts for Parents

Be persistent in recognizing addiction. It is a serious problem that cannot be overlooked. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 25% of people who abuse prescription medication began using at age 13 or younger and kids are trying alcohol as early as age 11.

If you believe that your child might be suffering with addiction, seek immediate medical attention. Don't attempt to handle the situation yourself. It's best to allow trained professionals to diagnose and if necessary, treat the problem. Addiction is often the result of underlying emotional issues so your supporting role should be one of recovery. It may be the difficult choice but oppositely, enabling the behavior is no different than feeding the addiction.

Liquor bottles
Liquor bottles | Source

Have you ever struggled with addiction?

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Surviving Addiction

The good news is, there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel of addiction. While there is no cure, there is recovery. The best place to begin your journey is in a professional rehabilitation program where professional caregivers can guide you through the recovery process.

  1. The most important step in recovery is recognizing the problem. Every rehabilitation program that exists will confirm that taking responsibility for your own actions is important. The great thing is, you are the master of your own ship and you can steer it in any direction you choose, so choose wisely.
  2. Break the ties that bind you to your negative behaviors. If you run with a crowd that engages in problematic behaviors it's best to make new friends. Although you believe that they are your "besties", if they truly cared for your well being they would not be your comrade in shooting up heroin. They would be finding ways to help you recover.
  3. Change your environment. If the people you work with are the one's you are drinking with every night or your constant source of drugs, find a new job. It's dangerously tempting to stay in an atmosphere that you once found so delicious and enjoyable.
  4. Find a reliable and sturdy source of support. Someone or some people who will not be judgmental but will be there for you 24/7.
  5. Start fresh. Make short term goals and long term goals and recognize what you are passionate about. Take it one day at a time and congratulate yourself when you achieve your goals.
  6. If you relapse, don't consider it a failure. 8 out of 10 addicts relapse so you are not alone.
  7. Have a plan. Recovery is forever. There is no cure for addiction so you will have moments of weakness. When those moments arrive, be prepared. Decide what you will say or do. Know how you will handle the situation.
  8. Let go of the past. You cannot change what happened to arrive at this moment but you can control every choice you make from this moment on.
  9. There are some types of help that you just don't say "NO" to. When someone who truly loves you reaches out to help, accept it. Don't allow shame or guilt to get in the way because the person who is trying to help you didn't see those emotions when they offered their loving support.
  10. Don't give up. No matter what you believe, there is always someone who loves you and cares about your well being. You don't have to fight this war alone.
  11. Renew your faith. Restore your inner peace. Build a mantra. Learn to live again.

In Dedication to My Sweet Sister. I love you Sis.
In Dedication to My Sweet Sister. I love you Sis.


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    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 4 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      DREAM ON, Thank you so much for the comment. I think that a lot of people think they can handle it and I know my sister thought she could. Looking back at her downward spiral I would sure do things a lot differently - like yank her out of her own demise but the whole hindsight phenomenon is really haunting. I appreciate your insight and encouragement. -K

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 4 years ago

      You have hit home.I have a family member who struggles with alchohol addiction and for years they thought they could handle it.It was not the case and their world will be forever changed.All I can do is offer my support and love but it never seems enough.Thanks for teaching and caring.The world needs more people like you.So sorry for your loss.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      MsDora, thank you for reading and commenting. Hopefully this information will be useful to someone. Thank you for the positive votes. -K

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      NotPC, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. The photos are a little bit disquieting - I appreciate your vote. -K

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Voted Up and Useful. I'm please that after all the information and explanations, you shared some hope.

    • NotPC profile image

      NotPC 5 years ago

      Wow... Some of those pictures really shocked me! I'm gonna have to quit the meth asap! JK! But for real, great article. I liked the way you presented the information to make it applicable to teenagers. Voted Up!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      spartucus, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. This subject obviously hits close to home for me. My sister referred to her struggle as the devil and I think in many ways it truly was. I appreciate the thoughts and prayers, I'm going to need them. :) Thank you for being here. -K

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Very practical hub which potentially could help a lot of people. It good to be aware of the signs of addictions so we can know when a love one is suffering. Also timely tips to help those who are struggling with addictions to successfully deal with those demons.

      Also a beautiful tribute to your beautiful sister. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      teaches, thank you very much. If it changes the path of just one person, it will have served the purpose I had hoped. I appreciate your always great comments. -K

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I voted this one way up because it is so helpful in knowing how to help teens. I am sure parents will take heed and follow through with the suggestions and advice you posted. Thanks for the knowledge shared.