It is absolutely paralyzing to learn that your child has substance abuse issues. Where do you turn for help? How do you know what steps to take? What is addiction, anyway? There are endless questions and no consolidation source of answers or support. In addition, the stigma of having an addicted child causes many parents to retract and withdraw rather than seek help. In truth, many families struggle with substance abuse issues, and the support, wisdom and guidance they need are not easily found.Parent Pathway was created for parents, by parents, to provide a place to find peace of mind at a time when their world feels like it is falling apart.
One of the biggest concerns for parents with teens is the experimentation and abuse of addictive substances. During adolescence, teens face many social and emotional obstacles as they grow and learn how to face the challenges that walk hand in hand with growing up. As they face these challenges, it is normal for teens to become more emotional and independent, but for parents it can sometimes be hard to differentiate teenage moodiness from signs of substance abuse. If left unrecognized for too long, substance abuse can worsen and the results can be deadly. It is crucial that parents and guardians quickly identify and respond to the specific factors that could be the result of drug or alcohol misuse.
General signs to look out for:
Evidence of drug or alcohol paraphernalia, such as empty alcohol bottles, pipes, syringes, rolling papers, lighters, etc
- Problems at school such as: skipping school, missing classes, severe drop in grades, violent or disruptive behavior
- Extreme efforts to restrain family members from entering their rooms
- Amplified efforts to hide their whereabouts, new friends, activities or where they go with their friends
- Drastic changes in behavior: lack of energy, motivation, or concentration, avoidance and distancing, uncooperative
- Excessive use of room deodorizers or incense to hide smoke or odors
- Increase in borrowing money without reasonable explanations, missing money or other items, or stealing
- The signs and symptoms of substance abuse vary depending on the type of substance; you may be able to determine if a teen is abusing a specific drug by identifying the physical and behavioral symptoms associated with the specific drug
Signs of Use
- Red eyes
- Slowed reaction time
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased appetite
- Reduced coordination
- Lack of concentration
Cocaine, Methamphetamine (Meth), Ritalin, and Other Amphetamines
- Rapid speech
- Lack of sleep
- Severe weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Damage to the mucous membrane of the nose
Opiates (pain pills, heroin)
- Severe weight loss, loss of appetite
- Pinpoint pupils
- Aggression and anger
- “Nodding off” or falling asleep in the middle of a conversation
- Mood swings
- Suppression of breathing, followed by death
Ecstasy (MDMA), Rohypnol (Roofies), GHB
- Amplified feelings of happiness
- Amphetamine-like symptoms
- Poor judgment
- Heightened senses
- Rohypnol and GHB
- Loss of consciousness
- Can result in seizures, coma and death
Early acknowledgment and response are necessary for parents and guardians to save teens from engaging in substance abuse. Substance abuse can lead to more severe drugs, addiction, and even death if action is not taken.
A Place of Hope’s Center for Counseling and Health Resources provides help for those who seek addiction treatments for drug and alcohol dependency, depression, or issues relating to gambling, food, pornography and more. Dr. Gregory Jantz and his team of addiction medical professionals, psychologists, nutritionists and fitness trainers help address the physical, psychological and spiritual problems that are behind the symptoms. Please visit online at A Place of Hope.
It seems that when you have traveled the journey of addiction with your loved one over a period of time, you begin to have a sixth sense when things are beginning to falter. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but I could tell when something was off. Sometimes it was a lack of contact, sometimes it was a particular attitude while talking, and sometimes it was just a feeling. I remember being in one of those modes where I knew something was unraveling. It was as simple as a mention of some new friends – some in recovery, some not, some struggling in their addiction. While I wanted to coach, persuade, and convince her to hang tight to those in recovery, I knew she would follow her own path. I knew I was powerless over what she decided to do.
While I can speculate the chain of events that can lead to ‘unraveling’, it is futile. And it is always a lesson for me just as much as for her. What could I do to ward off impending doom? How could I convince her to stay focused? When should I actively intervene? The answers were simple: nothing, can’t and shouldn’t. I have one job – to ‘mind my own business.’ It doesn’t mean that if she asks for my advice that I shouldn’t give it – I pray for those opportunities for they give me the false notion that I can control something in her life! But they also give me comfort that she wants to engage in healthy discussions. But, Alas, she does not always ask for my advice, she lives her life on her terms. And I am constantly learning to be a bystander in order to help her to continue to learn and grow.