SPOTTING AN ADDICT

Knowing a child’s addictions or discovering your child is addicted can be a pretty tedious task as some normal teenage behaviors can be hard to distinguish from symptoms of substance use. Moodiness, rebellion and changes in interests are common in adolescence and not necessarily signs of a problem. Parents and friends will therefore have to look for multiple signs of addiction, beyond normal teenage behavior in this age group. Addiction is pervasive and hence influences all areas of an individual’s life.

Below are some signs and clues to know if your child is an addict;

  1. PHYSICAL CLUES

Addiction has an effect on every area of a person’s life. The behavioral changes in the life of an addict are often the first signs of a problem that loved ones notice. Parents are usually the first to sense a problem, even if you may not know what it is. Therefore, watch out for habits, more than one and persistent over time, such as;

  • Change in eating habits and unexplained weight loss or gain.
  • Inability to sleep or wake up at usual times.
  • Red or watery eyes, pupils larger or smaller than normal, blank stare, sniffing all time.
  • Excessive sweating, tremors or shakes.
  • Cold, sweaty palms, or shaking hands; nausea or vomiting.
  • Extreme hyperactivity or excessive talkativeness for previously reserved children.
  • Extreme silence, withdrawal and always behind closed doors for a child that was very social before.
  • SUDDEN AND SUSTAINED EMOTIONAL CHANGES
  • Loss of interest in the family
  • Signs of paranoia (an unusual feeling that people do not like you and are trying to harm you).
  • Being overly secretive or hiding behind locked doors.
  • General lack of motivation, energy and self esteem.
  • Chronic dishonesty and lying.
  • Moodiness, irritability (easily annoyed), nervousness.

These can become so severe that you do not recognize your child anymore and experience feelings of loss.

  •  A PATTERN OF CHANGES IN SCHOOL ATTENDANCE, GRADES AND FRIENDS.
  1. Changes in the child’s behavior in school as most schools do not have the resources to identify this.
  2. Tardiness (lateness and slow in reaction) and attendance problem.
  3. Inattentiveness in class and a drop in grades.

Always try and talk to the school directly, addicts can be very cunning and secretive. Watch out for changes in circle of friends and activities, most addicts get into addictions because of their new found friends. Watch for any change in friends and acquaintances, addicts will never bring their friends who are bad home, they do not introduce their fellow addicts to family but they rather keep secret friends and wouldn’t want people know about it.

  •  SEVERAL INSTANCES OF UNACCOUNTABLE MONEY OR ITEMS OR LOSS OF MONEY.

All addicts have itches and a great urge to attain satisfaction, it is a function of the brain command and they must have to respond to it, don’t blame them entirely, so in a bid to respond to the demands of their brain on the body, they can go extra miles. Addicts may not still because they are kleptomaniac except those with such addiction), but rather because they have an insatiable need to meet. When you start noticing loss of money, items, drugs missing from the medicine cabinet, food or beverages both alcoholic and non alcoholic missing from their safe places, then this is a very loud alarm, especially if this is consistent enough.

At such stage, be on the watch and don’t jump into any conclusions yet, study the pattern of loss, it may be daily, weekly, monthly or as the case may be. Don’t hurriedly accuse anyone but if possible, set traps and catch red handed or in the act. Drug abusers will always look out for their stuffs in every nook and cranny of the house, they know almost all brands of that particular substance because they’re fully into it.

Most drug dealers deal with and become dealers of inexplicable source of income, so make sure you can account for every and any source of income or money found on your child, it is very important. Most of them live under the pretense of getting it from friends and relations, don’t stop at that, investigate the source; this will expose you to the reality of things going on in your home.

Kleptomaniacs steals from parents and siblings, they even steal from shops and malls, this has to be arrested earlier before disgrace comes in. if you notice your child with new stuffs and clothing that you didn’t buy, and you know he/she doesn’t work, then get to the root of the source of that thing, it may just be stolen or the money used for the purchase stolen as the case may be.

Also, when your child always claims to lose money given to him/her or when sent on an errand to buy anything, he/she always lose money, that money may be going in for something else, and definitely something obscure.

There are very many pattern to addictions and as such different people have different types of behavior exhibited when they are addicted, all-in-all, addiction can be noticed in an individual when there is a deviation from normal pattern which is not as a result of growth. Be careful to strike a difference between changes in a child’s character due to growth and changes due to an addiction, the line of difference is very thin but the latter is persistent, strong and more consistent than the former. Character due to growth is chiefly due to reaction to changes within the body by differences or changes in the chemicals within us, similar to addiction which is also due to chemicals within the body, but for the case of growth, a balance in this level of chemicals to normalcy is struck in a lesser time than for addiction, hence we have to be very watchful.

  • UNCHARACTERISTIC CHANGES IN MOOD OR PERSONALITY

An addicted youth is almost always prone to depression due to dependency, so he/she goes down with depression and other mental health issues like anxiety, mood swings, anger, rage etc.

The challenge is that, most times you may mistaken a substance abuse for a mental ailment caused by an evil spirit as they both affect same thing, the brain. Depression or anxiety can be caused by a child’s drug or substance abuse; on the other hand, it could be the reason the child is using the drug in the first place. Chaos at home can push children to abuse and therefore addiction, so as we spot their addictions, lets also make sure we are not a contributing factor to it. It is possible the child was first depressed and was unnoticed due to less show of concern by family and friends; this could have come from a broken home, relationship, failure, bullying etc, before using the substance or indulging in the act which eventually became a habit.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Hmm! An I DON’ T CARE attitude towards siblings, kids and friends have actually resulted to menaces in the society.
    We need to give more time, care and interest towards people around us inorder to curb addiction.

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