It’s every parent’s nightmare. Drug abuse is a growing problem in many areas of society and, with the easy availability of narcotics, alcohol, cigarettes and other substances, the temptations facing young people are bigger than they’ve ever been.
Particularly when kids get older and become more independent, it can be difficult to keep track of what they are doing. It can be a worrying time for parents and a potentially dangerous time for young adults.
Addictions like drug abuse can grow very quickly but spotting the signs can be a challenge. After all, many of these indicators such as lack of communication and mood swings are often typical ways in which adolescents behave, as many parents will testify. It’s easier with drugs like cigarettes where you can smell the smoke on clothes or alcohol when you can smell it on the breath.
But what about drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and even heroin?
The list of potential triggers and symptons to look out for can make you scratch your head in bemusement – just take this one from Partnership for Drug Free Kids. It gives over 50 different signs from behavioural changes to health problems and everything in between.
During the initial stages of suspected drug taking, many parents will back off thinking that this is some kind of rites of passage thing that will blow over once their kid has grown up a little. Changes you might notice in your child are:
Trust Your Instincts
If you think something is not quite right then, as a parent, you’re probably going to be right. There’s no point in telling yourself you are being stupid and that gut reaction is often a warning sign that you need to pay closer attention:
On their own, most of these don’t mean much and certainly it doesn’t mean that your kid is abusing drugs. The problem is that addiction can grow quite quickly especially in young people and soon become ingrained and affect them into adulthood.
Is it Really a Problem?
In a recent survey, almost 60% of US teenagers didn’t see the regular use of marijuana as harmful. More surprisingly, 50% of senior students didn’t see the harm in trying crack once or twice. Kids and adolescents are hot wired to try new things and there may be any number of reasons why they start using drugs:
What to Do if You Suspect Your Kid is Taking Drugs
These problems are better handled as soon as possible. It may be that your kid is just experimenting with new things and will soon move on. But drug abuse and addiction can grab hold of someone and letting the situation continue is not really an option. At some point there has to be a conversation and perhaps a confrontation.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed so make sure you do your research as much as possible. If there are parent groups that focus on drug issues in your local area, then go and visit them. This is not about being judgemental and moralistic that your precious loved one has suddenly started using drugs. It’s about being supportive and helping them move on from this period in their lives.
Read our guide to helping a loved one with a drug addiction here.