One of the most frightening experience parents can face is the discovery of drug and alcohol use by their child. This can happen to even the very best parents out there. Drug and alcohol abuse are serious issues which require immediate intervention. Early detection can ensure a less complicated recovery process. Prolonged drug or alcohol use can lead to disruptive or even antisocial behaviors, criminal activity, and the abuse of more dangerous drugs.
There can be many reasons for children turning to drugs or alcohol. Peer pressure can certainly be influential; but usually there are underlying reasons which made the child susceptible to the peer pressure and willing to try drug or alcohol consumption in the first place. Children who are victims of bullying by peers, or who suffer from shyness may seek out drugs or alcohol as a refuge. The use of drugs and alcohol may also make him or her feel more accepted socially.
Identifying the problem is the first step in getting help for your child in a drug addiction treatment program. The most common outward signs of drug or alcohol use are:
· Mood swings – Pre-teens and teens experience a lot of mood swings as their bodies develop; but if your child moves quickly from very happy feelings to great anger, there’s a good reason to investigate further. Expressed paranoid feelings may also raise a red flag.
· New friends – The arrival of new friends without an association to your child’s current circle can be a warning sign. This can be especially true if you should also notice a change in your child’s behavior.
· Trouble at school – If your child’s grades have worsened, or there are sudden patterns of behavior problems, truancy or lateness, he or she may be using.
· Major personality changes – If your child becomes withdrawn, secretive, combative, listless, forgetful, or lethargic, he or she may be using.
· Changes in eating habits – A general loss of interest in eating, or increased interest may be equally notable. Look for sudden weight loss or gain.
· Changes in sleeping habits or schedule – major increases in sleep time or insomnia can be signs of alcohol or drug abuse.
· Unusual appearance – Red or bloodshot eyes, appearing hung over or listless may indicate substance abuse.
Once your child is in a drug addiction treatment program, the underlying issues can be addressed to prevent a return to bad habits. Behavioral counseling will help your child identify the causes of their self-destructive behavior, and to learn to deal with them in a healthier way. As much love, understanding, and acceptance as you can give will be needed to help in the healing process.