Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teenage Drug Abuse - Warning Signs

August, 17 2009

Here are some very important warning signs to watch for if your teenager or someone you know might be abusing drugs. For more information on warning signs and what to do if a teenager/tween is abusing substances refer to the website below or call us at our toll free number.

At Intervention 911 each case is unique and if your even a little suspicious that your teen or someone you love is abusing drugs or alcohol call us at 1-800-905-7655 for a free consultation with one of our professional Interventionist. Getting involved and stopping the cycle of addiction could save the life of a teenager!

Information from the US Drug Enforcement Agency
By: Barbara Poncelet

How Can You Recognize the Signs of Substance Abuse?

Parents provides general signs of substance abuse and also gives specific signs of alcohol abuse, and several different drugs, narcotics, and inhalants. The general warning signs are:

• Changes in friends
• Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades
• Increased secrecy about possessions or activities
• Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors
• Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language
• Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use
• Increase in borrowing money
• Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.
• Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories
• Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils
• New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol
• Missing prescription drugs—especially narcotics and mood stabilizers

Remember, these are very general signs, specific drugs, narcotics, and other substances may have different signs, it is important to read the specific signs.

What Steps Should a Parent Take?

Should I monitor my child?

Monitoring is an effective way you can help your teen or tween stay drug-free, and an important thing to do — even if you don't suspect your teen is using drugs. The idea of "monitoring" your tween or teen may sound sinister, but it's actually a very simple idea that leads to great things: You know where your child is at all times (especially after school), you know his friends, and you know his plans and activities. ….Because monitoring conflicts with your child's desire to be independent, he is likely to resist your attempts to find out the details of his daily whereabouts. Don't let this deter you from your goal. He may accept the idea more easily if you present it as a means of ensuring safety or interest in who he is and what he likes to do, rather than as a means of control. You need to be prepared for your child's resistance — because the rewards of monitoring are proven. …The most important time of day to monitor is after school from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Kids are at the greatest risk for abusing drugs during these hours….
If I know my child is using drugs, should I alert the principal or the guidance counselor -- or try to keep the information from the people at school?

Before discussing the situation with anyone at the school, it can help to seek assistance from a professional who has experience with adolescent substance use, such as a mental health professional, family therapist, pediatrician or family physician, substance use counselor, or employee assistance professional. Ask for an in-person evaluation with your child, or a meeting to discuss your concerns and get advice about how to proceed. Perhaps counseling, a support group, or a treatment program is warranted. If your child refuses help and continues to use substances, contacting the school is an option, but should be used with great caution. School officials want to keep alcohol and other drugs off school premises, and ensure that students are not coming to school high or using during school. They are required to punish students who violate these rules by suspending or expelling them. Notifying the school about your teen’s behavior will likely put them on a ‘to be watched’ list. Other times the school is the immediate source of feedback on problems – drugs or alcohol found in lockers or used during the school day, etc. and you’ll need to speak with someone at the school right away. The school may have resources available to help, such as a staff substance abuse counselor who can work with your child. For some teens, this strategy can be very positive -- school authorities’ monitoring can give you concrete help in keeping a child with a problem on track in changing his behavior. Some children, however, need to suffer serious consequences before they will seek or accept help.
Should I try to make my teen give up friends?

It is very difficult to get teens to give up their friends. However, you can express your concerns. Tell your child what it is about the friend that worries you. Support developing a variety of friends and not relying too much on any one. Remember that teen drug use is basically a social behavior. If you know certain friends of theirs are using substances, minimize your child’s social contact with those friends by not giving them car rides, allowing visits or sleepovers with them or attendance at parties where they will be involved. This will send a strong message to your own child about how seriously you take health risks of substances.
On the other hand, go out of your way to encourage and facilitate your child’s contact with any friends who you believe are not using substances. These ties can be all incredibly important support for a child trying to change his behavior.
What limits should I set?

Work at setting limits only on behaviors you can control. For example, a rule that a teen cannot smoke pot is nearly impossible to enforce, but a rule that says a teen who gets caught smoking pot will be grounded or cannot use the family car for a month is one that you can enforce.
What should the penalties be for violation of those limits?

Choose consequences that can be applied without expressing a lot of critical or angry feelings. Parents frequently be¬tray their sense of helplessness by resorting to angry outbursts that are much more punitive than a consequence administered without anger or rage. A relatively short-term punishment carried out to the letter is much more effective than a long-term punishment that parents eventually ignore because they feel guilty. Make sure the penalties can be enforced by you on a practical basis – if they involve supervision or monitoring, change them for times you can be there.
If your child continues to violate limits, impose more severe consequences.

www.intervention911.com / 1-800-905-7655

Another helpful resource is Alateen:

Blog posted by: Ken Seeley - Founder – Intervention 911

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