Children and in particular teenagers may be involved with a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. Experimenting with a variety of drugs is common.
Using alcohol and tobacco at a young age increases the chances of using other drugs later. Some will try them, some will use occasionally but unfortunately others will develop a dependency and cause harm to themselves. Twelve is now the age when children begin to try alcohol and marijuana.
Teens use drugs for a variety of reasons: curiosity; because it feels good; to reduce stress; to feel grown up; to fit in. Drug use includes* alcohol; tobacco; prescribed medications; inhalants; over-the-counter cough, cold and sleep medications; stimulants; marijuana; club drugs; depressants; heroin and steroids.
* Drug identification information can be found on the Waterloo Regional Police Service website, www.wrps.on.ca/community-connections/drug-education/drug-identification
Who is at risk?
Teenagers that are at risk of developing serious alcohol and drug problems include those:
- With a family history of substance abuse
- Who are depressed
- Who have low self-esteem
- Who feel like they don’t fit in
Warning Signs of Substance Abuse
Physical – health complaints, red and glazed eyes, lasting cough, fatigue
Emotional – personality change, mood swings, irritable, irresponsible behaviour, poor judgement, low self-esteem, depression, general lack of interest
Family – starts arguments, negative attitude, breaks rules, withdrawal from family, secretive
School – decreased interest, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, truancy, discipline problems
Social – new friends who are not interested in school or family and make poor decisions, problems with police, changes in clothing and music
Early education is critical and is often received at school. Professional consultation with a mental health professional is also crucial. No one treatment is the answer. All the individual’s needs must be met, not just the substance abuse, since the substance abuse is usually a symptom of a more serious issue, such as depression.
Useful resources/links for ADDICTIONS/SUBSTANCE ABUSE:
Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics and Alateen Kitchener-Waterloo – 519-896-5678