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Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences to the individual who is addicted and to those around them. Many people do not understand why individuals become addicted to drugs or how drugs change the brain to foster compulsive drug abuse. They mistakenly view drug abuse and addiction as strictly a social problem and may characterize those who take drugs as morally weak. One very common belief is that drug abusers should be able to just stop taking drugs if they are only willing to change their behavior. What people often underestimate is the complexity of drug addiction-that it is a disease that impacts the brain and because of that, stopping drug abuse is not simply a matter of willpower. Through scientific advances we now know much more about how exactly drugs work in the brain, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and resume their productive lives.
People who are suffering emotionally use drugs, not so much for the rush, but to escape from their problems. They are trying to self-medicate themselves out of loneliness, low self-esteem, unhappy relationships, or stress. This is a pattern that too often leads to drug abuse and addiction.
Drug abuse and addiction are a major burden to society. Drug awareness and drug testing are two of the most powerful deterrents in identifying and preventing teen drug abuse. These are the three criteria to consider when there is a problem of drug abuse in teens.
Clear communication by parents about the negative physical, emotional, and functional effects of drugs, as well as about their expectations regarding drug use have been found to significantly decrease substance abuse in teens. Adequate parental supervision has also been found to be a deterrent to drug use in youth. Specifically, parents knowing how, where, and with whom adolescents socialize, as well as limiting their children’s access to substances that can be abused have been associated with less teenage drug use. Limiting the amount of alcohol, cleaning solutions (inhalants), prescription, and over-the-counter medications that are kept in the home to amounts that can be closely monitored and accounted for has also been found to decrease substance abuse by teens.
How can you tell if your child is using drugs or alcohol? It is difficult because changes in mood or attitudes, unusual temper outbursts, changes in sleeping habits and changes in hobbies or other interests are common in teens. What should you look for? You can also look for signs of depression, withdrawal, carelessness with grooming or hostility. Also ask yourself, is your child doing well in school, getting along with friends, taking part in sports or other activities?
These changes often signal that something harmful is going on-and often that involves alcohol or drugs. You may want to take your child to the doctor and ask him or her about screening your child for drugs and alcohol. This may involve the health professional asking your child a simple question, or it may involve a urine or blood drug screen. However, some of these signs also indicate there may be a deeper problem with depression, gang involvement, or suicide. Be on the watch for these signs so that you can spot trouble before it goes too far.
In order for a parent to get their teen to be aware of the drug usage and identifying if their teen is involved in this matter, they have to do the following:
â€¢ Have The Talk – Let Them Know You Know
You should sit down and talk with your child. Be sure to have the conversation when you are all calm and have plenty of time. This isn’t an easy task-your feelings may range from anger to guilt that you have “failed” because your kid is using drugs. This isn’t true-by staying involved you can help his/her stop using and make choices that will make a positive difference in his/her life.
â€¢ Be Specific about Your Concerns
Tell your child what you see and how you feel about it. Be specific about the things you have observed that cause concern. Explain exactly how his/her behavior or appearance (bloodshot eyes, different clothing) has changed and why that worries you. Tell his/her that drug and alcohol use is dangerous and it’s your job to keep his/her away from things that put his/her in danger.
â€¢ Don’t Make Excuses
Although it’s natural for parents to make excuses for their child, you’re not helping him/her if you make excuses when he/she misses school or family functions when you suspect something else is at play. Take the next step: Talk to your child and get more information.
â€¢ Try to Remain Calm and Connect With Him/Her
Have this discussion without getting mad or accusing your child of being stupid or bad or an embarrassment to the family. Be firm but loving with your tone and try not to get hooked into an argument. Knowing that kids are naturally private about their lives, try to find out what’s going on in your child’s life. Try not to make the discussion an inquisition; simply try to connect with your teen and find out why he/she may be making bad choices. Find out if friends or others offered your child drugs at a party or school. Did he/she try it just out of curiosity, or did he/she use marijuana or alcohol for some other reason? That alone will be a signal to your child that you care and that you are going to be the parent exercising your rights.
Drug addiction is a preventable disease. Results from a research have shown that prevention programs that involve families, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse. Although many events and cultural factors affect drug abuse trends, when youths perceive drug abuse as harmful, they reduce their drug taking. It is necessary, therefore, to help youth and the general public to understand the risks of drug abuse, and for teachers, parents, and healthcare professionals to keep sending the message that drug addiction can be prevented if a person never abuses drugs.
Drug prevention generally begins in the following places and programs:
â€¢ Schools where drug education programs are initiated to children.
â€¢ Family focused abuse-prevention programs
â€¢ Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT)
â€¢ Multifamily educational intervention (MFE)
â€¢ Rehabilitation centers
Many programs lead to the “scare tactic” approach which usually does not work; it only leads to youth to wanting to try them anyway. New programs should be created which are more focused on speaking with the kids on their terms, not ours. Many of the speakers involved in the programs are former addicts themselves. They give a detailed account of their past experience with drugs leaving the child to form their own opinion of what drugs are like instead of telling them to “just say no”. Through these programs they will found out reasons why kids decide to quit using drugs (for those who are already using them), why they change their minds to not try or use drugs and why they believe so strongly to not use or try drugs. The programs also use a more appropriate amount of humor in their presentations. They found that children respond better to the light-heartedness of the issue, although they still know what a serious issue it is.
Prevention of drug use is a hard issue to face. There are several programs out there geared towards children and young adults to help them make the right decision on using or trying drugs.
Family focused abuse-prevention programs have produced reductions in adolescent drug abuse. Those who strongly identify with their communities and cultures have been found to be less likely to experience risk factors for using drugs compared to their peers who are less connected to their communities and cultures. Therefore, incorporation of a cultural component to drug abuse prevention programs may enhance the effectiveness of those programs. Moreover, teens 15 to 16 years old who use religion to cope with stress tend to use drugs significantly less often than their peers who do not use religion to cope.
The Institutes of Drug Abuse recommends that treatment of substance abuse: be readily available when the addicted person is ready to enroll; be tailored to the complex, multiple and changing needs (for example medical, mental health, social, legal, and family) of each individual; and consider the use of medication treatment when appropriate and include random drug testing. There are numerous individual treatments for drug addiction in teens. Relapse prevention uses methods for recognizing and amending problem behaviors. Individualized drug counseling specifically emphasizes short-term behavioral goals in an attempt to help the individual reduce or stop the use of drugs altogether. Some such programs include drug testing. Twelve-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous are individualized drug-counseling methods. Motivational enhancement therapy encourages the teen to increase their desire to participate in therapy. Stimulus control refers to a treatment method that teaches the person to stay away from situations that are associated with substance abuse and to replace those situations with activities that are contrary to using drugs. Urge control is an approach to changing patterns that lead to drug use. Social control involves family members and other significant others of the addict in treatment.
Family interventions for drug addiction that tend to be effective for teens include multidimensional family therapy (MDFT), group therapy, and multifamily educational intervention (MFE). MDFT has been found to be quite effective. Longer-term residential treatment of three to five months that addresses peer relationships, educational problems, and family issues is often used in treating substance abuse in teens.
When one enters a drug rehab center many factors go into determining which program is right for you. A trained health professional, generally a doctor specializing in addiction medicine, makes a diagnosis to prescribe which treatment program is best for you.
Programs usually include inpatient, residential, outpatient, and/or short-stay options. There is a slight difference between inpatient and residential programs. The inpatient services are provided by a licensed hospital, while the residential services are less meticulous in their medical care standards. The length of stay in the center depends and varies on the severity of the disease and the stage the person is in at the time.
Recovery of drug abuse is a hard situation to deal with because every person is different in their degree of dependency, their attitude towards their abuse, their health at the time of entry to a center and their willingness to change their old ways and accept help for ways to live their life differently and better. Recovery is an ongoing process. Once a person leaves a center or treatment area, they must apply the skills they have learned into their everyday lifestyle. This can be extremely hard for some. However, some treatment centers do offer follow-up programs to ensure and monitor the process of one’s recovery. The hardest part is realizing you have a problem and making the choice to enter a treatment facility.
You can begin to more closely monitor your child’s activities. Have a few conversations. Ask: Who? What? Where? When? Reflect with your child on why he/she is using drugs and try to understand the reasons why so that you can help solve the problem. When you get a better idea of the situation, then you can decide next steps. These could include setting new rules and consequences that are reasonable and enforceable – such as a new curfew, no cell phone or computer privileges for a period of time, or less time hanging out with friends. You may want to get them involved in pro-social activities that will keep them busy and help them meet new people
Limiting their children’s access to substances that can be abused have been associated with less teenage drug use. Limiting the amount of alcohol, cleaning solutions (inhalants), prescription, and over-the-counter medications that are kept in the home to amounts that can be closely monitored and accounted for has also been found to decrease substance abuse by teens
A community based program for the prevention of the drug usage should be developed. In order to rid communities of drug abuse and crimes related to drugs, we must put drug dealers out of business. Since drug trafficking and the sale of drugs are so profitable, it has become big business. The only way to put any business out of business is to decrease the demand for the product or service.
To accomplish this, each community must provide preventive interventions in their small part of the world. Collectively, we can have a long-term impact on ridding the world of illicit drug use and drug abuse.
Creating a substance abuse prevention program will change the lives of residents in your community. Drugs and crimes related to drugs are in every community. It does not matter if it is a wealthy community or the poorest of the poor. This is why it is so important that every community creates a program for substance abuse prevention. Accordingly, a powerful program for substance abuse prevention incorporates drug education with community mobilization, youth development, and community action. Yes, the community must get involved.*
The law enforcement should be able to locate where the drugs are being brought in, they should find out the roots its coming from and destroy it there only. They should keep a watch on the people who bring it in and who are the people who get the stuff to come in the cities. The law enforcement is expected to keep the places clean and out of drugs so the young generation will not come in contact with these different substances that are being sold in the market. There should be brutal punishments for the sellers when they are caught selling these drugs to the teens or anyone.
Short and Long Term Effects of Drug Abuse
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse
â€¢ Depressed respiration
â€¢ Clouded mental functioning
â€¢ Nausea and vomiting
â€¢ Suppression of pain
â€¢ Spontaneous abortion Long-Term Effects:
â€¢ Infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis)
â€¢ Collapsed veins
â€¢ Bacterial infections
â€¢ Infection of heart lining and valves
â€¢ Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems
In order to solve the drug addiction in teens, the above listed criteria play a big role because it is a must to identify is someone that you care about is on drugs. They should be well aware of the consequences and the effects of the drug they are using. When they know the right information and someone is to take them seriously and help them from getting out of this addiction will solve this crucial matter. Even if you have to get to the depth of it by finding out where is the supply coming from and getting those drug dealers in the right place where they belong which is prison will also eradicate the drug usage of your closed one.
Drug addiction is a brain disease because the abuse of drugs leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain. Although it is true that for most people the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary, over time the changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person’s self control and ability to make sound decisions, and at the same time send intense impulses to take drugs.
Fortunately, there are treatments that help people to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects and regain control. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications, if available, with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Treatment approaches that are tailored to each patient’s drug abuse patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems can lead to sustained recovery and a life without drug abuse.
Based on the results and solutions to solve this problem of increasing the number of teens in drug addiction, I recommend:
All the parents should make their kids well aware of the facts and effects of the drug usage and what could be the consequences of the usage of these drugs. Only the parents’ friendly behavior and necessarily restrictions can keep their kid away from using these substances. It is only the loved ones whom you care for can help the drug addicts get rid of this problem and put themselves in some rehabilitation centers if necessary. Also there should be more care given in rehab centers and more programs can be established to finish of this matter for good.
3. “Drug Addiction” by John Hicks, Millbrook Press (August 1, 1997)
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