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It could be that your loved ones are experimenting with one or more of a wide variety of intoxicating substances that are as close as your kitchen drawer, medicine cabinet, or garage. There has been increased popularity and use of heroin and LSD (“acid”), as well as “pot” (marijuana), which is up to ten times more potent than it was just a few years ago. Authorities report that people in their teens and early 20s are being targeted as the next big market for heroin, a drug that has long declined among adult populations. Reports show that heroin is even more accessible than marijuana or alcohol.
Marijuana and other illicit drugs get a lot of news coverage, but there are other less sinister, potentially more dangerous sources of getting high. Potent concoctions of common household glues, solvents, and aerosols, prescription pain medications like Oxycontin and Vicodin, or even some plants found in your yard. Some adults are even getting a buzz off of massive doses of certain vitamins.
Adults think they’re invincible, so they’ll try anything. They could experiment with huffing aerosol propellants, glues, gasoline, or paint. Or, they could be crushing cold medications and sniffing them like cocaine or guzzling liquid cold medicines. Still, others experiment with harder illegal drugs like ecstasy, crystal meth, crack, cocaine, LSD, or heroin, which are all highly addictive.
When Does Addiction Start?
Most adults involved with drugs say their experimentation began in the 7th or 8th grade; some as early as the 5th or 6th grade. Most say they got introduced to drugs or alcohol when staying overnight at a friend’s home or youth events. Others were introduced to drugs or alcohol when attending parties – usually, parties where older people are present and parents are absent, distracted, or don’t care.
There’s a difference between experimenting with drugs and being addicted. However, experimentation is no less dangerous since we hear stories every day of the deaths of first-time users. And experimenting with any drug that produces a “high” can lead to addiction if it goes on long enough. Some drugs are so addictive that they can lead to a lifetime of addiction with their very first use.
There’s nothing more gut-wrenching for a person than dealing with their loved one’s drug addiction. Watch a few episodes of the show “Intervention” on television, and you’ll see what living with an addict is like. It’s a constant nightmare, not just for the loved one but for the entire family. The lying, stealing, fits of anger, run-ins with the law, and constant fear that the loved one will overdose can destroy and bankrupt a family. And it won’t get better without treatment and ongoing support, sometimes spanning the addict’s entire life.
Sadly, more than a million adults are admitted yearly to drug rehab programs. And just like alcoholism, many will struggle with the addiction their entire life and relapse again and again.
Why Do People Experiment With Drugs?
Why do people experiment with drugs? Often they are motivated out of curiosity and the need to fit in. They want to try what their friends are trying, and they have a great need to belong. But other adults experiment because they seek something to cover up their anxiety or emotional pain. In essence, they are self-medicating. For instance, adults who use marijuana are often doing so to seek its perceived calming and soothing effect. But studies show that the prolonged use of the drug has the opposite effect, leading to heightened anxiety, depression, nervousness, mental disorders, paranoia, and panic attacks. Like a Trojan horse, most drugs eventually lose their effectiveness and require higher and higher doses or more addictive drugs for the user to feel the same high as before. And that’s when the family usually discovers their loved one has a problem.
While some people diminish the seriousness of pot use, they should pay attention to what the National Institute on Drug Abuse can be its effects. “Some short- and long-term marijuana users have experienced impaired attention, memory problems, and diminished learning capacity. For young people, these effects can have especially serious consequences – as chemicals found in marijuana can interfere with the formation of memories and the ability to retain knowledge. In addition, some frequent users display “a motivational syndrome” or “burnout,” which is characterized by a general apathy toward life events. After prolonged use, heavy users often appear dull, distracted, and lazy – and some can even become unaware of their surroundings. Burned-out users may also suffer from poor coordination, decreased sex drive, diminished interpersonal skills, and poor judgment.”
Sadly, adults with more serious emotional and psychological problems turn to dangerous concoctions or massive doses of drugs as a form of “Russian Roulette.” They reason, “If I die, then so be it.” Sometimes these are intentional suicidal events, but most are unintentional or caused by a mixture of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol alone can be lethal in high quantities.
Before Drug Counseling, Get the Drug Use Under Control
Many people don’t realize that drug use may be why they see behavioral issues in their loved ones. So all the counseling help in the world will have little positive effect until stopping drug use and the lingering effects are out of the loved one’s system. Depending on the drug, the after-effects can last several months.
Therapists cannot deal with your loved one’s internal issues until the drug issues are taken care of. Likewise, please don’t seek counseling for your loved one until the drugs are out of their system. It’s a waste of money and time. The best plan is to have the two therapies work hand in hand, ensuring that the ongoing support of an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous program continues in tandem you’re your loved one’s counseling for emotional and behavioral issues.
Signs of Drug Use
There are many signs of substance abuse that a family can be watchful for. These might also be symptoms of other non-drug issues, so the only way to know is to require your loved one to get a full-spectrum drug and alcohol test (for many types of drugs). Have it done professionally by a local lab that processes tests for businesses and gives little time for your loved one to prepare for the test. They can find many ways on the Internet to falsify the results.
A substance abuse test is warranted if you see any of these signs:
- Masking — you notice that they consume mega doses of vitamins, teas, and herbs to mask drug use.
- Increased lying – not just once or twice, but chronic dishonesty, especially if lying is new for your teen.
- Breakdown in everyday habits – drastic changes in sleep, appetite, the ability to complete schoolwork, loss of interest in things they once loved, extreme forgetfulness, and no longer keeping themselves clean.
- An unusual odor on clothes or in the room. Frequent use of incense or deodorizers to mask the smell, eye drops (to alleviate bloodshot eyes), extended periods locked alone in their room or the bathroom, frequent use of the garage or shed or other vacant buildings.
- Change in company – your loved one exchanges healthy friendships for fierce loyalty to questionable people you don’t know. They may even disappear with their new friends for long periods.
- Stealing or sudden wealth. Shoplifting, credit card abuse, and valuables disappear from the home without explanation. Or, you may see unexplained money, jewelry, new clothes, or new gadgets from selling drugs (even from selling your prescriptions).
- Change schedule – up all night or up very late at night, sleeps for days, misses work, misses appointments, is on the phone late at night, or regularly wants to stay overnight at a friend’s house.
- Aggression, anger, mood swings, disrespect, and blaming – to an unreasonable degree and directed against you and your family or other authorities.
- Drug paraphernalia — pincers or paper clips for smoking, empty or disassembled pen cases for snorting, empty aerosol cans, burnt spoons, homemade pot pipes, steel wool, hypodermic needle parts, unknown prescription bottles, empty liquid cold remedy bottles, cold remedy blister packs, missing glues or solvents, or knives and spoons used for crushing and sniffing pills repeatedly show up in their room.
The problem is not recognizing how drugs might affect your loved one’s behavior. It’s easy to identify bad behavior and blame it on normal teenage emotions. The real dilemma comes from the family not believing their loved one might be experimenting with or using drugs in the first place. It’s called denial.
You may not understand why your loved one has chosen drug use to “cope” with some giant in their life, but that’s another matter altogether. And because it is inconceivable that your loved one would ever do such a thing, you may fail to consider it, discuss it with them or drug test them to find out.
Overall, they need to know you will do everything to keep drugs from becoming a part of their history, even if it means putting them in a drug rehab program or even reporting them to the authorities and landing them in jail. Better a few days in jail than a life in the grip of drugs.
If your loved one is acting up, act now to test them for substance abuse. Every day you wait is possibly another step closer to your loved one becoming a drug addict or alcoholic, or worse yet, overdosing and dying. Sadly, it happens every few minutes of every day to a family just like yours.
Don’t stick your head in the sand and pretend that your loved one knows better than to try drugs. The sooner you know what you are dealing with, the better the chance you’ll have to find the right kind of help for your loved one.
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Please consider our experienced Christian addiction treatment center located in Pensacola, Florida. If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction or life-controlling issue, please give us a call now at (866) 563-0497 to find the best rehab and recovery center near Pensacola. We look forward to hearing from you!
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If you can’t get away from work or family responsibilities, Hope Counseling offers in-person or online Christian addiction counseling for women near Pensacola, Florida. Contact Hope Counseling today. Call 855-917-0740, or visit our website: https://hopecounselingsoutheast.com