Substance abuse is rampant in the United States and as a child counselor, I have worked with a number of young people who abuse or are addicted to alcohol or drugs, while most of them need immediate help for cocaine addiction. Though children and teens don’t have the problem of substance abuse costing them their jobs or marriages, they are at risk for serious legal problems, health problems, cognitive problems, ruined relationships and even death.
Why Children Abuse Drugs And Alcohol
Children and adolescents often abuse drugs and alcohol for the same reasons that adults do; they use mood-altering substances to self-medicate because they feel isolated, depressed or anxious. These feelings can arise from any number of things including physical, psychological or sexual abuse. For children, though, there is the added pressure of wanting and needing to fit in with their peers; and often, fitting in means adopting bad behaviors like drinking too much, smoking pot or taking other drugs.
What Parents Can Do To Prevent Drug And Alcohol Abuse
The first thing parents can do, in every situation, is to set a good example. Parents who abuse alcohol and drugs, even prescription drugs, are going to have a harder time convincing their children that it’s wrong than parents who don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. The second thing parents can do is to keep lines of communication open between themselves and their children. As a child counselor, I know how effective talking can be. Parents who talk openly and frankly to their children about all of the dangers they’re likely to encounter in their lives, and how to deal with them, will have healthier relationships with their children, and, subsequently, healthier children who won’t have to seek solace in a bottle of liquor or a bottle of pills.
Which Warning Signs Of Drug Or Alcohol Abuse To Watch For
Sometimes, no amount of parental warning or counseling can stop a child from experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, this experimentation can lead to addiction. Parents must pay attention to warning signs of a substance abuse problem that include:
▪ Unusual behavior like increased aggression, agitation, sleepiness or lethargy
▪ Physical signs like dilated pupils, slurred speech, red eyes, stumbling or appetite changes
▪ Performing poorly in school, especially if lower grades are something new
▪ Moodiness that includes depression or anxiety
If you suspect that your child is abusing drugs or alcohol, don’t wait until his life is seriously affected by his behavior; get treatment as quickly as possible. Call me, Jody VanDrimmelen, at Insight Child & Family Counseling at (972) 426-9500. I have been a child counselor for many years and I can help your teen find a way out of drug and alcohol abuse. Visit www.ldscounselordfw.com to find out more.