Signs of Drug Abuse
There are many warning signs that parents can look for to see if their son is using drugs. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all of these signs will be present in every case and that some behaviors could be attributed to other things such as puberty or teenage angst. With that said, here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of drug abuse:
Changes in behavior
If your son has started taking drugs, you may notice a change in their behavior, both due to their drug use and trying to hide their drug use. They may have started becoming withdrawn, aggressive, or secretive. How they behave depends on which class of drugs they are taking:
Stimulants. Stimulants are also known as “uppers”, and include crystal meth, cocaine and crack. Your son may have stopped eating so much, he might have begun losing weight and seemingly has more energy than he previously did. He may have begun talking excessively. People who take stimulants may stay awake for long periods of time and then sleep an extended amount.
Depressants. Depressants are also known as “downers”, and they include drugs such as Xanax, Oxycodone and heroin. If your son is taking these, you may notice that his reaction times have slowed down significantly. He might look sleepy much of the time, and is spending more time sleeping. If he is taking an opioid, like heroin of Oxycodone, his pupils may be very small.
Cannabis. Cannabis is usually considered a depressant, though it sometimes has stimulant qualities. Cannabis is the most common drug that teenagers in the United States abuse. Signs that your son is abusing cannabis include a pungent smell on his clothes, red eyes, excessive eating and sleeping for long periods. He may also be paranoid, anxious or unusually withdrawn.
Loss of interest in activities
If you son previously had a hobby that he spent much of his time engaged in and he has now stopped, this does not necessarily indicate that he is using drugs. However, if he has done this and you also notice some of the other symptoms in this list, it might be cause for concern.
Poor hygiene and appearance
People who start taking drugs frequently often begin to neglect their appearance. They may stop taking regularly showers, have holes or burn marks in their clothes, or have greasy and unwashed hair. If your son looks particularly unkempt all of a sudden, it could be a warning sign that he is using drugs.
When people use drugs, particularly stimulants, they can begin to lose weight. If you notice this sign combined with others on the list, it might be because he is taking drugs.
Lying and stealing
Has your son begun lying and stealing uncharacteristically? Someone who is abusing drugs needs money to fund their habit, and may need to lie so that their drug abuse is not found out.
If you notice any of these signs in your son, it is important to take action. The sooner you catch the problem, the easier it will be to address.
Friends you do not approve of
When someone begins using drugs, they might stop hanging around with old friends and begin associating with a new crowd. If your son has stopped talking with their old friends and now has a group of friends who you would prefer that they not associate with, this may be a sign that they are using drugs. This is particularly true if the people that your son is hanging around with are people who are known to use drugs.
Tips for Parents of Children Struggling with Addiction
There are a few things that you can do as a parent to help your son through his addiction. The most important thing is to be there for him and be supportive. This means letting him know that you love him unconditionally and are there for him no matter what. The only way that your son is likely to open up about his drug addiction is if he trusts you, so make sure that you do not do anything to upset this trust.
It is also crucial that you do not enable his behavior by giving in to his demands or making excuses for him. This will only make the problem worse. This means not giving him money when he asks for it, and not allowing him to stay out all night.
You can also try saying a prayer for your drug addicted child. A prayer for your child addicted to drugs might go something like this:
“Lord, my son has been going through alot lately, and has unfortunately got addicted to drugs. Dear God, I ask that my son be forgiven and that you help him to see the righteous path again. Amen”
Helping vs Enabling a Drug Addict Child
It is important to know how not to enable a drug addict son. One of the most difficult things for parents to understand is the difference between helping and enabling their child’s drug addiction.
How to help a drug addict without enabling means doing things that will directly support his sobriety such as attending therapy sessions with him or helping him find a job. You can also convince him to go to rehab.
Signs of enabling a drug addict, on the other hand, means doing things that indirectly support his drug use such as giving him money or turning a blind eye to his behavior. It is important to make sure that you are not enabling your son’s addiction as this will only make it harder for him to recover.
How Do I Help a Drug Addicted Son?
The most important thing that you can do to help your loved one is to be there for him. Show him that you love and support him unconditionally. You should also try to get him into therapy or counselling as this can be incredibly helpful. Additionally, you should make sure that you are not enabling his addiction in any way. Try to be understanding and patient as he goes through this difficult time.
The best thing that you can do for a drug addicted family member is encourage them to go to drug rehab. Whichever drug they are on, residential drug treatment is the best chance that they have to recover from being addicted to drugs.
If you are unsure of the best way to convince your drug addicted son to go to rehab, contact Prosperity Haven. Our staff are trained to support you and your son from these first tentative steps.
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