Kids and Drugs Part 2 – Signs of Drug Use
What A Parent can do regarding Kids and Drugs?
What Are The Signs Of Drug Use?
After writing the initial article Kids and drugs, I wanted to write an article that moves on and is practical for parents and their own children, what are the signs of drug use and what can a parent do?
As our children grow up it sometimes seems as if they have suddenly become fluent in a new language and this can cause problems for some parents. They panic at the thought of all the new language that relates to modern day youth culture and drug culture. Most children in secondary school will learn some phrases relating to drugs and their use. and kids and drugs often go together. But Don’t panic, keep your eyes, ears and nose open and be aware of change. Before we go any further the best advice I can give any parent is use your lack of knowledge to encourage openness when it comes to drugs. Whilst I would recommend doing your own research, because you will find as with most topics young people will make out they are the font of all knowledge, but get it wrong at times. If you can have an open relationship where you are able to talk with your children, you already are in the best position for addressing the issue of kids and Drugs.
I want to cover two areas relating to drugs briefly in this article they are signs of drug use and a little advice on what you can do if you find yourself in a situation where you think there may be a problem and you need help.
Signs Of Drug Usage When It Comes To Kids And Drugs.
If we are honest we would all say we hope our children go through life and drugs have no impact on them in any way. Sadly it is highly unlikely to happen and most young people will come across drugs in some way shape or form during their live. I believe because people see someone who is advocating reforming drug policy to see them regulated by law rather than using prohibition and punitive punishments they believe they are are pro drugs and believe that we all should try drugs and it becomes some recreational past time we all enjoy, when ever we want. Personally I support drug policy reform, I have seen the failure of prohibition and at times when I reflect how I have supported prohibition via manipulation and victimisation without offering the necessary support I feel rather embarrassed. But, I am also still against drugs, just as I am against smoking. I recognise the harm that drugs cause in our communities and wider society. At the same time I also accept people will always take drugs whether they want to lose their inhibitions and feel the extreme experience ravers often claim to experience or it is to self medicate and try to feel “normal” for just a short period of time. I want to see change for our children and recognising the signs of drug use early is beneficial for any family, Recognising the signs of drug use is second to having open dialogue within families, which is the most important tool for any family
Having a balanced view can give us a better understanding as parents and equip us to deal with situations we initially thought we couldn’t. First things first, Don’t panic and try not to get angry. if you can have open dialogue with your child it will help. You will feel angry, let down, scared a failure. You will be very emotional. It is normal, so what next.
First, what are the signs of drug use.
This is a question that has always interested me and I think you could right a book on the subject. So I am going to try and do it in a couple of paragraphs. I love a challenge.
Sudden Changes In Physical Appearance That Could Be Signs Of Drug Use.
First here is a list of physical signs you may notice.
- Extreme loss or increase in appetite, change of eating habits e.g. binge eating and unexplained weight gain or loss
- Extreme loss of, or poor, physical coordination, including slow or staggered walk
- A change in their sleep pattern. For example, insomnia or increased need for sleep, keeping unusual hours or unusually lazy
- Unusual Smells of what may be an unknown substance, foul body odor
- Poor personal Hygiene. Unusual lack of bathing or grooming
- Blank stare, red watery eyes, over or under dilated pupils
- Hyperactivity and excessive talkativeness
- Shaking hands or cold sweaty palms. This can also be tremors of the head as well as feet and hands
- Puffy flushed or pale face
- Runny nose, sniffing a lot, rubbing nose and coughing
- frequent bouts of nausea and vomiting
- Needle-like marks on extremities, including the bottom of feet.Although this is something most drug users can hide very well, especially in the early days of drug use.
When ever I have drawn up this list with parents they have often joked and said “Isn’t that a good description of a teenager?” It is a good point, it isn’t easy to spot these signs. What you need to remember is you know your child and whether there has been any sudden and or dramatic changes physically. For teenagers and young people change is a big part of their lives so it can take a lot of observation skills to recognise kids and drugs. But you should also look at the same time for any Changes In Behaviour.
Sudden Changes In Behaviour That Could Be Signs Of Drug Use.
Here is a list of behavioural changes you may notice.
- Unexplainable changes in attitude and personality.
- Avoiding contact with family and friends.
- New friends who are known to take drugs.
- Suddenly becoming a ”loner” or showing out of character anti-social behaviors
- A drop in work rate and in school and work results.
- Suddenly starting to be forgetful and less attentive
- A Change in habits and normal routine involving family and in their home
- Lack of motivation and energy
- sudden loss of control, out bursts of temper and irritability
- Appearing outwardly nervous and showing signs of anxiety
- Giddiness and excessive laughter, without any apparent reason
- Becoming more secretive and showing suspicious behavior
- Money Disappearing, whether it is from a purse or wallet or around the home. This can be along side household items disappearing
- You may notice strange items appearing in your home. When people start smoking heroin you will most likely find pieces of foil burnt on one side and a brown track or run from where the heroin has been burned to smoke it. Depending on the drug you may find various bit of drug paraphernalia, such as; rolling papers, pipes, bongs, syringes, digital scale, and razor blades.
Some of these things are not easy to notice as out of the ordinary. Also just because you notice one or a few of these traits it doesn’t mean your child is a drug user.
So what Can you do?
As I said earlier, try and stay calm. If drugs are being used they are likely to be in denial and or react angrily or defensive. The best thing you can do is try and start talking as a parent and child should. It is this relationship that can be the biggest help whether the problem is drugs related or not. It is by creating an environment where a child feels comfortable and that they can approach and talk with a parent that is the making of the best opportunity to move forward with your child.
Next don’t be afraid to get help. Now is not the time to feel guilty or start apportioning blame.
If you are involved with Bushcraft For Kids feel free to approach a leader for advice., we will give support where possible
Your G.P is a good place to start.
Your local Family Center
Local and national Drug Charities e.g. Frank
If you want to know more about addressing this problem take a look a L.E.A.P. UK website. You will find information regarding Drug policy and an excellent Podcast you can download and listen too.