7 Warning Signs That Your Teen Is Using Drugs

kids and drugs

Teens

Lately, you’ve noticed that something is different with your teenager and it’s more than just hormones.  Their eyes are bloodshot, they’ve suddenly gained or lost weight, and they’re constantly tired. In fact, you don’t recognize your teenager anymore. It’s not just physical changes but psychological ones as well. There are many signs that your teen may be abusing drugs.  They’re more closed off and secretive.

Warning Signs

While these are just a few physical changes attributed to drug use, there are seven warning signs to alert you that your teen may, in fact, be using drugs and how to approach this sensitive subject.

 

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. and DrugFree.Org, the following warning signs may be a cause of drug use:

  1. Changes in behavior

  • Becomes secretive i.e. making secret phone calls and disappearing for hours at a time
  • Is uncharacteristically loud or obnoxious and laughs at seemingly nothing
  • Frequently uses over the counter medicines to reduce redness in the eyes or nasal irritation
  • Gets a sudden appetite and munches on snacks or other pre-prepared foods
  • Constantly breaks curfew and needs money, makes countless excuses
  1. Changes in personality

  • Aggressive, inflexible, bitter
  • Strangely elated and hyperactive
  • Unmotivated and unable to focus on the task at hand
  • Displays sudden mood swings (not PMS related) or emotional instability
  • Loss of inhibitions i.e. exhibits inappropriate behavior deemed unacceptable by society
  1. Changes in hygiene and appearance

  • A flushed face especially on the cheeks
  • Bad hygiene and a usual messy appearance
  • Uncommon smells, such as smoke, on clothes or breath
  • Wearing long sleeves during warm weather to hide track marks on arms
  • Soot or burns on or around mouth and lips from joints burning down
  1. Changes in health

  • Lethargic and tired
  • Vomiting and frequently sick
  • Skin abrasions, bruises, or sores around the mouth or lips
  • Nosebleeds and runny noses not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Not able to speak clearly, speaks with a slurred speech or speaks hurriedly
  1. Changes at school and work

  • Criticism from teachers, supervisors, or co-workers
  • Accusations of intoxication at school or work
  • Decline in ability to fulfill duties at school or work
  • Disinterest in school and frequent non-attendance
  • Disinterest in hobbies, sports, or extracurricular activities
  1. Changes at home

  • Stashes of alcohol or drugs concealed in a locked room
  • Missing alcohol, cigarettes, money, valuables, prescriptions or over the counter medications
  • Sudden presence of uncommon containers, wrappers, seeds, pipes, rolling papers, eye drops, butane lighters, small medicine bottle or homemade smoking devices such as bongs made out of soda bottles and foil
  1. Changes in relationships

  • Demands more privacy
  • Sudden change in relationships with family members and disagreeing with family values and beliefs
  • Sudden change in relationships with friends, starts hanging out with people they normally wouldn’t

Recognize The Signs

kids and drug abuseNow that you can recognize the warning signs your teen is using drugs, how do you approach this sensitive subject without setting off your teenager? It’s best to remember that the aforementioned warning signs of drugs abuse use could also be symptoms of something deeper such as a mental illness or disability.

Get Other Input

However, if you’re positive that your teenager doesn’t have a mental illness or disability then the first thing you want to do is connect with your partner and make sure that you two are on the same page. You’ll want to show a united front as you approach your teenager.

Its Not Easy

Be prepared to be called a hypocrite. Have you ever smoked anything or dabbled in drugs before? Your teenager will ask you that same question. Whatever your response may be, don’t let your response justify your teen’s drug use.

The Conversation

talking to kids about drugsBefore the conversation starts, you’ll want to gather every piece of evidence that you can. Of course, they’ll try to make an excuse such as, “I’m holding it for a friend.” You’ll want to look in these common hiding places: dresser drawers, desk drawers, small boxes, backpacks, duffel bags, under the bed, between books, makeup cases, loose floor boards, fake soda bottles with false bottoms, in over the counter medication bottles, and inside empty candy bags as stated on DrugFree.Org.

Expectations

Keep your expectations low but set a realistic goal of how you want the conversation to end.

No matter what, stay calm. Be prepared for hostility and to be baited into responding with hostility. If the conversation gets hostile, end it and bring it up another time.

Whatever you do, don’t deny addiction in your family. If you have a family history of addiction, kindly remind your teen that they are at an elevated risk of developing an addiction. Once you, your partner, and teenager have had a calm talk; it’s best to set expectations and rules for the future. Make sure that your teen understands the rules and the consequences for breaking the rules.

Monitor your teen’s progress and if your teen doesn’t seem to be following the rules set, then be sure to follow up with the consequences. If your teen hasn’t gotten better and their use of drugs seems to be a heavier addiction problem, it’s best to seek professional help.

If yo notice these signs, you may want to contact a Drug Rehab Center. For most people, they can assist you with the professional help you need.

Many don’t only do they offer a detox program, but they also offer programs for relapse as well.  Its always a good idea to speak with a drug recovery professional and get your teen the help they need today.

 

Dealing With Nicotine Addiction

Nicotine Addiction

Research has shown that the second most heavily used drug in the United State is nicotine. Yes, nicotine is a drug, as it is high addictive. Nicotine, found in all tobacco products, is a highly addictive drug that acts in the brain and throughout the body. There are many different types of tobacco products, including:

  • Cigarettes
  • Light Cigarettes
  • Menthol cigarettes
  • Cigars and pipes
  • Bidis and Kreteks (Clove Cigarettes)
  • Hookahs
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Snuff
  • Dip
  • Snus
  • Dissolvable products, including lozenges, orbs, sticks, and strips

Affects of Tobacco

When you use tobacco products, nicotine is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream, and then into your brain. Your brain them releases adrenaline, one of the the bodies neurochemicals, which creates a sensation of pleasure and energy.

Of course, these sensations often fade quite quickly, making you feel tired and down. You may find yourself craving those feelings again, which eventually leads to addiction. Nicotine is a drug that you can build up a tolerance too, meaning that over time the more you use, the less you’ll feel. Eventually, you’ll need a lot more to feel the effects.  

Quitting Tobacco Products

So what happens when I try to quit using tobacco products?  Quitting tobacco use is a step in the right direction for healthy living.  The challenge is it is so addictive, when you stop or try to cut back, you experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Hunger
  • Nicotine cravings
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Attention deficits

So why should you quit using tobacco products? Well, here are a few reasons:

  • Bad breath
  • Smelly clothes and hair
  • Yellow teeth and nails/fingers
  • Tiring easily during exercise
  • Fast heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Damage to your immune system
  • Poor sexual performance
  • Weakening of tendons and ligaments
  • Second hand smoke risk to those around you
  • Tobacco products are expensive
  • Increased risk for heart disease, cancers, stomach ulcers, breathing problems, and more

Just like combating any types of addictions, it is best to have the support of your family and friends. Talk to a doctor about ways to quit smoking, including different types of medications that may help. Many people use a patch or chewing gum in place of pills.

The cravings will be hard to beat and ignore. Don’t get down if you fall back in to smoking again. Aside from the addictive nature of nicotine, there are also behavioral addictions you must overcome, such as the feeling of holding a cigarette, the smell of tobacco, etc. Quitting is going to be a long and hard journey, but it will be worth it in the end. Within 3 months of quitting, your risk for heart attacks decrease as your lung functions improve. Quit today.

Neurochemicals: The Internal Medicine

The Importance of Neurochemicals

Being in a positive state of mind can have a significant impact on your overall well being, motivation, and productivity. These wonderful little built-in neurochemicals are readily available in the human body and have a broad range of very positive affects on our brain and our body.

Neurochemicals

Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Endorphins are the four neurochemicals that are responsible for creating and sustaining your internal happiness and overall sense of well-being and accomplishment. There are a number of situations that can and will trigger these readily available neurotransmitters. The trick is knowing how these neurochemicals work in our bodies and what we need to do to trigger them.

Dopamine

NeurochemicalsDopamine is the chemical that motivates. High levels of dopamine motivates action toward goals in your life and gives you a surge of pleasure when you’ve achieved those goals. A dopamine addict thrives on the next goal achieved. Low levels of dopamine are just the opposite and cause procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm.

One way to achieve those frequent doses of dopamine is to break down your bigger goals into smaller ones. By doing so, you can create a series of accomplishments that keep your dopamine levels high. Part of the process is to truly acknowledge the moment and actually celebrate it by buying a bottle of wine, or head to your favorite restaurant or just taking the time you need to pat yourself on the back for your achievement.

Like any drug you can actually get a dopamine hangover when you slump after a massive high. Creating new goals and starting to act on them even before achieving your current goals will ensure a consistent pattern for experiencing dopamine.

Serotonin

Serotonin increases when you are feeling significant or important. When serotonin levels are low you can experience loneliness and depression. Positive feedback from family, friends, work and social communities are important to an individual’s serotonin release. Unhealthy attention-seeking behaviors are also a cry for what serotonin provides. Most antidepressants focus on the production of serotonin however, man-made reproductions of the delicate chemicals can lead to lifelong side effects and it is by far better to learn ways that you can help yourself release and sustain these chemicals within your own body.  

There are a variety of techniques that will release serotonin into your body.

Reflecting on past achievements where you felt significant or important can help your brain relive the experience and causes a reaction in your body that releases serotonin. The brain does not make a  differentiation between what is real and what is imagined, so it produces serotonin in both cases.

neurochemicals and your moodPracticing gratitude and appreciation even for the smallest of things are reminders and mental pictures of all the good things you’ve experienced that your brain processes and stores for you. When you need a serotonin boost during a stressful day, take a few moments to reflect on the things in life that you have to be grateful for and things and people that you appreciate that are in your life. Focusing on positive things will allow your serotonin levels to increase which will also decrease your blood pressure and level your heartbeat.

Another way to boost your serotonin levels is to expose yourself to the sun for up to 20 minutes a day. Your skin absorbs UV rays which promotes Vitamin-D and serotonin production. Although too much ultraviolet light isn’t good, some exposure is healthy for boosting your serotonin levels.

Oxytocin

This is NOT Oxycontin, the drug that is playing a large part in prescription drug abuse.  Oxytocin is referred to as “the cuddle hormone” and creates intimacy, trust, and strengthens relationships. It’s released by both men and women during orgasm, and by mothers during childbirth and breastfeeding. An mother animal will reject her offspring if the release of oxytocin is blocked. Healthy doses of oxytocin is the glue that binds together healthy relationships.

A simple way to keep your oxytocin flowing in your body is to give someone a hug. Dr. Paul Zak says that inter-personal touch not only raises oxytocin, but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system. He recommends eight hugs a day. Giving someone a gift, will also cause your oxytocin levels to rise and as an added bonus it also gives a boost to the receiver.

Endorphins

Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress. Their primary job is to alleviate anxiety. The euphoric “runner’s high” is a result of endorphins. Similar to morphine, it acts as an analgesic and sedative and diminishes your perception of pain.

Laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release. Even forced laughter and the anticipation or expectation of laughter increases your body’s level of endorphins. Taking time out during the day to have a good laugh is a great and simple way of keeping those good feelings going.

Aromatherapies: the smell of vanilla and lavender has been linked with the production of endorphins. Studies have shown that dark chocolate and spicy foods will cause your brain to release endorphins. Keeping scented oils and dark chocolate in your life will help your body get a quick endorphin boost.

It is a known scientific fact that we still know very little about how our bodies work and the power behind them. But this we do know, neurochemicals control the way we feel about ourselves and how we heal ourselves. Take what know and put it to work for you. Give someone a hug, treat yourself to a personal celebration, eat some dark chocolate, smell the roses and get those neurochemicals cooking and working for you in your life.

Man Made Neurochemicals

Many of the drugs which get abused are some form of a man made Neurochemical.  In some instances, many drugs today stimulate the excretion of a specific neurochemical.  When your body naturally produces these chemicals, they provide the above referenced results, which can be very pleasurable.  In today’s society we now have the ability to administer specific neurochemicals at will, it creates dependency.  In many instances, the rehab is needed to overcome these dependencies.  With many addictions today ultimately the bodies need to “feel” the effects of neurochemicals, its important that we educate ourselves on exactly what is happening inside our own body.

Brain Analysis of Neurochemicals