A Comprehensive Guide On How To Help A Drug Addict
In this article, we address how parents can prevent kids from using drugs, the signs that show your kid is using drugs and how you can help a drug addict
According to Vanguard, a 23-year old drug addict, Micheal, allegedly killed his father and mother and left his sister in a pool of her own blood in their apartment. Although police haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly why the suspect killed his parents since he’s on the run, residents of Afeez Gbadamosi Street, in the Ejigbo area of Lagos state, have pointed to his uncontrollable urge to get drugs at all cost. Drug abuse in Nigeria is a rising problem that has been in the news ever so often for its negative effects. In this article, we explore drug addiction, signs of a drug addict, ways parents can prevent kids from using drugs and how to help a drug addict.
Addiction and its effects: How to help a drug addict
Drug addiction is like an itch one must scratch anytime the need arises, which is usually all the time. Addicts will go to any length to scratch that itch. As evidenced in Michael’s case, they will do anything to get their hands on new supply when they run out.
One of the residents described the suspect’s late father as a no-nonsense man who had been warning his son against taking illicit drugs but to no avail. There had been an altercation between them several times.
“Michael is the first child,” said the resident. “The couple had three children. He had gone to three private universities but could not complete his education because of illicit drugs. At a point, he said that his family hated him, even when his parents did all they could to make him useful.”
How do kids become hooked on drugs?
This incident above highlights the worst of drug abuse. However, before we dive further in it is essential to understand the likely factors that lead kids to drug addiction.
- Inadequate information: To simply tell your child that drug abuse is bad is to do half of the job. When you’re educating your child about drug abuse, you should clearly tell them about the side effects, both emotionally and physically. With complete information, the child knows what not to involve himself in.
- Bad parenting: Obviously, your child looks up to you and is always looking to learn from you. As a parent, you may end up raising an alcoholic if you yourself turn to alcohol all the time. How you conduct yourself is important to how your child deals with drugs.
- Friends: The kind of friends your child keeps is the most likely reason why he might become a drug addict. In some cases, friendship can overpower parental influence, so you have to watch who your child hangs out with.
- Boredom: There’s a popular Nigerian saying that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. This saying applies here. When you leave your child unoccupied, he becomes bored and begins to look for something to provide fun in his life.
What are the effects of drug abuse on the body?
Drug abuse has different effects on the body, some short-term and others long-term. In some cases, it depends on the drug that is being abused and how much is being taken. Abused drugs in Nigeria include codeine, tramadol, Rohypnol, diazepam, exol, and cannabis. People easily have access to all these drugs in Nigeria. But when they don’t, some even go as far as mixing strong substances like lizard parts, or sniffing glue, petrol, and sewage water just to get their high.
The effect of drug abuse is so absolute to the point of having a negative effect on almost every part of the body. The respiratory system, the brain, the liver, the heart, the kidney, the gastrointestinal system—all of them are affected by drug abuse.
Below are some general effects of drug abuse on the body:
- Weakens your immune system, increasing the risk of illness and infection.
- Lung disease.
- Difficulty with daily living due to problems with memory and decision making.
- Seizures, stroke, mental confusion and brain damage.
- Nausea and abdominal pain, which can also lead to changes in appetite and weight loss.
- Breast development in men and increase in temperature that can leave the body open to other health issues.
- Liver damage or failure as a result of increased strain on the liver.
- Heart conditions such as heart attacks, collapsed veins, and blood vessel infections.
The effect of drug addiction on family relationships?
Drug addiction is often a personal experience, but only when it exists away from family settings. However, oftentimes families get dragged into the situation, because they have to deal with the emotional damage, as well as financial, legal, medical, and other unforeseen consequences. Below are ways having a drug addict can affect your family:
- Loss of relationship: One of the effects of drug abuse is loss of interest, which means the user might lose interest in something they previously liked. So your child may suddenly start staying away from home.
- Loss of trust: Addicts tend to become very secretive, which leads them to lie to their loved ones, losing their trust in the process. This causes a sense of loss within the family, as the addiction begins to take priority over the family’s needs.
- Role of caretaker: When a person is addicted, illnesses are more likely to show up, which puts family members in a position where they feel they have to take care of the addict. Caretaking can be overwhelming to the point of making family members shift the whole of their attention to the addicted family member.
- Financial instability: Finding a solution to drug addiction is an expensive undertaking that can put a serious strain on the family’s finances. Plus, the addict may even resort to stealing money from the house in order to sustain his addiction.
- Aggression: Drug addiction changes the way a person thinks and behaves. A peaceful child may suddenly become aggressive to his siblings at home.
How to know if your child is using drugs
Children who use drugs may try to hide it from their parents, but they fail most of the time. This is because drugs have a way of altering a person’s behaviour, psychologically and physically. Here are a few signs to look out for:
- Psychological signs
- Mood swings
- Absence from school and problems with schoolwork, such as slipping grades.
- Withdrawal and keeping secrets from family and friends
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be important.
- Changes in friendships, such as hanging out only with friends who use drugs.
- Stealing or selling belongings to be able to afford drugs.
- Spending a lot of time figuring out how to get drugs.
- Anxiety, anger, or depression.
- Physical signs
- Changes in eating habits, including weight loss or gain.
- Needing to take more of a drug to get the same effect.
- Changes in sleeping habits.
- Feeling shaky and unable to stop.
How can I prevent my child from becoming a drug addict?
As a parent, you have a big role to play in preventing your child from using drugs. Here are a few ways you can ensure that your child doesn’t become an addict:
- Don’t keep drugs carelessly: You may be surprised to know that a lot of children just raid their parent’s cabinet when they need drugs or alcohol because they know it’s there and their parents don’t bother to secure their cabinets. Keep these things out of sight where your child wouldn’t be able to reach them.
- Be a role model: As far as your child is concerned, you’re his first role model. He looks up to you and tries to copy what you do. If you must drink alcohol, take it in moderation.
- Talk about drugs: Talk to your child about the negative effects of drug abuse. Be very clear and direct about what happens to a person who abuses drugs.
- Teach your child to take a stand: Most children pick up drug abuse from their friends who tell them to have a taste. Teach your child different ways of saying no. It could be “No thanks, I’m not into that,” or “No, let’s do something else.”
- Be selective about movies: Don’t let your child watch movies that glorify the use of drugs. It will pass the message that using drugs is cool.
- Encourage positive interests: In trying to discourage negative interests, it helps to encourage the positive ones. If your child is into sports or indoor games, encourage more of that.
How can I help my child who’s already an addict?
Dealing with a drug addict can be a demanding process, but below are some steps on how to help.
- First and foremost, always remember that addiction is a disease of the brain, not a choice or a moral failing.
- Remember that no one can take on the fight for a drug addict. The individual must learn to manage it.
- Set boundaries and stand by them.
- Encourage the individual to seek help. This will require financial backing and your support all the way.
- Look for a therapist who specializes in addiction counselling and get help.
- Set an example for healthy living by giving up casual drug and alcohol use.
- Don’t try to cover up problems created by addiction. You need to let the addict deal with the consequences of addiction. Just try and be supportive.
When you help a drug addict, keep in mind that coming back from an addiction isn’t usually a smooth process. Therefore, if your child relapses in the process of kicking the addiction, don’t give up on him. Relapsing is a part of the overall process of recovery.
Also read: These Harmful Effects Of Smoking Shisha