How Do You Know If Your Child May Have an Addiction?

If you have children, it is one of your greatest worries that your child will fall victim to – or is already suffering from an addiction.

There are many forms of addiction:

Of course there are addictions to illegal drugs like cocaine, heroine and designer pills, and also addictions to drugs that are legal for adults, like Marihuana, cigarettes and alcohol, as well as prescription drugs which can be obtained from an unlocked medicine cabinet or illegally on the street. And then there is the addiction to sex, video gaming or social media. But there are other things that can be addictive, like food (especially sugar, flour, milk products, eating generally), caffeine or gambling.

So how do you know that your child could have an addiction?

Generally, here are the signs that a habit may be more than just a habit, and is an addiction:

  • A certain substance or habit cannot be stopped voluntarily, even if it has negative consequences.
  • The substance use or habit is hidden from the parents (your teen says he/she is doing one thing, but you catch them in a lie). They may start engaging in secretive or suspicious behavior such as retreating during gatherings or making frequent, unnecessary trips just to be alone.  They can also become emotionally distant from those they were previously close to.
  • Your teen loses interest in things or hobbies he/she usually liked and was interested in
  • Your child loses/gains weight or sleeps an unusual amount of time or he/she behaves in erratic ways, not usual for him/her.
  • Depression often accompanies drug addiction, so look for signs of hopelessness, negative talk, and withdrawing from all activity. They may feel exhausted and not want to get out bed sleeping for long periods of time.
  • The symptoms of drug addiction can often be masked by other problems in a person’s life.  Drug use becomes an addiction when a person has a compulsive need to use drugs without care or regard for the consequences that might arise either physically or emotionally.
  • Your child gets upset/angry when you ask him to stop an addictive habit (e.g. switch off the phone/computer after 7pm every day)
  • You catch your child denying the habit/substance use, even if you catch them doing it.
  • Your child may look pale or gaunt, neglect to groom themselves such as not showering on a regular basis or taking the time to comb their hair.  They may have physical sores on their body and their eyes may appear dull and listless with a faraway look most of the time.
  • Your teen’s grades in school drop, his/her school or work performance suffers.
  • Your child’s behaviour changes to an extent unusual in teens.  An addiction can often be shown in a person’s mood.  Are they often either really “up” or really “down”?  Mood swings are common with addictions as are angry outbursts and irrational behavior.  People with a drug  addiction will find themselves doing things they normally wouldn’t do without the drug.
  • Your child gets upset and angry if asked directly about the suspected substance/habit
  • Drug addiction is a serious disease, so if you see these symptoms in yourself or someone you love, seek treatment.  The healing has to begin somewhere, and when the symptoms arise, the time to get help is now!
  • Consider contacting your family doctor, the school guidance counselor or book a free call with me to talk about your and your teen’s options for recovery.

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