Changes in our children’s behaviors are often a red flag, a sign that there might be a problem with addiction or some other emotional challenge such as depression or anxiety. If they’re suddenly considerably more or less social than they usually are, if they’re separating themselves from old friends, or anxious to hang out with new friends, something might be amiss. Noticeable changes in their sleep patterns, eating habits and routines can also be signs an addiction is developing. They might start exhibiting increased anxiety, heightened stress levels, nervousness, or over-worrying. They might seem depressed and lose interest in their regular activities. They might be increasingly restless, uneasy, irritable or volatile. They might appear exhausted, drained and depleted. On the other hand, they might start being more energetic, hyper, even manic. They might start to appear out of control. They might become more reactive or unkind towards friends, siblings and other family members. They might isolate themselves and start spending more time alone. They might become more secretive about their plans and whereabouts.
If we have any suspicion that our children might be experimenting with drugs, it’s a good idea to speak with their teachers, school administrators and counselors. We can consider having them start seeing a therapist, which is beneficial even if addiction isn’t an issue. We want to enlist as much support as we can, so that our children know they are loved and supported. Speak to community members, neighbors, members of your church, and your children’s friends’ parents – anyone who might have more information on your child’s well-being and anyone who has children who might be similarly affected. Your children might resent the extra attention and feel their privacy is being invaded, but they will look back and be grateful that their parents cared enough to be proactive on their behalf.
Prevention is so important when it comes to childhood addiction. Speak to your children early and often about the dangers of addiction. Remind them that they can always speak to you, about anything. Encourage them not to be afraid to come to you if their friends are experimenting with drugs or pressuring them to try. If they feel you won’t be judgmental or angry, if they’re confident you won’t overreact or panic, they will be more likely to be open and honest with you about all of their experiences, both positive and negative.
Recovery for us is personal. Seventy-five percent of the Riverside Recovery staff has lived with addiction and successfully gone through the recovery process. Call us today: (800) 871-5440.