The only way to answer that is to watch for the warning signs. The most significant signs are changes in attitude, personality, behavior and appearance. While some of these key symptoms may be attributed to “other” causes, they are still enough of a concern to warrant having your child checked out by a health care professional.
Begin by learning the vocabulary of the drugs that most commonly appeal to young people and teenagers.
Cocaine — coke, rock, crack, base
Marijuana — pot, grass, weed, hash, joint
Acid — LSD, PCP, Ecstasy, peyote, MDMA
Inhalants — gas, glue, aerosols, white-out, markers
Heroin — dope, black tar, china white
Demerol — morphine, codeine
Stimulants — meth, speed, crank, black beauties, cocaine, bam, nicotine, caffeine
Depressants — tranqs, ludes, reds, yellow jackets, alcohol, sedatives, painkillers
Specific changes to watch for include:
Changes in eating habits either extreme increase or decrease
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Poor physical condition
Inability to sleep, unusual laziness, awake at unusual hours
Cold-sweaty palms, shaking hands, puffy face either flushed or pale
Smell of unusual substance on person, clothes or breath
Extreme hyperactivity/excessive talking
Needle marks anywhere on body (unless person is diabetic)
Changes in grooming habits
Possession of paraphernalia
Change in overall attitude/personality
Secretive or suspicious behavior
Change in activities or hobbies
Drop in grades/performance and/or attendance at school
Change in friends/doesn’t want to talk about new ones and avoids old ones
Difficulty in paying attention/decrease in attention span/forgetfulness
Has temper tantrums/low self-esteem/lack of energy or motivation
Extreme need for privacy
A growing drug abuse problem currently employed by young people/teens is to raid the medicine cabinets of elderly family members and neighbors, other family members and friends, as well as school medical dispensaries. In most cases the prescriptions are legal, but not to the one stealing the drugs. Only marijuana is more widely used among young people than illegally obtained prescription drugs. By not knowing or caring why the drug was prescribed, yet intentionally using them to alter their physical or mental condition, young people are putting themselves at risk for potential debilitating and/or life threatening health situations. It is dangerous and deadly and a problem that continues to grow.
The most commonly acquired prescription drugs include:
Pain relievers — OxyContin, Percoset, Percodan
Depressants tranquilizers, barbiturates — Xanax
Stimulants — Ritalin, amphetamines
Drug addiction is a chronic, but treatable disease that affects many families and nearly every community in every state. It is a compulsive behavior that addicts cannot break without help. Long-term addiction interferes with normal brain functions.
The goal of the Gila County Meth Coalition is to educate our local citizenry that it is better to not start using drugs than to go in to a rehabilitation program. However, if the addiction is already in place, there is hope and help available.
Next month’s topic will cover causes and treatment of addictions.
Presented by the Gila County Meth Coalition