The No. 1 question of parents is: Why does my child use drugs? Is there some environmental influence involved in home life, work, school or friends? Is there another cause? The question still remains. Why?
Some research shows a predisposition toward addiction while other data leans toward a chemical imbalance brought on by chemical dependency.
Another theory even points to hereditary illness on a genetic level. In fact, 40 percent to 60 percent of current findings points in this direction showing that genetics are a major factor in addiction vulnerability.
While no particular philosophy has been singled out as “the one,” stages of addiction are categorized in the following manner:
Use: No negative consequences are experienced.
Misuse: When a subject begins to experience negative reactions and consequences.
Abuse: Subject continues to use even though he/she is aware of negative impact on actions.
Dependency: Use is compulsive at this stage.
What drives the compulsion? Researchers believe it may be related to the amount of dopamine in the individual’s brain (the genetic connection). Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that makes one feel good. Unfortunately, certain drugs (heroine, cocaine, meth, etc.) hijack the reward system and give the user a false sense of heightened sensations. Tests show that students who used drugs to help them perform better actually had to use more “brain” power to focus on the activity than a student who is a non-user, thus implicating that drug users were more likely to continue using the so-called performance enhancement drugs because they felt the necessity to do so.
The good news is that treatment is available, but using medications alone to reduce the desire for drugs is not enough. Getting family members involved is very important. If family members are also drug- or alcohol-dependent, it may be necessary to get surrogates involved.
It is important in the healing process to determine family power patterns; who has it and how it is shared. Having someone to confide in is paramount to help the abuser control urges. Teens especially need to be given guidance on how to navigate through necessary social skills and choose the right friends to assist in recovery.
Getting involved in Narcotics Anonymous is another alternative. The first step is to recognize and admit to having an addiction and asking for help.
For questions or more information on the Gila County Meth Coalition, contact chair, Claudia DalMolin at the Gila County Sheriff’s Office (928) 425-4440; co-chair, Bianca DalMolin at (928) 701-1790; facilitator, Peggy Huggins at (928) 425-1887; or media liaison, Lu DuBois at (928) 467-2515.
Presented by the Gila County Meth Coalition