The Drug Class Blog

Mar 24

Signs Symptoms and Causes

Parents and Teachers Need to know everything about signs of drug abuse and addiction

Knowing the signs of drug abuse and addiction will help you with identifying problems with family and friends. Addictions are defined as a compulsive need for and use of habit-forming substance — heroin, tobacco or alcohol — characterized by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal, and known by the user to be harmful.

It is considered a disease because drugs change the brain — they change its structure and how it works. Addiction is similar to other diseases, such as heart disease, because both disrupt the normal, healthy functions of the organs; have serious harmful consequences; are preventable, treatable, and if left untreated, can last a lifetime.

These brain changes are long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs. The initial decision to take drugs is mostly voluntary. However, when drug abuse takes over, a person’s ability to exert self control becomes seriously impaired. Brain imaging studies from drug-addicted individuals show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control.

Scientists believe these changes alter the way the brain works and helps to explain the Early use of drugs increases a person’s chances of more serious drug abuse and addiction. This is why preventing drug addiction is a critical time in adolescence. Drugs change brains and can lead to addiction and other serious problems. Preventing early use of drugs or alcohol may reduce the risk of progressing to later abuse and addiction.

The risk of drug abuse increases greatly in times of transition, such as changing schools, moving or divorce. In early adolescence, when children advance from elementary through middle school, they face new and challenging social and academic situations. Often during this period, children are exposed to addictive substances such as cigarettes and alcohol for the first time. When they enter high school, teens may encounter greater availability of drugs, drug abuse by older teens and social activities where drugs are used. At the same time, many behaviors that are normal aspects of their developments, such as the desire to do something new and risky, may increase teen tendencies to experiment with drugs.

Some teens may give in to the urging of drug-abusing friends to share the experience. Others may think that taking drugs — such as steroids — will improve their appearance or their athletic performance, or that abusing substances will ease their anxiety in social situations. Teens still developing judgment and decision-making skills may limit their ability to assess risks accurately and make sound decisions about using drugs.

Drugs and alcohol can disrupt brain function in critical areas and behavior control. It is not surprising that teens who abuse alcohol and other drugs often have family and school problems, poor academic performance, health-related problems — including mental health — and most often involvement with the juvenile justice system. I

f you recognize any of this in your child, family member, loved ones, friends or neighbors, help is available by calling Addiction Services in your area..

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