Summer holidays have arrived and it’s time for students to head home from college and teenagers to look forward to spending time outside school. According to Dr. Indra Cidambi, an addiction expert and a leading name in Addiction Medicine, excessive free time on their hands and, invariably, no adult supervision, results in enhancing the susceptibility of these kids to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. That’s why this is the right time to keep a close watch on your children’s habits and look for any evidence of addiction. It has also recently been found that adolescents are more exposed to the dangers of substance abuse in the summertime.
Dr. Cidambi has been working with patients suffering from substance abuse disorders for more than 10 years and has observed that people who have addiction issues began experimenting when they were as young as 13 years old – with marijuana. Therefore, the sooner you talk to your children about substance abuse and look out for warning signs, the better. Although we are all aware that addiction brings about a change in an individual, it is often not easy to recognize the signs in your own kids as they take you by surprise and are often confused with the challenges of growing up.
There are 5 common changes that can be identified in people suffering from substance abuse. Dr. Cidambi speaks about these changes:
- First, one can notice a change in friends. As your child starts getting addicted and substances take precedence and start consuming your kid’s life, it typically results in a change in who they hang out with. Your child starts spending more time with his or her “new friends” who support and approve your kid’s newly discovered lifestyle, while the old group of friends slowly start disappearing as they do not want to be a part of such behavior or activities. Dr. Cidambi believes that, in many cases, adolescents end up with a substance abuse problem as a solution to overcome stress or gain acceptance by their peer group, whom they find to be “cool.” She adds that it is necessary to speak to your children each day and try to be aware of what is happening in their lives, help them to understand their feelings, and nurture an atmosphere where they can turn to you first and seek assistance in finding a solution to the issues bothering them.
- Second, one should be cautious about changes in behavior. According to Dr. Cidambi, substance abuse seen in young children can be reflected in changes in mood, difficulties in doing homework or slipping grades in school, social interaction changes, worsening mood swings, and increased risk-taking. Dr. Cidambi further explains that one can easily notice the changes in a person during social interactions. For example, if your kid is extrovert but, all of a sudden, prefers to keep to himself or herself or looks away when speaking to anyone, you should be concerned. If your child is irritated, stays depressed or morose, that should also ring alarms bells as it could be a telltale sign. Automobile accidents, driving irresponsibly or recklessly, and unexplained scratches or dents on the vehicle could be early warning signs.
- Third, changes in appearance should be looked at carefully. Dr. Cidambi states that if your child’s appearance catches you off-guard, chances are that something is wrong. She adds that if your kid becomes sloppy about the way they dress, sports an untidy or disheveled look or suffers from a continuing case of a runny nose, it could be time for you to sit down and talk to your child. Although it is not easy to accept the harsh fact that your kid is gradually starting to look like an addict, it is vital to identify and recognize changes in the way they look; particularly, glassy or red eyes, inexplicable marks on the legs or arms or a preference for arm-covering clothing in summer, and incessant scratching of the arms and face.
- Fourth, a change in their favorite hobbies deserves attention. Dr. Cidambi points out that if your child does not enjoy their hobbies or the things that they loved doing previously, like playing soccer, dancing, ice-skating, or training in gymnastics or martial arts, it could be that they have become obsessed with acquiring and abusing alcohol or drugs and it is dominating all facets of their being. The hobbies that they once found stimulating seem to lose their importance. The activities or hobbies that had positive and constructive elements and resulted in emotional and intellectual motivation fail to attract them as they turn to alcohol and drugs to deal with the emptiness this creates.
- Lastly, a change in eating habits is one of the most easily noticeable signs of substance abuse. Dr. Cidambi emphasizes that usually, parents tend to quickly notice this sign of substance abuse. Based on what they’ve become dependent on, your kid can develop several new food habits, the sudden urge to keep eating (aka the “munchies”) or a loss of appetite. These sudden shifts in dietary habits can result in a harmful effect on your kid’s health and wellbeing and nutritional requirement and need to be dealt with.
If you’re worried about your children and are exploring options for drug rehab in New Jersey, you can contact us for guidance and more details on treatment options for addiction, signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and suboxone withdrawal, and substance abuse evaluation. For more information, please visit us at www.recoveryCNT.com
Dr. Cidambi is a leader in addiction treatment and innovator of safe and effective ambulatory (outpatient) detoxification level of care for alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, and suboxone. Prior to founding the Center for Network Therapy, she completed her residency in Psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn and an Addiction Medicine Fellowship at NYU/Bellevue Hospital in New York. Due to the successful detoxification program, Dr. Cidambi was featured frequently by media outlets, including NPR, CBS, NY Times, and Wall Street Journal.