Is my child an addict? Signs to watch out for

It’s natural to worry about the well-being of your children, especially when it comes to potential issues such as substance use disorder. This is a complex and often misunderstood concern which can affect individuals of any age. Substance use disorders can develop due to a number of factors; including genetics, environmental influences, and mental health issues. It isn’t a moral failing, and there is still hope for a brighter future.

Identifying early signs of substance use disorder can be difficult. If you are concerned about your child, here are some signs to look out for, ways to provide support, and some info about the help that is available.

Signs your child may have an addiction.

It’s important to keep in mind that the presence of any of the signs below do not necessarily mean your child is suffering from substance abuse disorder. There may well be other explanations for such behaviours – especially during teenage years. If you recognise some of these behaviours in your child, please ensure you do some further investigation into the primary causes for the changes. However, if more than a few of the following signs are co-occurring, there is a higher risk of addiction being present.

Changes in behaviour: Keep an eye out for sudden and significant changes in your child’s behaviour. This can include withdrawal from family and friends, a decline in academic performance, and/or a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.

Physical changes and symptoms: Ongoing substance use can lead to physical changes such as unexplained weight loss or gain or dramatic changes in appetite. Bloodshot eyes, enlarged or small pupils, tremors, slurred speech, or the smell of substances on breath and clothing may also indicate substance use.

Mood swings: Extreme fluctuations in moods such as enhanced irritability to sudden euphoria, may be indicative of substance use. Keep an eye on and pay close attention to emotional reactions that seem out of character for your child.

Secretive behaviour: Secrecy about friends, whereabouts, and activities can be a bit of a red flag. A sudden need for privacy or avoidance in communication can stem from hiding things they aren’t comfortable discussing or things your child knows they shouldn’t be doing.

Changes in friendships: Peer influence plays a significant role in adolescent behaviour. A shift in social circles or the development of new friendships may impact on your child’s choices to engage in substance use.

Ways to support your child through addiction.

Substance use disorder is a treatable condition. If you notice any of the above mentioned signs, reaching out for professional help is the first step towards recovery. And, it may not be your child who reaches out, it may be you. Once someone in the family takes that first step into acknowledging there is/may be a problem, and takes action to seek support, then positive change can start to happen.

Open communication: Foster an open and non-judgemental line of communication with your child. Let them know that your primary concern is their well being and encourage them to share their feelings and experiences. Create a safe space for your child to come to you and discuss their lives with you.

Seek professional help: Consult with your GP, addiction specialists or counsellors who can assess the situation and recommend an appropriate course of action.

Family Support: Addiction affects more than an individual, it can impact the entire family. Support is available to help navigate the impacts of substance use disorder, together. Family support can help your family, even if your child isn’t quite ready to seek help. In fact, family support programs can help you best support your child to become ready to get help! Family and Adolescent Change Therapy programs can be tailored to suit your families’ unique needs.

Identifying any potential signs that your child may have an addiction can be a challenging and emotional experience. Taking proactive steps and seeking professional help for the family makes a significant difference in someone’s journey to recovery. Through compassion and support, you can play a crucial role in helping your child. Remember, you are not alone.

If you are concerned about your loved one, please call us. We are here to help.