Perhaps this article is a way for me to exorcise my demons. Maybe it comes under the heading of “paying it forward.” I know that I will lay my soul bare.
It is my sincerest intention to help parents steer their children clear of dangerous drugs so said children don’t make the same mistakes I did. If even one child is saved because of this article it was all worth it.
With recent media revelations of young people engaging in such new methods for getting high as “whip its” http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/dangerous-teen-craze-whip-making-comeback/story?id=16006130 and “bath salts” http://gma.yahoo.com/bath-salts-dangerous-drug-inccreasing-across-us-065109986–abc-news-health.html I felt the sense of urgency to share with parents that which I know about drug addiction, having learned it the hard way on the drug filled streets of New Jersey.
At the height of my drug use I engaged in all kinds of reckless behavior. We would smoke several joints and then ski the diamond (expert) slopes of some of the northeast’s most challenging ski mountains. We would empty the contents of Dexatrim Diet Capsules or other speed capsules into straight scotch and drink the nasty concoction. Sometimes we would take Quaaludes the size of Alka-Seltzer tablets. I was told on more than one occasion that these jumbo size Quaaludes are actually used as horse tranquilizers. If these pills could knock a horse down you can imagine their influence on us!
My drug use included alcohol of all types, marijuana, hashish, cocaine, mescaline, Quaaludes and speed. I never used any drugs by injection. Am I proud of myself for having ingested all of this poison? Damn No! It damned near killed me. However, my personal experience with such a wide array of narcotics qualifies me to offer the reader a street smart guide of what kinds of behavior drug using youth exhibit. I would like to add that I’ve been clean and sober for the past 25 years.
Below listed are some of the more tell tale signs that your child is using drugs. Some may seem painfully obvious and yet if you are in the crisis mode that comes with having a family member on drugs they may be overlooked.
- · Changes in sleep habits. More often than not young people get high in the evening though this is not a universal time. As such, they stay awake until all hours of the night. No surprise here that they start sleeping later in the morning, perhaps interfering with school or work attendance.
- · Change of wardrobe. The user may begin to take less pride in their appearance or no pride at all. Noticeable drop in personal hygiene as well.
- · Bad temper. The user becomes much more irritable and may display anger at the most innocuous of comments or behavior on the parents’ part. You tell your child to “have a nice day” as he walks out the front door and he turns around and gives you a death stare as if he wants to have you for lunch.
- · Tardiness. As I mentioned in my own experience above, the user especially when high loses all track of time. He shows up for dinner after you’ve already cleaned the dishes and has the audacity to ask “am I late?”
- · Failure to return phone calls. Drug users, especially hard core addicts have a different set of priorities than you or I. They are focused on getting their next score. Often they could care less about any messages on their phone other than those from their pusher.
- · Sudden change in friends. The serious drug user may renounce even his oldest friends if they are not “turning on” like he is. He will replace these friends with other druggies like himself.
- · Loss of interest in previous activities. To an addict, things that don’t involve the habit can seem mundane. While you’re asking him to shoot some hoops he may be thinking about shooting up.
- · Drop in grades at school. Long term drug use can affect memory as well as many cognitive skills. If it was able to make me forget my own name as mentioned above, think about how difficult calculus will become for someone who’s hooked.
- · Excessive use of cologne. Marijuana and hashish smoking produces very distinct odors on the user’s clothes. They will try to mask this smell with any strong aftershave or cologne they have available.
- · Changes in speech and verbalization. You may find your child repeating things over and over again because they don’t remember what they said. Speech can also be slurred or the actual pitch may be noticeably different than before.
- · More prone to injuries. Drugs seriously impair motor skills. A high person using a lawnmower or other power tools is a recipe for disaster.
- · Lying or stealing. If you ask your child whether or not he is using drugs you’ll get an emphatic no. Then check your purse or wallet. That may be all the proof you will need.
- · Noticeable nervous ticks or twitching. Many drugs act on the central nervous system. Your child may not even realize that he’s displaying this characteristic. An old friend of mine used to repeatedly slap himself while jokingly saying “there’s nothing wrong with me.” Unfortunately this joke sometimes plays out for real in the world of the drug user.
I hope I haven’t overwhelmed the reader. These are many but by no means, all of the signs that your child may be mixed up in drugs. If your child or adolescent is exhibiting any of these behaviors get him or her to a rehab facility or see a qualified mental health expert. If you have an adult user in your home you may not be able to compel them to seek treatment. I have it on good authority from a staffer named Alex at the Watershed Treatment Program that sometimes “tough love” is required when dealing with young adult users. While it may be hard for you as a parent to ask your young adult (who may still be a child in your eyes) to leave the house it is often the most effective treatment there is. When the addict has to support himself and finds himself having to choose between spending his income either on drugs or on food and shelter often he will straighten up quite rapidly.
If you think your son or daughter is a user don’t be complacent and think that the problem will just go away. If you think you can simply wish the problem away, you’ll be in for the roller coaster ride of your life.