DRUG ABUSE & ADDICTION
DESCRIPTIONDrug abuse and addiction is a psychological or physiological need for chemical substances that produce temporary pleasant mood changes. The central nervous system, liver, kidneys, and blood are involved. Drug abuse and addiction can affect both sexes, all ages, but it rarely occurs in early childhood, except in newborns of addicted mothers.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Psychotherapy or counseling.
Hospitalization for drug-withdrawal symptoms.
Self-care after diagnosis. (The most important part of your child's treatment.)
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Depends on the substance of abuse. Most produce a temporary pleasant mood; relief from anxiety; false feelings of self-confidence; increased sensitivity to sights and sounds (including hallucinations); altered activity levels -- either stupor and sleeplike states or frenzies; unpleasant or painful symptoms when the abused substance is withdrawn.
Substances of abuse may produce in your child addiction (a physiological need) or dependence (a psychological need). The most common substances of abuse include: nicotine; alcohol (has greatest number of addicts); marijuana; amphetamines; barbiturates; cocaine; opiates, including codeine, heroin, methadone, morphine, and opium; psychedelic drugs, including PCP ("angel dust"), mescaline, and LSD; volatile substances, such as glue, solvents, and paints.
RISK FACTORSIllness that requires prescription pain relievers or tranquilizers, family history of drug abuse, and genetic factors (possibly). Some children and adolescents may be more susceptible to addiction.
Alcohol consumption, fatigue or overwork, poverty, and psychological problems, including depression, dependency, or poor self-esteem.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEInstructions for your child: Don't socialize with persons who use and abuse drugs; seek counseling for mental-health problems, such as depression or chronic anxiety, before they lead to drug problems; develop wholesome interests and leisure activities; after surgery, illness, or injury, discontinue the use of prescription pain relievers and tranquilizers as soon as possible. Don't use more than you need.
MEDICAL TESTSMedical history and physical exam by a doctor, and laboratory blood tests for liver, kidney, and brain function.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSAIDS; sexually transmitted diseases, which are more likely among addicts; severe infections, such as endocarditis, hepatitis, or blood poisoning, from intravenous infections with non-sterile needles; malnutrition; accidental injury to oneself or others while in a drug-induced state; loss of job or family; irreversible damage to body organs; death caused by overdose.
Curable with strong motivation, good medical care, and support from family and friends.
HOME CAREEncourage your child to do the following: admit you have a problem; seek professional help; be open and honest with your family and good friends, and ask their help; avoid friends who tempt you to resume your habit; join self-help groups.
MEDICATIONDisulfiram (Antabuse) for alcoholism. This drug produces severe illness when alcohol is consumed.
Methadone for narcotic abuse. This drug is a less-potent narcotic used to decrease the severity of physical withdrawal symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe:
DIET & FLUIDS
Urge your child to eat a normal, well-balanced diet that is high in protein. Vitamin supplements may be necessary if your child suffers from malnutrition.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?After addiction is broken.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child abuses or is addicted to drugs and wants help.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs in treatment may produce side effects.