Substance Abuse or Addiction

We live in a culture now that often tells us not to feel pain or discomfort and that it is ok to medicate yourself with videogames, sex, drugs, alcohol, shopping, or the latest distraction. Everybody has problems.  Do not believe that there are people that skate through life and never have a fear, doubt, or uncomfortable feelings.  The challenge here is to figure out how to get through the tough times and be better prepared for the next storm that comes on the horizon.

Between the age of 12 – 25 our brains are developing at an alarming rate, preparing us for adulthood decision making.  When we introduce these addictive behaviors into our brain as a way to cope with stress and negative emotions, we rob ourselves of an opportunity to grow and connect with others.

NOBODY has the desire to become addicted to a substance or other harmful behavior.  However, it happens to millions of people each year.

Signs that you or someone you know may have a drug or alcohol addiction include:

Psychological signals:

  1. use of drugs or alcohol as a way to forget problems or to relax
  2. withdrawal or keeping secrets from family and friends
  3. loss of interest in activities that used to be important
  4. problems with schoolwork, such as slipping grades or absences
  5. changes in friendships, such as hanging out only with friends who use drugs
  6. spending a lot of time figuring out how to get drugs
  7. stealing or selling belongings to be able to afford drugs
  8. failed attempts to stop taking drugs or drinking
  9. anxiety, anger, or depression
  10. mood swings

Physical signals:

  1. changes in sleeping habits
  2. feeling shaky or sick when trying to stop
  3. needing to take more of the substance to get the same effect
  4. changes in eating habits, including weight loss or gain

Most people need help getting and staying off of substances or stopping addictive behavior.  Do not be afraid to ask for help.    Ask any adult you trust OR contact 1-800-273-8255 to get the conversation started.  You do not need to struggle alone.

Submitted by Stephanie Lange. Stephanie has her Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan and has been employed by Dakota High School as the Student Assistance Specialist since 1999.

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