ADDICTION AND THE YOUNG

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention
June 26, 2021

ADDICTION AND THE YOUNG

ADDICTION AND THE YOUNG

The young of any generation receive the best and the worst of what the previous generation never had. They, thus receive an ever-changing clay as life which they can choose to shape to their maximum potential using the best of what is available or choose to go on a self-destructive path using the worst of what is available.

The youth today are the special ones who have the world literally in the palm of their hands. There is so much information bombardment. The minds that are already highly impressionable are spoilt for choice. There is immense scope for intellectual enhancement and as much scope of emotional imbalance consequently. They, many a time get things before they even ask for it, fed by a generation that does not wish to deprive them. This, however, leads to a sense of entitlement and an inability to face discomfort and deal with adversity. The easy way out and desire for quick fixes pushes them towards temporary escapes like alcohol and drug use, abuse and inevitable addictions.

In India the legal age for drinking hard liquor is on an average 21-25 years. But we see drinking beginning at as young an age as 14-15 years.

Probable reasons for use

Young kids begin drinking with the intention of doing something taboo, then they discover it lowers their inhibitions and it seems to be more fun. Many a time seeing their parents drinking and getting intoxicated on a regular basis makes them think this is a norm. Family history of addictions, dysfunctional families, childhood abuse, emotional traumas, a need to “fit in” may incline them towards using .

 

Family Environmental reasons

  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drug dependency of parents
  • Parental abuse and neglect of children
  • Antisocial, sexually deviant, or mentally ill parents
  • High levels of family stress, large, overcrowded family, including financial strain
  • Unemployed or underemployed parents
  • Parents with little education
  • Socially isolated parents
  • Single female parent without family/ other support
  • High level of marital and family conflict and / or family violence
  • Parental absenteeism due to separation, divorce, or death
  • Lack of family rituals
  • Frequent family moves

Child Vulnerabilities

  • Child of alcohol, tobacco, or abuser of other drugs
  • Less than 2 years between the child and its older/ younger siblings
  • Birth defects, including possible neurological and neuro-chemical dysfunctions
  • Neuropsychological vulnerabilities – Like ADHD
  • Physically disabled
  • Physical or mental health problems
  • Learning disability

Adolescent Behavioural Issues

  • Lack of bonding to society (family, school and community)
  • Rebelliousness and nonconformity
  • Resistance to authority
  • Strong need for independence
  • Cultural alienation
  • Fragile ego
  • Feelings of failure
  • Present versus future orientation
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of self confidence
  • Low self-esteem
  • Inability to form positive close relationships vulnerability of negative peer pressure

Adolescent Issues

  • School failure and dropout/at risk of dropping out
  • Delinquency
  • Violent acts
  • Gateway drug use like marijuana use for example.
  • Other drug use and abuse
  • Early unprotected sexual activity
  • Teenager pregnancy / teen parenthood
  • Unemployed or underemployed
  • At risk of being unemployed
  • Mental health problems
  • Suicidal

Effects on the Brain and Risks involved:

The brain of a human being develops till age 21 years. Adolescents tend to binge and mix drinks    i.e. having large quantities of alcohol in a short span of time. This affects thinking, learning and memory, as the hippocampus [the region that is responsible for this] gets damaged.. The pre-frontal lobe of the brain gets damaged affecting the abilities of planning, reasoning, decision making and impulse control.

Risk behaviors increase in the form of engaging in unsafe, unprotected sex, fights, violent crimes, homicides, suicides, accidents due to DUI etc. Sexual assaults and date rapes increase. Grades are affected.

The patterns of drug consumption have also changed. Alcohol intake is not to savor the taste but to get completely “wasted”. Marijuana today is no longer just a “herb” but comes in very potent forms and adulterated with chemicals. We have treated too many young people with addiction to only marijuana and have seen their lives wasted by dropping off studies and being nonproductive.

Marijuana gets one acquainted with dealers and users who deal in other drugs, thus, it becomes  a “gateway” for further use. A naturally curious adolescent and young mind craving for new experiences does not even realize before it is trapped in usage of drugs that are  addictive even on single use.

Today heroin is laced with fentanyl, Nbome is sold as LSD, mefedrone as cocaine, etc. and these are extremely addictive and potentially fatal.

Identifying Use

Physical Signs

  • Bloodshot, Dull-looking, Watering eyes
  • Drowsiness
  • Manic/hyper behaviour
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Needle marks on arms
  • Weight loss
  • Constant desire for junk food
  • Malnutrition
  • Some forms of acute acne
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

Behavioural Signs

  • Irresponsible behaviour
  • Argumentative behaviour (beyond what is normal adolescent rebellion)
  • Lack of motivation
  • Solitary behaviour (staying in a room all day)
  • Constant desire to be away from home
  • Non-participation in family activities
  • New, unusual friends
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lying
  • Changes in speaking patterns; rapid or slow speech
  • Legal problem (drunk driving, coming home drunk or high)

Other Tell-Tale Signs

  • Drugs missing from medicine cabinet
  • Missing wine or liquor
  • Falling grades
  • Truancy
  • Car accidents
  • Missing clothing or possessions
  • Strange phone calls
  • Obsession with loud music
  • Fascination with flashing light displays
  • Inability to account for allowance or wages
  • Use of eye drops (clears redness from eyes)
  • Use of incense (masks the odour of pot)
  • Odd, small containers in pockets, purses, drawers
  • White specks on nostrils or clothing (sniffing cocaine/correction fluids)

The young of today are thus looking for answers in drugs/alcohol, fanaticism, etc. … the world gets more virtual and real time communication with family diminishes. The families shifting to micro family structures, conversation times with children is affected who look to answer with their peers who are in the same boat or the internet that can be misleading.  A grounding within themselves is lost. This intelligence, curiosity, and drive if it can be channelized through meditative practices inwards, then there can be tremendous progress in every sphere in life, physical, psychological, and spiritual. Else it is going to be a zombie world where a substance is taken for everything, from waking up[coffee], to work, to stay alert [Adderall], to stay calm[alprazolam] to sleep [alcohol, valium] and would be apocalyptic.

The young, already addicted, need to be guided to meet an experiential addiction counsellor. They should be spoken to by the family in the morning before they start using, to share what they are going through by being assertive.  The Counsellor motivates the youth to accept help at the right time. The family is also counselled to stop their enabling behaviors and create unmanageability to coax them to accept help.

We at Anatta Humanversity look at helping our young clients to be self-sufficient, pro-life individuals who do not find the need to use drugs/alcohol, through our voluntary, non-medical, Alternate Life therapy program involving meditation, introspection and counseling facilitated in residential ambiences that are luxurious.

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