Before I had my daughter, I worked in the alcohol and other drug addictions (AODA) field. I was a case manager who helped clients access treatment services. I coordinated those services, made referrals, and worked with them on defining their goals. While much of my job was about the present and the future (What do you want to see different in your life? What do we need to do to make changes?) Some of it was spent finding out about their story – their past.
I worked with a diverse group of people. Some were very young (all clients were at least 18 years old) while others were much older. Some had college degrees, jobs, families, and cars while others were living in homeless shelters. I saw how addiction affected people from all walks of life. When discussing when they started using, most shared that they started as teenagers. Usually it started out as experimental or recreational drug use, but it developed into an addiction. Many of my clients couldn’t see or wouldn’t acknowledge the addiction until their lives were in serious jeopardy.
My daughter is still very young, but needing to have an open dialogue with her about the dangers of drugs is in the back of my mind. It seems kids are trying things younger and younger so waiting until they are in high school is often too late. With summer fast approaching, I think it’s a good time to be extra observant. I don’t know about you, but when I was a teen, summer was a prime time for doing things I shouldn’t have been doing … too much extra time on our hands without school being in session.
While it’s ideal to keep your kids from getting mixed up with substances in the first place, they can be sneaky sometimes. But, the sooner you notice the signs of drug addiction, the sooner you can get them help. And the sooner they get help the easier it is to be successful in treatment and recovery. You may notice negative changes in behavior, school performance, health issues, and their personal appearance. See the infographic below for more information.