Causes and Symptoms of Substance Abuse
Addiction is a compulsive and chronic mental disorder that causes someone to habitually use a substance in an effort to achieve a desired outcome, usually a high. People can become addicted to many different things, usually because of the addictive nature of a substance. Nicotine, alcohol, sex, and drugs are the most common addictions in the United States.
The causes of addiction can vary, but usually stem from various risk factors. Some of these factors include:
- Inadequacies in early childhood development, whether nutritional or mental;
- Inconsistent or chaotic home environment;
- Genetic factors, or a genetic tendency to be at risk for addiction/addictive personality traits;
- Insufficient parental nurturing;
- Insufficient socialization in childhood, and/or aggressive or shy behavior in adolescence;
- Poor social coping and school performance;
- Falling in with the wrong crowd; being around drug use and being accustomed to it.
Though these factors do not guarantee a child will grow up to become an addict, they certainly make it easier to do. And those who do not grow up with any of these risk factors may also fall into addictions, typically as a coping method for something lacking in life, whether actual or perceived.
It is important to be aware of these risk factors, so as to guide children and adolescents away from the path of addiction. If you are afraid they may have already begun their way down that path, there are many various noticeable symptoms of substance abuse, including the following:
Friends and family may be among the first to recognize the signs of substance abuse. Early recognition increases chances for successful treatment. Signs to watch for include the following:
- Feelings of depression or hopelessness;
- Unusual aggressive or irritable behavior;
- Declining grades or participation in social activities
- Disappearing money or valuables
- Paraphernalia such as baggies, small boxes, pipes, and rolling paper
- Using addictive substances on a regular basis, pressuring others to use, or believing that the only way to have fun is to use these substances;
- Lying about money or valuables, or how much/often the substance is used; getting defensive about the use;
- Getting in trouble with the law, at school or work.
Early recognition of the risk factors by friends and family can help increase the chance that a person will not fall into abuse of a substance and become addicted. Also, early recognition of symptoms of addiction can be a tremendous help in successful treatment and stopping of that addiction. The earlier that it is caught, the easier it will be to stop.