How to curb Substance Abuse among Children

Substance use – refers to occasional use of alcohol or other drugs without developing tolerance or withdrawal symptoms when not in use. Drug can be used for experimental (new experiences) or recreational purposes.

Substance Misuse – refers to the inappropriate use of prescribed or non- prescribed medicine, but not for pleasure or other non-medicinal purposes.  A common example is “more will work better”

Substance abuse – can be defined as a pathological use of alcohol or hard drugs, which is characterized by daily intoxication, inability to reduce consumption, and impairment in social activities.

Substance addiction – also called substance dependence or chemical dependency, is a disease that is characterized by a destructive pattern of drug abuse that leads to significant problems involving tolerance to or withdrawal from the substance, as well as other problems that substance abuse can cause for the victim, either socially or in terms of their work or school performance.  It starts from occasional use into compulsive use/addiction from a stick of cigarette to packets of cigarette

Abused Substances are in Five Categories

1)  Depressants: These substances result in behavioural sedation and they decrease central nervous system activity and reduce levels of body arousal. Examples include-Alcohol, Barbiturates-sedatives, Benzodiazepines-anti anxiety drugs: Diazepam, lexotan and intrazepam.

2) Stimulants: These substances cause us to be more active and alert and can elevate mood. They include Amphetamines (Ritalin), Cocaine, Nicotine as in tobacco products, and Caffeine as in coffee, chocolate, and many soft drinks. Users enjoy the feelings of alertness, energy, confidence exhilaration and reduced fatigue.

3) Opiates: The major effect of these substances is to produce analgesia temporally (reduce pain) sand euphoria. Included in this category are Heroine, Codeine, and morphine.

4) Hallucinogens: The major effects of these substances are the alternation of mental and emotional perception and distortion of sensory perception resulting in delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations. Hallucinogens include Ecstasy, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and Cannabis/Marijuana. Cannabis is the most widely abused illicit psychoactive substance in Africa and its plant grows wild in most of the countries. It can also be made into a tea or pepper soup and porridge. In addition, cannabis can lead to infertility and lack of motivation.

5) Others: Organic/Liquid solvent or Inhalants: Inhalants are one of the most commonly abused groups of substances due to their accessibility. E.g. Air freshener, Paints, Pit latrine fumes, Petrol, Date rape drugs (Rohypnol), Anabolic steroids:  These substances are abused by bodybuilders and other athletes. Ingestion of these drugs can lead to aggression, paranoia, infertility, and organ failure.

Warning Signs of Substance Use

  • Sudden personality changes that include abrupt changes in work or school attendance, quality of work, work output, grades, discipline.
  • Unusual flare-ups or outbreaks of temper.
  • Withdrawing or isolating from family.
  • Withdrawal from responsibility.
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual promiscuity.
  • Health complaints: cough, runny or bloody nose, nausea.
  • Trouble getting up in the morning.
  • Disappearance of alcohol in the house.
  • Increased need for money.
  • Paranoia, irritability, anxiety.
  • General changes in overall attitude.
  • Not wanting parents to meet friends.
  • Loss of interest in what were once favorite hobbies and pursuits.
  • Changes in friends and reluctance to have friends visit or talk about them.
  • Abrupt decline in attendance or performance at school or work.
  • Difficulty in concentration, paying attention.
  • Sudden jitteriness, nervousness, or aggression.
  • Increased secretiveness
  • Wearing of sunglasses at inappropriate times.
  • Continual wearing of long-sleeved garments particularly in hot weather or reluctance to wear short-sleeved attire when appropriate.

Inability to Recognize These Signs Make Curbing Substance Abuse among Children Difficult

How to Curb Substance Abuse among Children

  1. Be vigilant as parents and recognize the warnings signs revealed above
  2. Do a routine check of your Children’s school bags, pockets and rooms
  3. Educate them on dangers of drug abuse
  4. Allow them to do toxicology if you saw that they started to use and they are denying
  5. show them pictures or stories of celebrities in ruin as a result of drug
  6. reward them when they are found clean of psychoactive drugs
  7. Watch the friends they keep, if you identify psychoactive users among them, advice your child to keep off

Godly Counsel to Help Your Child Keep Off From Psychoactive Substances

  • Does God support substance use in any form? ( Proverbs 20:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31)
  • Can substance abuse help you to know God? (Check 1 Peter 2:2)
  • Should you crave for cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs as a child of God? (1 Peter 2:2)
  • Does substance abuse help you to fulfill your God-given destiny? (Check Hebrews 12:1)
  • Does substance abuse actually give you life? (Check John 6:53-58)
  • Does your life really depend on substance use? (Check John 15:5)
  • Does substance abuse really help you to gain strength for living?(Philippians 4:13)
  • Can substance abuse be a strategy of the devil to destroy your life? (Check John 10:10).
  • Do people and God celebrate you because you abuse drugs? (Check Proverbs 11:10).

Conclusion/ Food For Thought

If our young people lose their brain to hard drugs, it may be difficult to get it back. Kidney transplant may be possible; but brain transplant is impossible. Prevention is better than cure.

Parents should be vigilant. However, don’t be hostile to them. Show them love so that they can reveal deep secrets to you. Be their friend, not a domineering parent.

A Whats App group discussion with Parents in commemoration of the International Day for Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2020; a day to recognize the problem illicit drugs represents to society and raise awareness of the dangers associated with illicit drugs use. UN June awareness day.

The facilitator, Adedotun Samuel AJIBOYE is a PhD holder in Clinical Psychology. He is a practicing clinical psychologist at Mental Health Department of Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti.

He has authored two books centered on Drug Abuse Management. He is passionate to curb drug abuse menace and *promote good mental health in our society* Moreso, he presents talks in Churches, conferences, media houses on how to improve emotional and psychological well being of individuals

He also pastors in the Redeemed Christian Church of God

1 thought on “How to curb Substance Abuse among Children”

  1. Insightful insights..
    Such presentation like this can also be encouraged among private school owners, public schools & in the parents teachers stakeholders meeting for broader reach..

    More grace..

    Best regards

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