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Teen Drug Abuse is not a Life Sentence: How to Overcome an Addiction

31.05.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“It’s really hard to admit it, but my son is a drug addict. He is 16 years old, and he has been using smoking mixtures for a year. I cannot understand how this could have happened. We have always done everything to keep him healthy and happy. There were no pre-requisites. Or I just didn’t notice any of them. As soon as I found it out, I immediately sent him to rehab. The treatment lasted for several months, but when it ended, his situation got even worse. Some money and valuables began to disappear from our house, and my son came home stoned. We have already had warnings from the police. I’m almost desperate and ready to do anything to save his life,” says Aleksandra, the mother of  drug-addicted teenager

A child using drugs is a tragedy for the family, for drug addiction is one of the most serious problems of society and one of the most dangerous diseases. It breaks lives, destroys families, and there can be no talk of a trusting relationship between drug addictive children and their parents. Parents are tormented by fear and guilt and it seems that the meaning of life has been lost. For children it is no less difficult because the addiction destroys their personality and drugs begin to control their lives. They feel guilt and shame before their parents, but they cannot stop the habit.

Of course, in the case of child drug addiction, prevention is much more effective than treatment. But now, in the 21st century, such addiction need not be a life sentence anymore. Parents should not despair – there is a way out even of such a difficult situation. In this article, we will tell you much about this disease – including ways to protect kids and teenagers from drugs and what you should do if your child is a drug addict who takes morphine or heroin.

Table of contents:

  1. Causes of child and adolescent drug addiction
  2. Stages of disease development
  3. Signs of child and teenage drug abuse
  4. Consequences of drug abuse in children and adolescents
  5. Prevention of drug addiction: some advice for parents
  6. 7Spsy behaviour modification technology

Causes of child and adolescent drug addiction

causes of child drug addiction

There is a stereotype that child drug addiction is only about disadvantaged families and criminal areas where kids have bad examples in front of their eyes. This stereotype is true only in part, now this disease affects even the most ordinary children from “good” families. Statistics say that child drug addiction is widespread in Russia. According to official data alone, about six thousand minors use drugs in the Russian Federation. In 2017, 22 children died from drug addiction, and about a thousand were poisoned. One third of these were children under 14 years old. [1] And this number is just those who were officially registered. Such disappointing data is just an indication that the matter is not limited to a marginal stratum of society.

But still, there is one generalaity, in most cases, child and adolescent drug addiction is caused by incorrect or insufficient parenting. Therefore, it makes no sense to blame a child or his friends for the dangerous habit. [2]

We will teach a negative attitude to drugs

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The causes of addiction are similar to those of alcohol dependence:

  • influence of the environment, older or respected peers;
  • the desire to get quick pleasure or relieve stress;
  • imitation of idols;
  • boredom and lots of spare time;
  • curiosity, desire to “get high” on the drug;
  • difficulties in communication, constant conflicts with others;
  • weakness, inability to say “no”, dependence on the opinions of others;
  • the feeling of loneliness, incomprehension, search for company, being in a group where one will be accepted;
  • dysfunctional family environment;
  • protest against parents and society;
  • genetic predisposition to addiction;
  • existing addictions – they increase the risk of drug abuse;
  • mental illnesses, mental developmental delay.

Stages of disease development

stages of addiction

Like any addiction, that of drugs is formed gradually. At the same time, the addiction development process directly depends on the type of drugs the child uses. Doctors distinguish four stages of the development of the disease: [3]

  1. At the first stage, it would be incorrect to talk about addiction or illness: a person just starts to try drugs and gets the first “high”. At this stage, two outcomes are possible, either the person continues to use or decides that he does not need it. If a child at this stage tells his parents that he, for example, has tried “weed”, it is possible to save him and avoid the consequences. No serious intervention is required.
  2. The second stage is the beginning of drug addiction development. The individual consciously continues to use drugs, plans the ‘fix’, looks for opportunities and company, and saves money for it. Their mental health begins to suffer. The addict cannot feel joy without psychoactive substances and protects and justifies the addiction, looking for a remedy in drugs against stress and complexes. The dose of the substance grows.
  3. At this stage of the disease, health problems occur. The addict experiences the first withdrawal symptoms. They lose control over their behaviour and may commit a crime. Tangible problems arise in social life, in the family and at work. Conflicts with the police may occur and drugs begin to rule a person’s life. At this stage, sufferers are no longer able to quit the habit by themselves.
  4. At the last stage, irreversible changes take place in the body. All that the addict is interested in is the next new dose and they cannot exist without a ‘fix’. Unfortunately, almost everyone who reaches this stage dies from an overdose.

In speaking about child and teen drug addiction, all these processes take place much faster than in adults. An unformed organism can “burn out” in just a few years. This is especially true about opium based drugs – heroin and morphine. Synthetic drugs usually cause addiction from the first use. Therefore, it is so important for parents to track drug addiction as soon as possible and to start treatment.

Signs of child and teenage drug abuse

It is possible to determine that a child is addicted to drugs by a variety of symptoms. Narcotic substances affect appearance, behaviour, and physiology, and in a child, these signs appear much stronger and more quickly than in adults. You can find them among the symptoms in the following table.

Behavioural changes– Loss of interest in previous hobbies;
– Decline in school performance;
– Abrupt changes in the social circle, loss of contacts with former friends;
– Unmotivated aggression;
– Apathy for no reason;
– Running away from home, refusing to answer questions about their pastimes;
– Complete refusal to obey parents;
– Frequent mood swings;
– Refusal to contact people, isolation from the community;
– Suicidal tendencies
Changes in appearance– The habit of wearing long sleeves in any weather;
– Neglect of personal hygiene;
– Grey skin of the face, unhealthy pallor;
– Swelling of the face and hands;
– Dry brittle hair;
– Hoarse voice;
– Distracted gaze, unnatural pupil constriction or dilation;
– Lack of pupil reaction to light;
– When using synthetic drugs – fast speech, crazy eyes, fussy actions, twisting of hands
Somatic signs– Lack of appetite for 2 days or more;
– Speech disorders, slurred or too fast speech, switching from topic to topic;
– Inability to concentrate, impaired memory and attention;
– Uncoordinated movements;
– Intolerance to bright light;
– Bouts of sweating;
– Nausea; Insomnia during 2 days or more

Depending on the way the drug is taken, other symptoms may appear: running nose or nasal congestion, watery eyes, dry lips, impaired sense of smell.

In addition, specific words may appear in a child’s speech: “space”, “acid”, “salt”, “spice”, “dope”, “junk”, “extracted hash”, “weed”, “straw”, “tina”, “hash”, “pills” etc. It is important to know the slang of drug addicts to recognize this in time, for example, overhearing a telephone conversation.

Consequences of drug abuse in children and adolescents​

Consequences of drug use in children

The main danger of drug addiction in childhood and adolescence is that hazardous substances act especially strongly on an unformed organism. They destroy the body and mental health of a teenager much more swiftly than an adult person.

Here are just some of the consequences of exposure to hazardous substances on the body:

  • Withdrawal – a state of physical dependence, when a person cannot do without drugs. It manifests itself as pain throughout the body, insomnia, dizziness, convulsions, and nausea. An addict can relieve unbearable pain only by taking another dose;
  • Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV, which are transmitted through multiple uses of syringes;
  • Disorders of the central nervous system: blockage of the brain parts that are responsible for memory and emotions. The further stage is a complete destruction of the central nervous system.
  • infertility;
  • Decreased immunity: the body of a drug addict copes much less efficiently even with ordinary acute respiratory infections;
  • Digestive system, liver and kidney diseases;
  • Heart failure;
  • Problems with blood pressure;
  • Hormonal disruptions;
  • Sexually transmitted diseases – as a result of neglect of contraceptives and a random choice of partners.

And, of course, one cannot fail to mention the social consequences of drug addiction. A drug-addicted person completely drops out of ordinary life, all his/her social ties are destroyed, and all achievements come to nought. A teenager, like an adult, may commit a crime to get a new dose and they become marginalized. A youngster who has taken up drugs, unfortunately, has almost no opportunities to go to university, build a career, start a family, or self-realize himself or herself in creative arts. The only way out is to start treating teen addiction as soon as possible.

Prevention of drug addiction: some advice for parents

Measures for the prevention of drug addiction in children should be activated as early as possible – best of all from the moment children begin socializing, for example, when they go to kindergarten. Then a negative attitude towards drugs will likely become a part of their personality, and the problem of addiction will not affect them.

And, of course, the personal example of parents is the best antidote to any trouble. If the parents are active and enthusiastic and their lifestyle is healthy, the child will strive to imitate them.

Psychologists offer different ways of preventing drug addiction. Let’s talk about some of them. [4]

Talk about the consequences

It is best to start these conversations when there is some reason for it – for example is if you are watching a movie together where drugs are mentioned. Tell your child about the consequences for a person who is addicted to drugs, how his/her life and health has been destroyed. Say that there is no “safe” dose: even a minimal amount of a substance has a destructive effect on one’s mental and physical health and many types of drugs cause addiction after the first use. It is also best to use the term “disease” rather than “addiction”.

Tell him/her about the romanticization of drug addiction. Explain to your child that, despite some propaganda, success is not associated with drug addiction. The opposite is true. Many famous people who used drugs quickly “burned out”, without having time to realize their creative potential.

Build trusting relationships in your family

Most often, drugs are used by children who feel rejected in the family, are afraid to come home, and do not trust their parents. The psychological climate in the family is very important. After all, if there is no trust, then children will relate their problems not to their parents, but rather to dubious “friends” who will offer an unwholesome solution. Children need to know that at home they are always loved and accepted as they are, no matter what happens. Then, if there is a danger in their lives, the parents will be the first to know about it.

Stay on top of your child’s life

Meet their friends, find out where they go after school and what they do and where they walk. It is also worth making contact with the homeroom teacher. Your observations will help you notice and react to any changes in your child’s life. But it is also important not to violate the personal boundaries of children. Reading personal correspondence and establishing surveillance is unacceptable. If a child finds out about this, you will lose his/her trust forever.

Teach your child to enjoy life

If your kid’s life is full of great things – friends, interesting hobbies, sports, theatres and movies, spending time with parents – you will be unlikely to need to wonder how to deal with child drug addiction, because the child will not look for quick pleasure in drugs and other addictions. Allow your child to try all the activities they like, help them to “find themselves”, to find out what they do and do not like. Childhood and adolescence are made just for that

7Spsy behaviour modification technology: a possible solution to the problem​

solving drug addiction problems in children

What if your child has already become a drug addict? The main thing that every parent who is faced with a disaster should remember is that punishment, heart-to-heart talks and entreaties will not necessarily change a child, much less a teenager. Unfortunately, this is how a drug addict mind works – a addicted person simply cannot be responsible for their behaviour.

We will teach a negative attitude to drugs

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

Parents are required to take particular actions that are guaranteed to help save children and adolescents from drugs. It is necessary to send the child to a course of treatment as soon as possible, where a specialist will help them not only to stop using drugs, but will help them to be able to instil healthy habits.

The 7Spsy course will help your child get rid of drug addiction. This is a patented technique of behavioural psychology based on the theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomskii.

This technique helps to identify the attitudes that led to addiction and change these to positive ones. Thus, the child learns a healthy model of behaviour in 2 to 6 weeks.

The 7Spsy Behaviour Modification Technology course takes place in a convenient remote mode. The course is suitable for children of 7 or years or older. A professional psychologist will lead you through the course. You may always contact them by e-mail, chat or by phone.

The advantage of 7Spsy is that it does not require registration with a narcologist or psychiatrist. The result of the fight against addiction will be complete liberation from it and the development of a persistent negative attitude towards drugs. This means that this terrible condition will not threaten your child’s future.


  1. The Prosecutor General’s Office counted six thousand drug addicts among children and adolescents in Russia (https://www.interfax.ru/russia/642145).
  2. Teenage drug addiction (https://psihomed.com/podrostkovaya-narkomaniya/).
  3. Zh. V. Taruts, Drug addiction as one of the types of addictive behaviour: a methodological guide.
  4. Prevention of drug addiction in the family (http://www.takzdorovo.ru/deti/podrostki/profilaktika-narkomanii-v-seme/).