Dr. Trish Henrie-Barrus –
In my work with children and teenagers, I am constantly reminded of how susceptible they are to addictions. There are various reasons for this but the most important one is that the brain isn’t fully developed at this age.
According to psychologists, children are being subjected to material about alcohol, drugs and sexual material before they are mentally prepared to understand or evaluate what they are viewing.
Our children and teenagers simply do not have the “brainpower” or mental capabilities to fight against the material to which they are exposed. In other words, these images and messages might be with them for a very long time if not for years and children are more prone to develop addictions from this exposure.
So how do we parents know if our child has a problem with drugs, alcohol, pornography, gaming or other addictive behaviors?
Warning Signs of Addiction
(For Children and Teenagers – It is important to remember that these signs are just that- signs. They may not ALL be apparent in your child. Some of these signs also can also be present in many mental disorders such as depression, but when coupled with 4,7, 8, addiction is more than likely present along with the depression.)
LOW SELF-ESTEEM: Has a problem with who he/she is and their worth. May feel excessive shame or guilt.
PLEASER: May have a hard time saying “no” to others. Believes that other’s needs are more important than their own. Often present along with #1.
POOR RELATIONSHIP WITH PARENTS: May believe that the parent has unrealistic expectations of them. May become increasingly belligerent and oppositional.
ISOLATES: Increasingly wants to be alone. Becomes more and more secretive and has a hard time communicating feelings and needs. Abandons or loses friends.
LOSS OF AMBITION: Grades in school may drop. Has little desire to do homework, help around the house or do homework. Loses interest in things that previously brought them pleasure.
POOR INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: May lose pleasure in participating in social situations and they may seem awkward and unsure of themselves.
SLEEP: Has erratic sleep patterns. A parent may find the child awake at all hours of the night.
SUDDEN MOOD SWINGS: Switches from sweet, kind and or happy to depressed, anxious or angry. Denies that anything is wrong when approached.
BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS AND MISTAKES: Parents, teachers — it’s always someone else’s fault if anything goes wrong. May also say “If you loved me you would …. Trust me.”
IS IN DENIAL: If questioned about their behavior or if they are taking drugs, they quickly deny. They believe they can stop using drugs at any point.
MAKES EVERYONE ELSE RESPONSIBLE FOR their FEELINGS: The user says, “You make me angry” instead of, “I am angry” or, “You made me do that” instead of “I am responsible for what I just did.”
HYPERSENSITIVITY: Is easily insulted especially about their competence, looks, or self-worth; any comment is automatically assumed to be criticism.
ABUSE: Was abused physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually as a child – Important: Past abuse may increase the likelihood of addictive behavior, but assumptions cannot be made on knowledge of past history alone.
ENTITLEMENT: Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations.
LACKS EMPATHY: Is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
At WholeHealth Recovery we believe that addiction is a chronic disease of brain reward neurotransmitters. Dysfunction in these neurotransmitters leads to specific biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. We correct these deficiencies by amino acid drips, vitamins and proper diet. This is followed up by a psychological program designed to correct addictive thinking patterns.
The research shows that most patients enter and leave four or more treatment programs without success. Eighty percent or more who do manage to complete treatment will relapse in less than a year.