Drug abuse in the United States has become a major health care epidemic. It is also alarming to know that young people are among those who most manifest drug problems. More than 70,000 children go to the emergency department due to medication poisoning every year. In many of these cases, the poisoning is due to a child taking medicine belonging to an adult. Children visit emergency departments twice as often for medication poisoning than for poisonings from household products. [Trust for America’s Health, Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic, 2013]

If you know a friend or a family member who is suffering from drug abuse, the best way to help them is to understand the situation they are in and the support you can extend to them.

How Does Drug Addiction Affect the Brain?

Whenever a person is “high” with drugs, the level of dopamine in the brain is incredibly elevated. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that triggers the feeling of pleasure, which your brain will always long for. This is where addiction begins.

Drug abuse impairs the brain’s ability to think clearly and exercise good judgment. Addicts can lose control of their behavior and don’t feel normal when not taking drugs.

Those who are already suffering from addiction will often rationalize their need to take in drugs even if it’s changing their physical and mental well-being negatively.

What Can Parents Do?

It is often difficult for parents to admit drug abuse by their kids. It can generate confusion, anger, fear and depression. As parents, you need to carefully monitor your children’s activity. You may also want to regularly check places where drugs can be hidden such as backpacks, book shelves, DVD cases or make-up cases.

You may also want to engage them in healthy hobbies such as sports. But most importantly, find quality time for them. Be with them as much as you can afford, so they will not have to find solace in other people that may influence them to use drugs.