Is Your Kid an Addict?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 4 out of every 25 people over the age of 12 have an addiction. When six addicts are put together, one of them will have a multiple addiction problems. This means that for every standard classroom size of 25, there are 4 middle/high school kids who are already an addict. This does not include those who will develop addiction in later years.

What is an addiction? According to the DSM-V, the word addiction is no longer clinically used. Rather, it has been replaced with Substance Use Disorder or Substance-Induced Disorder. Each individual substance (like alcohol) is further divided into use, intoxication or withdrawal with specific criterion for each.
Some common characteristics of a substance use disorder (addiction) include:
·         Having to take the substance (like drugs) in greater amounts to achieve the same desired effect (high).
·         Attempts to reduce the intake are unsuccessful for long periods of time.
·         A great deal of time, energy, money, thought, and/or effort is spent trying to obtain the substance.
·         There is a craving for the substance when not currently intoxicated.
·         Use of substance is causing impairment in relationships, work, school or community.
·         Leisure activities are given up to use substance.
·         Substance is used regardless of risks associated with it.
·         Substance is taken in spite of the consequences imposed by health, family, work or friends.
·         The tolerance for the substance has increased while the effects of the substance have decreased.

What are examples of addiction? The types of addiction can be divided into two main categories:
1.       A substance from outside the body that is put into the body which creates a physical and/or psychological dependence.
a.      Some examples include: food, prescription drugs, alcohol, inhalants, hallucinogens, caffeine, cannabis/THC, tobacco, opioids, sedatives, stimulants, chocolate, diuretics, muscle relaxants, MSG, solvents, and steroids.
2.      A behavior performed to release a chemical produced naturally by the body thereby creating a physical and/or psychological dependence.
a.      Some examples include: shopping, cutting, money, exercising, religion, working, gambling, playing video games, internet, sex, stealing, violence/criminal activities, perfectionism, starting fires, seeking approval/attention/affection, vomiting, drama/chaos, codependency, collecting/hording, bleach, daydreaming, fetishes, computers/television, lust, love, masturbation, cleaning, relationships, pleasure, high risk activities, phone/texting, power, therapy, and voyeurism.

What can be done? Confronting an addict can be a very tricky thing. Think of addiction as a sliding scale from 1 to 10 with one being slightly addicted to ten being constantly intoxicated. For a person with an addiction on a level five or higher, seek professional help in confronting the addict. For those below a five, lovingly confront them and express concern for their behavior.

Remember, an addict will lie about their addiction. The best way to gauge the intensity or severity of an addiction is to “follow the money.” Nearly all addictions require some sort of financial obligation so tracing where the money is spent and how much is spent is a good indication of how acute the has become. Next to that, follow the time. Large amounts of unaccountable time can indicate an addiction as well. 

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