Kids increasingly affected by drug addiction - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Kids increasingly affected by drug addiction

Counselor Michelle Olson Counselor Michelle Olson

Kids across the country are increasingly affected by drug addiction.  With prescription drug abuse among adults on the rise, kids are losing out on normal lives.

Adolescents themselves are part of the reason for the increase in prescription pill addiction. Oaklawn Adolescent Addiction Counselor Michelle Olson says she's seen a huge uptick in the number of kids she treats.  "How sick these kids are is increasingly worse, which is scary and sad," Olson says. 

The children using drugs are getting younger as well.  She's seen eleven year olds, who she says aren't even mentally developed enough to join their group program.  Olson says, "In our program, we allow 13-18 year olds, but sometimes we have to make exceptions and we let 12-year-olds in."

Olson says it's important that kids get treatments so they can go back to having normal childhoods and grow into functioning adults.  "The part of their lives that they've used drugs in, they're never going to get back."

Olson says parents should look carefully for signs of possible drug abuse and help their kids get the treatment they need.

Physical warning signs of drug abuse
  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination
Behavioral signs of drug abuse
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems. May borrow or steal to get it.
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities)
Psychological warning signs of drug abuse
  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity, agitation, or giddiness
  • Lack of motivation; appears lethargic or "spaced out"
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, with no reason
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