Unfortunately, in this day and age, even very young children and certainly teens are getting hooked on lots of things that are … well … less than healthy. We all know that. Some things kids are getting addicted to are drugs, like marijuana or weed, alcohol, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine, and some are even becoming addicted to heroin. (They may play sports and get a prescription for pain from their medical doctor. This is how it often starts.) Certainly, many kids are smoking cigarettes these days, in addition to marijuana, which is legal in many states for medicinal purposes and fast becoming legal for recreational use. There are other ways to be addicted, such as to video games, the internet, pornographic violence and sex, to name a few. There is also a lot of chatter about being addicted to one’s cell phone, and while you can make a good case for that, we all know you can access the internet freely on your cell. So, it is a gateway of sorts to good things, but also to the negative.
What is It?
One dictionary definition is “the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.” KidsHealth.org says “addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who’s addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.” A physiological addiction points to the fact that a person’s body becomes dependent on the substance, so there is a large urging across all levels (physical, emotional, cognitive, even spiritual) to feed this perceived need for the substance being used. (Note that substance use or abuse does not necessarily rise to this level. It can take a while to get to this physiologically addictive state.) Tolerance occurs when a person’s body becomes so used to ingesting the substance that one needs increasing amounts to achieve that euphoria or high feeling that is craved. Psychological addiction can occur and is defined by KidsHealth.org this way: “when the cravings for a drug are psychological or emotional. People who are psychologically addicted feel overcome by the desire to have a drug. They may lie or steal to get it.” So, one sees how the physiological and emotional processes become intertwined. (It is possible to have an emotional addiction without a direct physiological component, too, although the mind and the body are inextricably intertwined. Think about sex, shopping, falling in love, etc.)
What it Looks Like
Addiction can be overt or covert. In other words, you might be able to see a kid using a substance or spend an abundance of time on an activity like playing video games, and the child does this to distraction. He or she spends so much time doing this activity or getting high, that schoolwork suffers and so does being part of the family at home. Chores may not be completed. There are attitudes (and we have to be careful to know when attitudes are just a normal part of growing up or when they mean your child has an addiction), irritability, and more. Some signs of addiction may be
Medication and How that Affects the Disorder
Standard prescription drugs like methadone, suboxone, and vivitrol may be administered to your child for help with addictions. For some they seem to help them get and stay off illicit and harmful drugs. For others, they may not work as well. Some medications which may be used are:
Be extremely careful if you choose to give your child/teen these drugs as they can all have negative interactions with other drugs, illicit or prescription…buyer beware!
How Holistic Interventions Assist in Treating Addiction
While kids and teens want to fit in with certain groups of people at school, and they may try drugs for this reason, they may also like the way these drugs make them feel. They may think it makes them more grown up. Anyway, kids and teens are – as a group – a bit more inclined to try new things and take risks. This is why knowing holistic measures at both prevention and treatment of drug and other types of addiction is so important!
As always, changing a child’s or teen’s diet can be very challenging! It’s that way for us adults, as well. But consuming a healthy diet and taking a few well-placed supplements makes it a great deal easier for your child or teen to make healthier choices about what they do and who they socialize with! Avoiding foods that inflame us – fast foods, junk foods, foods with lots of chemicals and genetic modifying, grains and sugars – helps one think, feel, and behave more rationally. Amino acid therapy is being used quite successfully in lieu of prescription medications, and the results are nothing short of amazing. There are nearly no side effects, and amino acids are actually healing brain chemistry rather than manipulating neurotransmitters, as medications tend to do. Hence, today we see many private and even other conventional, publicly funded treatment entities using holistic methods or combining treatment approaches.
Most treating entities offer talk therapy – individually and within groups – as well as participation at 12-step meetings. More holistic approaches may also include groups on body image, family therapy, nutrition, emotional freedom technique (EFT, or, tapping), yoga, meditation, equine-assisted therapy (working with horses), fitness, music therapy, adventure therapy like rock climbing, horticulture (planting gardens), martial arts, culinary arts, art therapy, and more.
You – the parent or caretaker – can participate in your child’s or your teen’s recovery by starting slowly with dietary changes and participating in some of these activities with your child/teen. Also, find out whether your child or teen has food sensitivities, which foods your kids may be sensitive to – there are numerous, lower-cost ways to test for these. Also, take foods containing refined wheat (and other grains) way down or out of your diet, and try to reduce/eliminate all sugar. There are very palatable and healthy sugar substitutes (not aspartame, etc.) There are many recipes free of charge that help you make nearly every dish you and your child love using healthier ingredients, including pizza! Yes, there’s even a healthy version of pepperoni. Almond flour makes a fine substitute for wheat, by the way. Try to stop eating foods which are more than “minimally processed” – highly processed foods like vegetable oil do not create healthy kids. Watch out for chemical food additives and genetically modified ingredients.
As far as supplementation goes, some helpful choices may be fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids, the B vitamins, vitamin D, probiotics, magnesium, zinc, and iron. Although there are very few, if your child is on medication, you will want to check for possible contra-indications. For optimal results, please work with a competent health care provider!
Prevention – Healthy Living & Avoiding Substance Use or get my guide here.
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