A Guide to Teachers: Spotting Drug Abuse

Substance abuse, or drug abuse is excessively and repeatedly using chemicals to change perception or achieve a different state of mind. Substance abuse has many causes, the most common ones include, peer pressure, academic stress, teenage depression or other untreated emotional or physical causes. Being a teacher, it is important to understand and help your students, even the ones abusing substances, and noticing the signs of drug abuse is the first step toward a positive change.

Teachers and students interact on a daily basis, this makes it easy for a teacher to notice subtle behavioral changes and signs of drug abuse in a student. With close observation one can easily spot the signs of substance abuse among your students and help them take appropriate action for finding help. Importantly, remember that many signs of drug abuse exist, and its a cardinal sin to presume without being sure.

All students are at a risk of coming under the kind of influence that encourages drug use. Pretty much any student might abuse drugs, no matter what the student’s background is. There are some symptoms though, that make it more likely for a student to try drugs. These include a family history of drug abuse, depression and other mental illnesses, a low self esteem and antisocial behavior.

A student who is abusing drugs, is likely express disinterest in any extracurricular activities that might happen in the school. Such students will lack the enthusiasm to partake in school work, hobbies, sports or even making new friends or maintaining old ones. Its quite likely for them to develop a rebellious and unfriendly attitude, be unhygienic, display improper grooming and isolate themselves from everyone else.

The physical signs of drug abuse are also quite noticeable. Some of the physical symptoms of drug abuse include, bloodshot red eyes, dark circles, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, sore throat and pale skin. While any unwell student can display these symptoms, a drug user will always have, all or some of these symptoms.

The most obvious of all signs of drug abuse among students is the change in academic performance. Here are some generally accepted indicators of a student abusing drugs.

1) Quality of homework and other schoolwork decreases significantly.

2) Daydreaming or sleeping during lessons and displaying an intense lack of interest.

3) Almost always late, takes long breaks and leaves for home early.

4) Is often absent from classes.

5) Appears confused and cannot concentrate.

6) Doesn’t care for anyone’s, including their own, safety.

7) Makes basic errors in judgement and has trouble performing easy tasks.

8) Avoids all other students.

9) Makes excuses and blames other for own mistakes.

10) Claims that things are perfect and nothing has changed.

11) Is suddenly losing or gaining weight.

When looking for the above signs do keep in mind that the above symptoms can be caused by issues that are not drug induced. Sometimes a depressed child, or one with a mental illness or problems at home can behave quite similarly to a child abusing drugs. It is important to do your research and not accuse a student blindly.

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Prescription Drug Abuse: Watch Out for These Drugs

A pervasive ill plaguing our society is the prescription drug abuse and people of any age group can become its victim. Of all the drugs, antidepressants are more likely to be abused, especially by youngsters. Stimulants and tranquilizers are also commonly abused. It’s better to have knowledge about certain medications that are likely to be abused. Drugs which are predisposed to be abused by somebody fall into three principal categories:

Opioid: These are essentially pain killers which induce a feeling of euphoria in the users.
Tranquilizers: These medicines act as a blanket on the brain, generating a calming effect as a depressant on the central nervous system.
Stimulants: By giving the proverbial kick, stimulants increase brain activity by enhancing alertness and energy level.
Some of the most commonly abused drugs are:

Xanax (alprazolam): This drug falls under the tranquilizer category which depresses the central nervous system of a person. Prescribed to treat panic disorder and serious anxiety, people often abuse Xanax owing to its sedative and relaxing effects. By far this is the most abused drug in the market.

Klonopin & Valium: These drugs also have similar effects like Xanax and are mostly abused for inducing ‘highs’ akin to alcohol. People under the influence of Klonopin & Valium become talkative, feel inebriated and relaxed, just like after a heavy boozing session. These drugs can prove to be lethal in case of an overdose.

Oxycodone: This drug falls under the category of opioid which alters the way the brain reacts to pain. Also known as OxyContin, it induces a euphoric and sedative effect on the user and is often compared with heroin. It is quite expensive and to procure it the addicts often resort to stealing and other petty crimes.

Codeine (Purple Drank): Codeine is primarily used with other medicines to reduce pain and incessant coughing and is used in strong cough syrups. But because of its highly sedative effect, Codeine has made its way to the list of highly abused drugs. When consumed in a high quantity, it can alter the level of consciousness.

Demerol & Darvocet: These drugs were pulled off the shelves in the U.S. in 2010 because of their side effects of contributing to heart ailments. Being painkillers, these medicines bring in immediate results. But over a period of time people become resistant to it and the tolerance level increases significantly. So, as the dosage increases it gives way to a rampant abuse.

Amphetamine: This drug falls under the category of stimulants. Because of its immediate effect on a person, it has earned the sobriquet of ‘speed’. An addict, under its influence, develops a false notion of euphoria, excitement and a sense of wellbeing. It also boosts confidence and motivation level.

Ritalin: Prescribed for the treatment of ADHD, it is used for the central nervous system and often becomes a habit in users leading to any subsequent abuse. Because of the over-the-counter availability and being a frequently prescribed drug, it has become a highly abused prescription drug.
Even if somebody in the family is taking these medicines for any

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