Teen Challenge Canada – What are the signs of addiction?

By Danae Ingram

According to the Teen Challenge Canada 2021 Impact Report, toxic street drugs, including fentanyl, killed 19 Canadians per day in 2020. The fear of losing someone to addiction is in the hearts and minds of many Canadians.

Determining whether someone you love has an issue with addiction and needs help, can be a difficult one. Often, loved ones are able to notice the signs of an addiction even before the user does. Confronting your loved one about their addiction, doesn’t mean you stop loving them. Instead, we need to talk to them with love, compassion, and understanding.

Addiction is clinically referred to as a “substance use disorder”, and is a complex need of the brain and body that involves the compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences. Addiction, caused by substance abuse, disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory.

The signs of addiction are not always easy to recognize.

Some people may not even be aware that they are struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism. The signs of addiction vary from person to person.

Some people may show physical symptoms such as weight loss, insomnia, or skin picking. Others may show emotional symptoms such as mood swings or depression.

The most common sign of addiction is the inability to stop using drugs even when the individual knows it is bad for them and they want to quit but can't on their own. The following are some of the signs of addiction:

  • Cravings.
  • Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down on drug use.
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, and recovering from drugs.
  • Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities.
  • Continuing to use drugs despite knowing it causes problems in relationships with family members or friends.

How to talk to your loved one about Teen Challenge Canada

“It’s not easy to talk to a loved one about getting help with their addiction. It can be a difficult conversation and it’s important that you are prepared for it,” says Matthew Barbour, Director of Centre Operation for Teen Challenge Canada.

“The first thing that you should do before talking to your loved one is to make sure that you are calm and collected. You should also think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Don’t bring up the issue without first considering the best time of day for this conversation, as well as where the two of you will be when having this discussion.” If you can, find a time when your loved one is not under the influence of their addiction.

Some of the benefits you can offer to them about Teen Challenge Canada include its year long, three-phase core program and two-phase after-care program that spans at least a 12-month period, giving enough time for clients to heal physically, spiritually, and mentally.

As outlined by Teen Challenge Canada’s 2021 Impact Report, “Sobriety is a series of daily choices on the lifelong road to recovery. Although our program sets men and women up for success after they leave, those we have helped admit that it is hard work to live a life of sobriety. Strong community ties, rewarding work, faith, and mentorship all help individuals cope with life’s inevitable challenges without turning to drugs and alcohol during difficult times.”

“You may not be able to get through to your loved one on the first try – and you should be ready for any kind of emotional reaction to your concern,” says Matthew, “but the best thing you can do is continue to give them your love and try again. Cutting out your family member until they ‘get help’ is not the right solution for either of you.”

How can you help support Teen Challenge Canada?

Teen Challenge Canada relies fully on donations from the community to keep its programs running. One of Teen Challenge Canada’s on-going fundraising campaigns is their Vehicle Donation Program. By donating a car, truck, van, or another vehicle, the money raised goes directly to support Teen Challenge Canada’s nine centres across Canada.

Do you have a vehicle you don’t want or need? Consider donating it to Teen Challenge Canada to support those recovering from addiction in your community. It doesn’t matter if it works, Teen Challenge will come and get it. All vehicle donations receive a fair market tax receipt, with a guaranteed minimum of $600.

If your old vehicle is ready to go to help change a life, go to www.donateyourcar.ca or call 1 (800) 856-8902.

To learn more about the ministry of Teen Challenge Canada, go to www.teenchallenge.ca.

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