Health matters Monitoring key in drug fight

By Sharon Chimenya


PARENTS should ensure effective communication with their adolescent children
because some discover at a later stage that their children are using drugs.
It has become a common sight for young people to huddle in dark corners with some
going to the extent of luring others into the life of drug abuse in the belief that it
eases problems and challenges.
This week, Dr Emmanuel Maziti, a clinical psychologist, helps us look at some of the
physical, behavioural and psychological signs that parents should look out for in
order to find out if their children are using illicit substances.
Physical signs
 Change in appetite.
This is when an adolescent child either starts to overeat or they start to eat
too little depending on the drug that they are taking. If it is crystal meth they
don’t eat at all, but for drugs like mbanje they start to overeat. So the changes
in appetite must be looked into.
 Changes in sleeping patterns.
Crystal meth and other stimulant drugs will cause a person to have problems
in sleeping. With crystal meth one might go for 24 hours without sleep,
depending with the dosage. However, other drugs that are known as
depressants will make a person oversleep and even during the day they
would be sleeping.
 Sudden weight loss/ gain.
It depends on the type of drugs. If it is crystal meth, a person doesn’t eat or
sleep because the drug is a stimulant they would feel they have the energy
and so they start to lose weight. However, other drugs make a person gain
weight and so it depends on what you are taking.
 Deterioration of physical appearance and grooming.
A person will start not to bath, brush teeth or even change clothes and they
will start developing a funny smell. For those who smoke, kana vakanaiwa
gotsi rinotanga kunhuwa.
 Blood shot eyes.

Behavioural signs
 Dropping attendance and performance.

The person will start to abscond school and the performance grades either at
school or work will start to drop.
 Unexplained need for money.
They start to have financial problems that include borrowing and stealing
because drugs require money and it is expensive to live a drug life. With the
crystal meth issue, a lot of young people are stealing television sets or pots.
They go to an extent of selling whatever they come across so as to get money
for drugs.
 Engage in suspicious and service business.
They start to be secretive and would not allow anyone to touch their clothes or
to enter their rooms.
 Sudden change in friends and hobbies.
They would frequently get into trouble like accidents, fights and trouble with
the police.
They can go into what is known as a psychotic state, which is known by many as
Psychological Signs
 Hallucinations.
A person would start to hear voices, seeing things, or to feel that ants are
moving in his body.
 Delusions.
It’s a strong belief held by an individual despite overwhelming evidence that
that belief does not exist. They start assuming positions that they don’t have
or to tell people that they have had a braai with God.
 Unexplained change in attitudes and personality.
A person who was once reserved, will end up being talkative or a person who
was outspoken will end up being reserved, sudden mood swings, anger or
outbursts. They start lacking motivation and would spend the whole day
seated. Most of them appear fearful or paranoid. Being paranoid is being
suspicious of anything and everything that if it is married man he will end up
suspecting that his wife is cheating without any evidence. If you give him food
he would start suspecting that you would have put poison in the food.
 Violent and aggressive behaviours.
These are some of the signs that parents should look out for when they are
suspecting that their children are into drugs.

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