Drugs and Addiction

  • What is addiction?

    A person is addicted when they are obsessed with something or someone, and their life centres on the object of their addiction.
    Substance addiction is a condition of absolute dependence for the addict, whose actions are governed by their intense need for the substance. A person is physically dependent on a substance when their body adapts to the substance and produces withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not present.
    A user is psychological dependent on a substance when they need it to feel good, to soothe stress or pressure, or simply to feel normal and able to respond to the demands of everyday life. Psychological dependence is more significant than physical addiction, and requires a lot more time to treat. Not all substances give rise to both forms of dependence.

  • What are drugs?

    Any substance, whether it’s a liquid, a powder, a spray, a tablet or still in its vegetal state, which affects the Central Nervous System and alters perception, emotion, mood, behaviour and physical functioning of the person who uses it is categorized as a drug.
    Depending on their type, drugs can affect both the body and the mind of the user, and can lead to physical and/or mental addiction.

  • What substances are considered narcotic drugs?

    The term ‘drugs’ is not restricted to illegal substances such as hashish, heroin, cocaine or Ecstasy. It also includes substances which are legal to use. Thus, while alcohol and tobacco are both completely legal for adults to us, and an integral part of everyday life, their abuse can lead to serious addiction and health problems. The misuse of tranquillizers and anti-depressants can also result in addiction. While inhalable substance like aerosols, glues, petrol and butane gas may seem a long way from what we generally think of as ‘drugs’, they are still addictive.

  • What drives people to substance use and addiction?

    Drug use and abuse by an individual or a group is rarely the result of a single factor. Addiction doesn’t just appear overnight in a person’s life, and the factors that prepare the ground for its appearance often date back to their childhood. The foundations on which we will later construct out values, principles and opinions are laid during our early years. Childhood is a time of profound change, and the influences to which a child is exposed can determine their later development. An individual’s experience of these first years of life is determined by their family, school and broader social context. Research has shown that there are a number of complex and interrelated factors which can play a role in an individual using, abusing and becoming addicted to substances. These factors can be divided into three main categories, the relative importance of which varies from person to person:

    – The family, social and cultural environment in which they spend their childhood
    – Biological factors and individual character
    – The effect of the substance

    Factors which increase the likelihood of substance use
    – Tolerance of substance abuse
    – The availability of substances
    – Social exclusion
    – Alienation
    – The absence of social support structures
    – The consumerist way of life
    – Pressure and stress
    – A lack of job opportunities
    – Spending time with substance users
    – A chaotic family environment
    – Parental substance use and abuse
    – A lack of emotional bonds within the family
    – Violence, neglect, serious family rows
    – Ineffectual parental supervision
    – Unrealistic expectations
    – Emotional pain
    – Loneliness
    – Low self-esteem
    – The absence of limits
    – Uncertainty with regard to values, goals and priorities
    – A lack of life skills (decision-making, self-control, responsibility, resistance, assertiveness etc.)
    – A lack of communication
    – The inability to handle intense emotions and disappointments
    – The inability to curb impulsiveness
    – Boredom
    – The search for thrills and satisfaction
    – Using substances in pre-adolescence
    – Chronic poor performance at school
    – Antisocial behaviour at an early age

    Factors that make an individual less likely to use substances
    – Personal skills (self-confidence and self-esteem, self-control, being able to recognize, express and handle intense emotions, setting goals etc.)
    – Social skills (communication, cooperation, resistance, responsibility, the ability to solve problems and take decisions, critical thinking, social sensitivity etc.)
    – Security and stability
    – Emotional stability
    – Having adult friends as well as friends of the same age: positive role models
    – Secure family bonds
    – Individual and family support networks
    – The existence of goals and ideals that give life vision
    – Powerful bonds with socialization institutions like the family and school
    – The ability to join in and be accepted
    – A commitment to education
    – A good academic performance at school and participation in extra curricula activities
    – Opportunities to participate with other young people in local community activities
    – Financial and social stability
    – Reduced access to substances

  • Are there different stages in substance use, abuse and addiction?

    There are four core stages on the road to addiction. Progress from one stage to the next is neither certain nor pre-determined. The individual can stop the process at any one of the stages, especially if they have support. The stages are:

    Experimentation
    While use can begin either alone or with others, the substance is usually provided by others. Curiosity and peer pressure are important factors at this stage. There is no impact on work, school, health or finances yet. While trying a substance does not necessarily entail addiction, all addicts started out experimenting.

    Actively searching
    This stage involves spending time with substance users and actively searching for the substance with a view to inducing a change in mood. Use begins to make a minor impact on the user’s finances, work and health at this stage. This stage is associated with a change in the people the individual spends time with and a decline in their performance at school/work.

    Involvement
    There is a significant increase in consumption at this stage. The user becomes mentally and/or physically dependent on the substance. Their substance use begins to impact directly on their personal finances. The user will also display dietary problems and unsettled sleep. Users are now exposed to multiple risks, some of which can be life-threatening (unwanted pregnancy, traffic accidents). The user becomes unreliable and performs their obligations poorly to their family, employers or teachers. The individual becomes increasingly isolated as the relationships binding them to their environment suffer.

    Addiction
    Substance use is now the focal point of the user’s life. Their friends are now mainly other users, and there is a high chance that the user will become involved in illegal activities and get into trouble with the police. The individual now uses the substance alone and in large doses. The impact on their physical and mental health is obvious, as is the deterioration in their intellectual and social abilities.

    Most children grow up without ever being presented with this life choice. Unfortunately, some young people do end up making this choice and gradually acquiring the serious problems it entails.

  • What other behaviours are addictive?

    People can develop addictive behaviours unrelated to substances. Interpersonal relationships can be addictive, as can work, over-eating, gambling and computer use. Everyone experiences conditions of dependence during their early years, when this dependence serves their needs. However, it is important that people are given the opportunity as they grow older to cultivate and develop characteristics that allow them to live independently through functional relationships that feature mutual—though not complete–dependence.

Alcohol addiction

  • How can I help someone close to me who is addicted to alcohol?

    It has been shown that the participation of close family and friends in the treatment process helps participants to stay away from substances, wards off feelings of discomfort and depression in younger members, and reduces stressful situations. At KETHEA ALPHA, the programme for legal additions, the support procedures available to the families of addicts include:

    • Seminars on the negative effects of alcohol
    • Individual and group counselling
    • Family and couples therapy

    Providing psychological support to friends and family helps equip them with the skills they need to deal with addictive behaviours in the family environment, and to get the addict to seek help.

  • What does the therapy involve?

    The treatment for alcoholism is long and multifaceted, while physical detoxification is often a prerequisite for mental rehabilitation. The problem can only be solved by participation on an approved therapy programme.

    At KETHEA ALPHA, the non-residential alcohol addiction programme includes individual and group counselling as well as family and couples therapy focused on:

    • Reducing stress
    • Finding methods effective at limiting alcohol consumption or cutting it altogether
    • Providing training in crisis management and relapse prevention
    • Rebuilding family bonds

    The services are provided by a team consisting of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and family therapists.

  • What are the symptoms of alcohol addiction?

    Someone is addicted to alcohol when only the constant consumption of large quantities of alcohol can satisfy them. Alcohol addiction does have several specific symptoms, including:

    • Constantly expressing the desire to stop drinking or making failed attempts to reduce alcohol consumption.
    • Spending a lot of time finding alcohol to consume.
    • Withdrawal symptoms: a slight tremor of the hands, tongue and eyelids, excessive perspiration, nausea and vomiting, irritability, stress, headaches, insomnia, generalized seizures resembling epilepsy, and an over-stimulated central nervous system.
    • A decline in family, social and work-related activity.
    • Drinking in order to avoid or soothe withdrawal symptoms.

    Many of these symptoms can last for at least a month, or reappear for longer periods of time.

Gambling addiction

  • What are the symptoms of gambling addiction?

    As with most mental afflictions, the symptoms of gambling addiction appear when the addictive behaviour begins to impact on the individual’s everyday life and relationships. Given that compulsive gambling is not a physical condition, its symptoms can sometimes be harder to spot.
    However, compulsive gamblers can display behaviours including:

    • Gambling and thinking/talking about gambling for long periods of time
    • Irritable, highly-strung behaviour when trying to stop or reduce gambling
    • A tendency to borrow money as a temporary solution to financial problems
    • Repeated failed attempts at controlling, reducing or stopping gambling
    • Long or unexplained absences from the home and the workplace
    • Taking out multiple bank loans, overloaded credit cards, unpaid bills and inexplicable holes in the family budget
    • Excessive amounts of time spent studying sources of gambling information in the Media
    • Spending time alone to consider gambling tactics
    • Refusal to engage with suggestions from others relating to their gambling
    • Reduced productivity at work
    • Discomfort, anger and rising tension if something prevents them from gambling
    • Euphoria, a swollen sense of self worth and relief should they win.
  • How can I help a compulsive gambler?

    In most cases, a compulsive gambler’s friends and family become aware that there is a problem before the gambler does. When this happens, you should seek help from specialized services who can advise you on how best to deal with a compulsive gambler.

    A first step would be to stop helping the addict solve financial difficulties stemming from their gambling; you need to lay down firm rules and limits in relation to money. Discuss with them the impact their gambling is having on the family, their friends and their life. Be understanding and declare yourself willing to support them in their efforts to rehabilitate themselves.

    The participation of close friends and relatives is considered to be of crucial importance to the rehabilitation process. Thus, as well as individual and group addiction counselling, the therapy programme includes fully confidential family and couples therapy focused on relationships within the family. In any case, everyone close to the addict should know that treating compulsive gambling is a long and involved process.

  • What does the therapy of gambling involve?

    It takes considerable reserves of self-discipline and motivation for a compulsive gambler to successfully deal with their addiction. There are various ways of supporting people addicted to gambling, all of which require that the addict admits that they have a problem. The next step is to seek help from approved specialized services which provide therapy along with support for the members of the gambler’s close circle of family and friends.
    At KETHEA ALPHA, the gambling addiction programme produces tailor-made therapy programmes designed for the particular needs of the individual gambler. The programmes aim to prevent the addict becoming cut off from his environment as a result of his addiction.
    The psychological therapy provided includes:

    • Personal counselling / support
    • Recording, examining and understanding how the individual came to be addicted to gambling
    • Producing a strategy and methods to reduce their involvement with gambling
    • Producing motives for stopping
    • Providing training in how to deal with high-risk situations
    • Provide training in problem-solving and handling interpersonal relationships
    • Gamblers anonymous groups
    • Family and couples therapy

    The programme is administered by a team consisting of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and family therapists.

Internet addiction

  • What is cyberbullying?

    Internet harassment is a growing phenomenon in which children or teenagers harass each other in cyberspace or using mobile phones. Harassment includes:

    • Sending SMSs, emails or chat messages of a threatening or abusive nature.
    • Publishing unpleasant photographs or messages concerning others on websites.
    • Using another user’s name in order to spread untruths.

    Internet harassment leaves victims feeling profoundly lonely, insecure, unhappy and in a permanent state of stress, pressure and fear. If they remain in this state for too long, they may resort to extreme acts, including suicide.

    (source: www.safeinternet.gr)

  • What can parents do to protect their children from Internet addiction in the future?

    The parent must place limits on Internet use from early on, and discuss these limits with the child as he/she gets older. Thus, the parent should:

    • Impose rules on computer use which take into account the child’s age and interests
    • Introduce their children to the concepts of ‘addiction’ and ‘harassment at a young age
    • Spend time online with their children
    • Put the computer in the living room or other shared part of the home where the child cannot be alone and the parents can monitor use
    • Use tools to filter out harmful sites
    • Teach their children how to protect their privacy on their Internet, as they do in the real world

    Seek help immediately if they note excessive Internet use and/or behaviours associated with addiction

    (source: www.youth-health.gr)

  • How is Internet addiction treated?

    The first and most important step in dealing with addictive Internet behaviour is to seek expert support from specialists. The theatment programmes seek to restrict the time spent in front of the computer screen and playing video games, and to enable young people to deal effectively with teenage problems. Support provided in parallel to the family environment aims to equip the family with the skills required to deter such behaviours. The programme seeks to bolster those elements which can help the addict deal with their problem with their family’s support.
    Education is encouraged, as are spending time with friends and other hobbies which do not involve computer use. The teenager’s ability to communicate with their significant others is also enhanced, along with their self-effectiveness, while possible psychological problems which can be associated with addiction or overuse are also looked into. The programmes also work with parents to, among other things, help bolster their role and their parenting skills (consistent disciplinary tactics, parental control, actively listening to their children, negotiating skills), while efforts are also made to re-establish limits and the family’s internal hierarchy, and to build a trusting relationship between parents and children.

  • What behaviours might warn of possible Internet addiction?

    The early symptoms of problematic Internet use include someone spending too much time online, becoming obsessive about online activities, neglecting their obligations and other interests, performing markedly less well at school or work, spending a lot of time alone or reducing the time dedicated to doing things with friends, acting aggressively, behaving differently, being indifferent to things which once brought satisfaction, and suffering from headaches, itchy eyes etc.

    When problematic Internet usage evolves into full-blown addiction, teenagers tend to behave violently towards their parents and friends, to remain without sleep, water or food for long periods of time, to spend entire days away from home (e.g. in Internet cafes), to quit school, to isolate themselves and become melancholic, to neglect themselves and their appearance, to be unable to limit their Internet use, despite being aware of the problems it is causing them, or to fail to realize what is happening to them and thus be in a position to seek or accept help.

    (source: www.youth-health.gr)

     

  • Is there such a thing as Internet or video game addiction?

    The increasing use of new technologies as a medium of communication makes us all potential Internet and video game addicts. That said, adolescents are particularly vulnerable to this sort of addiction, since they use computers, new technologies and the Internet both for learning/education and recreation. As a result, teenagers tend to spend an ever increasing amount of time in front of a computer screen visiting chat rooms, playing online games, visiting social networking sites, searching for information, buying products or receiving services. Communication problems within the family, or difficulties integrating into the school environment ,are other factors associated with excessive computer use.

For parents

  • How can you tell if your child is using substances?

    There are no set symptoms associated with substance use, especially in its early stages. However, given that a parent has a strong emotional relationship with their child, they will be in a position to recognize certain signs which, though not directly related to substance use and abuse, can be indicative of a troubled adolescence. Examples include:

    • Passivity and a lack of independence
    • Low self-esteem
    • An unwillingness to make up after disagreements
    • A lack of self-control
    • An inability to get over problems and disappointments
    • Difficulties forging and maintaining friendships

    It can sometimes be hard to distinguish normal adolescent behaviour from the sort of behaviour that can stem from substance abuse, but extreme and lasting changes could point to the latter.

    You should ask yourself the following:

    • Does your child seem distant, melancholy, tired or less interested in how they look?
    • Has your child become more hostile, aggressive or uncooperative?
    • Does their mood swing suddenly from happy and lively to sullen, silent and ill-humoured?
    • Has your child’s relations with the rest of the family deteriorated?
    • Have they grown apart from or dropped their old friends?
    • Has your child’s performance at school worsened? Are they absent more often?
    • Has your child lost interest in their favourite activities?
    • Have your child’s eating and sleeping habits changed (sleepiness or sleeplessness, loss of appetite)?
    • Have they started lying a lot or keeping secrets?
    • Have sums of money or objects started to mysteriously disappear from the home?
    • Are there any unusual smells, stains or marks on their body or clothes or in their bedroom?
    • Have you found powders, pills, pieces of tin foil, plastic straws, cigarette papers, needles or syringes in their room?

    If you have answered yes to most of the above questions, it may indicate that your child is using substances. However, children facing problems other than substance abuse can manifest certain of these signs, too. If in doubt, seek help.

  • How can the family help with prevention?

    Prevention starts with parents. It depends on how well parents take care of themselves, their needs and relationships, their personal development. Parents are a model and inspiration to their children. The satisfaction parents get from their lives, their relationships and their work is important in determining whether they have the strength required to raise independent and self-confident children with a strong sense of their own worth. Being a parent is anything but easy. Some say it’s an art, and it is certainly a role that requires you to be in touch with your emotions and to display knowledge, energy, humour, patience, understanding and a positive disposition. The parent has to create a family climate in which the child can learn to love, respect, cooperate, judge, lose, choose, search and communicate. At the same time, the parent has to balance the child’s need for protection with the need to provide them with opportunities to grow up.

    Families capable of providing a protective environment in which a child can develop in a healthy manner display a number of specific characteristics:
    – A warm and positive relationship between parents and children provides protection and a sense of security, even when there are problems within a family. Such a relationship gives children a firm sense of identity, and makes them feel part of a clearly-defined ‘us’.
    – Open and direct communication within the family—and especially between parents and children—allows problems to be solved, personal worries to be shared, pressure and stress to be defused and psychological support to be provided.
    – Parents having realistic expectations of their children and a positive view of their abilities strengthens their children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. It also allows children to set realistic goals for themselves and their lives.
    – Undertaking minor responsibilities and having their limits clearly delineated gradually instils children with the belief that they can stand on their own two feet and be useful. Having stable, sensible rules is also important, as it teaches children to respect the society in which they live–rules provide clear limits for children and allow them to learn to live with others. In reality, though they may kick against regulation, children actually want rules for the sense of security and relief they bring.
    – Parents maintaining close contact with their children’s schools and taking an active role and interest in improving their performance there is also very important. Teachers do not only impart knowledge to their students, they also train them in social and personal skills which are just as important for their development as individuals.

    Parents pass messages onto their children. Their ability to deal with life positively, to stay away from substance use and to handle difficult situations effectively makes them extremely powerful positive role models.

  • How should parents deal with Media messages?

    Parents are the first line of mediation between their children and the messages they receive from the Media, and their social environment in general, as they grow up. Having accepted that the Media constitutes a source of information or influence, parents need to evaluate its messages and information with their children. By asking the right questions, parents can help their children express what they have heard, what they believe, what they think and feel, and how they evaluate the messages they have received. By having this sort of discussion with their children, parents can help change some of their children’s ideas and clarify the values the family holds.

  • Preventing substance use: how and when should prevention start?

    Prevention includes every attempt made to reduce or delay the desire to use substances. Prevention should operate on multiple levels and begin at an early age. However, methods like providing information on the consequences of substance use, attempting to frighten people into not trying substances by presenting substance use in the blackest possible terms, and explicitly forbidding such use have proven largely ineffective.
    Prevention should really be about how we live our daily lives. It must transcend the passive provision of information, and aim at developing and cultivating an addiction-free approach to life which respects the individual and their needs.

  • Should I talk to my child about drugs, and if so, how?

    The most suitable age for discussing drugs is when the child raises the issue themselves by asking questions. Generally speaking, before broaching the subject, parents should ask themselves whether:

    – The child has expressed a need for the relevant information?
    – The child understands the matters the parents want to discuss?
    – The child feels free to express concerns or questions of this sort with their parents?
    – There is a communicative climate within the family?

    If the child or adolescent asks to talk about drugs with a parent, it means something has stimulated this desire to investigate the subject further.
    While it’s a good idea for the parents to learn everything they can about drugs before discussing the subject with their child, they certainly don’t not need to know everything there is to be known about drugs. Above all else, however, they should remember that it’s what they do that’s important, not what they say–there shouldn’t be an obvious discrepancy between their words and actions!  They should also remember that parental support can help a child resist peer pressure to try drugs.
    On a psychological note, parents who strive to be perfect may find that this actually impedes the formation of a positive relationship with their children. Indeed, children growing up with a role model of this sort are extremely unlikely to learn how to handle their own insecurities and weaknesses. This means that parents shouldn’t be afraid of admitting that they don’t know everything about everything: doing so is honest, makes parents more accessible and helps parent-children bonding.

  • Are there tests which can trace substances? How long is hashish and heroin traceable after use?

    There are laboratory tests which can trace substances in a person’s urine. You should contact a microbiological laboratory or visit a hospital which runs tests of this sort. How long substance use remains traceable depends on the substance used. Cannabis variables are traceable for 2-3 days following occasional use and for up to 4 weeks after regular use. Heroine can be traced for up to 36 hours after the most recent dose.

  • How can I tell if my child is using substances?

    There are no set symptoms associated with substance use, especially in its early stages. However, given that a parent has a strong emotional relationship with their child, they will be in a position to recognize certain signs which, though not directly related to substance use and abuse, can be indicative of a troubled adolescence. Examples include:

    – Passivity and a lack of independence
    – Low self-esteem
    – An unwillingness to make up after disagreements
    – A lack of self-control
    – An inability to get over problems and disappointments
    – Difficulties forging and maintaining friendships
    It can sometimes be hard to distinguish normal adolescent behaviour from the sort of behaviour that can stem from substance abuse, but extreme and lasting changes could point to the latter.

    You should ask yourself the following:

    – Does your child seem distant, melancholy, tired or less interested in how they look?
    – Has your child become more hostile, aggressive or uncooperative?
    – Does their mood swing suddenly from happy and lively to sullen, silent and ill-humoured?
    – Has your child’s relations with the rest of the family deteriorated?
    – Have they grown apart from or dropped their old friends?
    – Has your child’s performance at school worsened? Are they absent more often?
    – Has your child lost interest in their favourite activities?
    – Have your child’s eating and sleeping habits changed (sleepiness or sleeplessness, loss of appetite)?
    – Have they started lying a lot or keeping secrets?
    – Have sums of money or objects started to mysteriously disappear from the home?
    – Are there any unusual smells, stains or marks on their body or clothes or in their bedroom?
    – Have you found powders, pills, pieces of tin foil, plastic straws, cigarette papers, needles or syringes in their room?
    If you have answered yes to most of the above questions, it may indicate that your child is using substances. However, children facing problems other than substance abuse can manifest certain of these signs, too. If in doubt, seek help.

  • What sort of first aid should be administered to a young person who is using substances?

    Drugs affect everyone differently. Their effect depends on the quantity taken, the emotional state of the user, and the environment in which they are taken. Parents need to know what to do if they find their child sick after using drugs or drinking an excessive amount of alcohol.

    Amphetamines, cannabis, Ecstasy, LSD and magic mushrooms can sometimes trigger stress or panic attacks. If this happens:

    • Calm the child down. Try to stop them panicking. Talk to them in a normal tone of voice; try to conceal your own fear or worry from them.
    • Explain that the feeling will pass.
    • Encourage them to sit in a quiet, softly-lit room.
    • If their breathing quickens, calm them down and ask them to take slow, deep breaths.

    Heroin, tranquillizers and aerosols or glue abuse can make the user feel extremely sleepy. If this happens:

    • Calm them down. Talk to them in a quiet, calm voice and try to stop them panicking.
    • Don’t frighten them.
    • Never give them coffee to wake them up.
    • If the symptoms persist, get them to lie in the recovery position (embryo-like on their side). Make sure they don’t swallow their tongue, which can impede their breathing.
    • Don’t hesitate to call for an ambulance, if they don’t wake up quickly.

    The abuse of alcohol, inhaled substances (glues, aerosols, petrol), heroin, tranquillizers or the constant trance-like dancing of an Ecstasy user who neither breaths properly nor drinks adequate fluids, can lead to a loss of consciousness. An overdose of most drugs can also lead to a loss of consciousness. If this happens:

    • Call the emergency services immediately (dial 166 in Greece), give your address and ask for an ambulance.
    • Don’t ever hesitate to contact emergency services.
    • Check their breathing. Be ready to perform artificial resuscitation (the kiss of life).
    • Keep your child warm, but not too warm. However, if they have taken Ecstasy and seem to be overheating (hyperthermia), keep them cool, make sure they have plenty of fresh air and take off any excess clothing (hats, gloves, scarves etc.).
    • If you know what substance they have taken, tell the ambulance crew when they arrive.
    • If you find drugs but are not sure what they are, give them to the ambulance crew.
    • If you find your child unconscious or somnolent, it is important to know what to do: it might save their life.

Your questions

  • My brother is an addict. He often becomes violent and aggressive. What can we do? How can we have him locked up against his will?

    We understand the desperation you feel at your brother’s situation—it is the users’ families who suffer most from the consequences of their addiction, and having an addict in the family is physically and mentally exhausting. However, there is another side to the coin: the family is also best placed to influence the user, and with the right education and support, they can motivate an addict to change the way they live. But this requires commitment and determination, and the whole family will have to work patiently, steadily and determinedly towards this goal, sometimes for many years. You can’t lock your brother up in a treatment centre against his will, because participation in programmes is voluntary at every stage. It should be said, though, that while his confinement would undoubtedly bring relief, albeit temporarily, it could never actually solve the problem. Of course, you have every right to protect yourself and your mental and physical well-being from your brother’s violent reactions. Start by thinking up ways of keeping him at a distance, as far away as necessary to give the family some respite. You could seek the help of the authorities, move away, even if it’s only temporarily, or seek help from family and friends who could help you when the situation gets critical. Don’t hesitate to contact us, if you feel in need of any further information.

  • I discovered that my partner is using cocaine

    He says his drug use is under control, and won’t accept that he has a problem. I don’t know what to do or how to help him… I follow him around all the time, playing the policeman in our own home. I’d like your expert opinion.

    It’s usual in cases like these for the user to think they don’t have a problem, to react aggressively to suggestions that they do, and to refuse to discuss the matter. When the people in a user’s social environment get angry with them, or try to help them in any way, as you have done, they usually make little progress.
    You should know that a fundamental precondition for helping something off drugs of any sort is for them to want to quit. Since nothing can be achieved until the user really wants to quit, your first task should be to minimize the side-effects of their addiction, whether these are financial and affect the whole family, or psychological. This means that your primary focus should be on your partner, and that you should put yourself and your children, if you have any, in second place for a time.
    Talk openly with him, don’t hesitate to tell him how you feel, and impress on him—and, even more so, on yourself—that you’ll be there to support him if he decides to enter treatment.
    Right now, it’s important that you seek help from a specialized Family Support and Counselling Centre; the staff there will help you implement changes aimed at making the family function better, and at getting your partner seek help.

  • My son wants to quit heroin alone and with our help

    How long will the withdrawal symptoms last? Is there any medication he should take?

    The first step is for your son to stop taking the substance. This means experiencing withdrawal symptoms over a week or so, which will more intense and painful on days two and three. Some users choose not to take any medication during the withdrawal period, when they either gradually reduce the frequency with which they take the drug and the dosage, or stop altogether from day one. Others feel that the pain will be too much for them to bear and seek medical help. However, ridding oneself of an addiction is not just a matter of physical detoxification; if the user does not embark on an exploration of the causes of his addiction and the reasons he turned to heroin in the first place, he will never be free of it. This is the most important element on the path to rehabilitation, and it can only be achieved by joining an organized therapy programme; under no circumstances can the family hope to undertake this role alone. Talk to him and encourage him to seek help at one of your local therapy units.

  • A friend of mine is addicted to drugs. He asks me for money every time we meet. What should I do?

    The only way you can help a friend to stop taking drugs is to encourage them to visit a Therapy Centre. Depending on the nature and depth of your friendship, you can then support them in their efforts by providing them with emotional support and seeing that they stick to their pledges.
    Remember that you are definitely not helping an addict by giving them money, which only makes it easier for them to continue taking drugs. The next time you meet your friend, you could make it clear to him that you have no intention of helping them stay addicted! If you need more information, you can call the KETHEA ITHAKI Helpline (1145, local rates apply).

  • My son is 25 and addicted to heroin. How can I persuade him to come to you? I need help

    Drug addicts only take the decision to join a rehabilitation programme, and hence to change the way they live, when they feel that the vicious circle of substance abuse has come to a close, in one way or another. Unfortunately, the cycle is personal, and no one can predict when it will close for an individual user. Pressure from family and friends, fear of being given up on and left alone, fear of failing health, fear of problems with the law are just some of the factors that can lead a user to decide to change. It would certainly be useful if you were to contact your local KETHEA Family Support Unit to discuss things you can do and the stance and behaviour which the family will have to adopt, given your son’s refusal to face up to the situation.

     

  • A friend of mine is addicted to drugs. He asks me for money every time we meet. What should I do?

    The only way you can help a friend to stop taking drugs is to encourage them to visit a Therapy Centre. Depending on the nature and depth of your friendship, you can then support them in their efforts by providing them with emotional support and seeing that they stick to their pledges.
    Remember that you are definitely not helping an addict by giving them money, which only makes it easier for them to continue taking drugs. The next time you meet your friend, you could make it clear to him that you have no intention of helping them stay addicted! If you need more information, you can call the KETHEA ITHAKI Helpline (1145, local rates apply).

  • Are there tests which can trace substances? How long is hashish and heroin traceable after use?

    There are laboratory tests which can trace substances in a person’s urine. You should contact a microbiological laboratory or visit a hospital which runs tests of this sort. How long substance use remains traceable depends on the substance used. Cannabis variables are traceable for 2-3 days following occasional use and for up to 4 weeks after regular use. Heroine can be traced for up to 36 hours after the most recent dose.