How to spot the signs of addiction in students

This summer, thousands of university and college students up and down the country will be returning home following the end of another academic year – an exciting prospect for many parents whose children have ‘flown the nest’.

It’s undoubtable that moving away from home opens a number of doors to young people, introducing them to new friends, hobbies and – most notably – unprecedented levels of freedom. But, although the infamous uni lifestyle is relatively harmless, it’s pretty safe to assume that most higher education students will, at some point, be introduced to illegal drugs or substances of some form. Indeed, polls conducted by UK-wide University publication The Tab shows that the majority of students report trying drugs.


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With this in mind, it’s important to keep a subtle eye out for any signs of addiction among your children – especially ones who are returning home following their first year away. Here, addiction expert Dr Indra Cidambi gives her tips on spotting the early signs of substance abuse.

“Adolescents slip into addiction to deal with stress or to be “accepted” by a “cool group. So, it is important to talk to your kids to understand what is going on in their lives…helping them sort out feelings and fostering an environment where they turn to you first for help in solving a problem.”

1. Behavioural and mood issues

Substance abuse in young adults can often result in changes in social interactions, mood changes, problems with work and an increase in risky behavior or mood swings. Dr Cidambi says:

“The changes in social interactions are very noticeable. If your extroverted child suddenly now keeps more to himself/herself and avoids eye contact, it should be a concern. If he or she is now sullen, irritable or depressed, then it could be a warning sign.”

Also, any drastic deterioration in your child’s academic performance should be explored.

2. Unkempt appearance

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