‘A lot of us know how to disguise things’: Substance abuse expert offers tips on how spot signs of addiction

October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month and with many struggling with addictions during the pandemic, life coach and author Adam Jablin, joined CTV Saskatoon Morning Live co-anchor Alex Brown to speak about the issue. You can watch the full conversation using the player above. 

How big of a problem are we seeing right now with substance abuse?

It’s huge, substance abuse is always large, but the pandemic has really put a spotlight on it. The numbers are terrible. So, thank you for having me on because I think the more information that we can get out there at this time, the better. 

And there’s a lot of stigma and misinformation out there, what are the signs people should be looking out for if they think a loved one or a friend is abusing any substances?

Yeah like the number one thing that I like to point out is, it’s a little bit of a vibe. Like you know when someone’s lying to you. Because it’s 2020, and a lot of us know how to disguise things, you know you could go to the gym every day, you can get a tan, you can try to make the outside look a certain way while behind the scenes, you’re dying.

However, after a certain amount of chemical abuse, you will see certain signs; there could be a roundness to the face or sunken in because they’re not eating. Weight gain, weight loss. Hair loss, (changes to) skin colour. 

There’s a lot of physical signs you can see but really the most important thing to be aware of is the person’s honesty, the person’s aura. You can feel when someone’s lying to you. 

Now what about parents. When should they be on the lookout for what would be out of the norm, you know for children and teens who might have a problem?

It’s a great question because teenagers are already slightly defiant. But it would be everything, let’s say, on steroids.

You know, if they really never want you to see the phone, if they’re running to their room, if you start noticing that they may have zippers in their backpacks that they don’t want you to see.

And also erratic behaviour – either really really happy, really really high, really really involved, and then really really just doesn’t want to talk. 

As a parent, the most important thing you can do is talk to your kids, honestly, and let them know how afraid you would be if anything happened to them. They’re not going to respond to lectures.

So, let them know, you know “If anything happened to you, God if you were to get hurt or die, my whole life would be shattered.”

You know, speak to your kids from your heart. They’re not going to respond to lectures.

How important is it to create that kind of safety zone between parent and child, where a child feels comfortable enough to come to a parent?

It’s huge. Look, you said, I’m a life coach. it’s true in a lot of my clients. They don’t know how to communicate with the kid, or the teenager doesn’t know how to communicate with the parents. And they need somebody to build a bridge, they need some form of communication. 

But life coaches aren’t necessary. I’m not necessary. Now I’m here for a service. But if you can do that on your own, if you can create a happy, harmonious loving family, that’s the way to do it, hundred percent. 

Let’s talk a little bit about relapses before we have to go here. I mean, the pandemic has truly brought out a mental health crisis, and a lot of people turning to those substances, including former or recovering addicts. Are we seeing an increase in relapse cases?

It’s so sad. It’s so sad. We are seeing an increase in relapse, and relapse means that the person who was once sober, was once in recovery, and simply put, it’s somebody that stopped doing what they’re supposed to do for their recovery. Period. End of story. 

You know they lost touch with what’s the most important thing, which is the recovery. Because when you’re an alcoholic and an addict like myself, everything that I have is built on my recovery: my family, my relationships with my children.

This right here is built on top. My kids don’t want to talk to me and you’re not going to have me on today, If I’m wasted on tequila and popping Xanax and, you know, sleeping on Ambien and taking Adderall and all that stuff.

So your recovery has to be the base, your anchor, and then you can build on top of that.

People have lost touch of that, especially losing jobs with the pandemic, being locked inside, having to wear masks, you know all this stuff. We’re all in this together, but it’s been hard.

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