Use of a drug for a reason other than which it was intended or in a manner or in quantities other than directed. Drug dependence is a compulsion to take a drug to produce a desired effect or prevent unpleasant effects when the drug is withheld. Risk factors for drug abuse include: low self esteem, inability to deal with stress and emotional instability. Juveniles use drugs due to peer pressure. Signs of drug use in children include: a change in friends or group, long absences from home, poor performance in school, seclusion, stealing, lying, criminal behaviour, deteriorating family relationships, signs of drug intoxication and changes in behaviour. Commonly abused drugs include narcotic analgesic agents, benzodiazepines, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, marijuana, LSD and phencyclidine. Many labs now offer quick and inexpensive urine drug screening. Psychological counseling and parental support will be necessary in children with this problem.

(27 Sep 1997)

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