7 Tips for Preventing Substance Abuse | It is estimated that 19.7 million Americans over the age of 12 years, battle substance abuse every year. This does not just destroy lives but can reap havoc on whole communities. But do you know how to stop the problem before it begins?
Habits are easy to form, yet hard to break. Read on as we discuss essential prevention strategies for substance abuse.
- Change Environments
Many people with substance problems are in environments that become filled with temptation. They could be in a place where drugs and alcohol are freely available.
In these situations, the best prevention strategy is to remove the person from this environment. It could mean moving house, district, town, or even their job.
Even if the person has controlled the substance abuse, they should change this factor. If an incident occurs, the temptation to lapse may be too much.
- Change Peer Groups
Individuals don’t just have to hang around drug houses to be with people who abuse substances. Perhaps they could have circles of friends who drink heavily to socialize. They may be in a high-pressure job in which people take drugs to cope.
This means a person inevitably forges a peer group who can normalize substance abuse for them. This is one of the hardest situations to be in. Anyone who has sat in a room sober while their drunk friends have fun will know how painful it can be.
If the peer circle is understanding, it could be worthwhile explaining the situation. However, if they don’t respond and you don’t have the willpower to say no, then the only option is to change your social circle.
- Diagnose and Treat Mental Illness
Luckily, mental illness education is now in the public domain much more than it was before. People are starting to have discussions on mental health and how to work with it. This means, it is easier than ever to get the help and support people may need.
Mental illness and substance abuse often come as a package. Post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression are very easy to numb using substances. However, they facilitate a downward spiral where more is required.
If someone feels their substance abuse is a result of their mental health, then they should seek immediate assistance. They should visit a health professional to discuss possible treatment programs, and the substance problem will be easier to deal with as a consequence.
- Work at Happiness
Substance problems start and begin when something in life stops working. This is generally when someone is unhappy about their life and does not have the mechanisms to deal with it. It could be something that has happened in the past, a current event, or the worry about where their life is going in the future.
If the person addresses these problems, then organizing the substance issues will be much easier. It will also reduce the possibility of a relapse.
For some, it may mean attending a drug and alcohol abuse class when they feel something slipping out of their control. For others, it may be counseling to deal with past events or trauma.
- Be Open With Children
Telling people not to do something very rarely works. However, open and honest dialogues are always much better at helping understand a person’s point of view. You may get a better view of why they are indulging in substance abuse, and thus how to prevent it.
If you have children, talk to them openly about substances. Try to educate them on why people may take drugs, and how alcohol can get out of control. Discuss situations they may encounter where it may be tempting to take part.
Children are not stupid, and they will know that people take substances to feel good. Be honest about why it happens, how it makes people feel better and the highs it can create.
However, follow it up with the problems it creates. Let them know what is at stake, and what can be lost. This may be personally or financially.
- Combat Isolation
Another cause of substance issues can from a sense of isolation. This could be from a lack of friends, detachment from family, or a lack of sense and identity within a community. These frameworks also offer support networks, so building them can also aid recovery if the root cause stems from another area.
A way to address this is for the person to reconnect with those they may have become estranged from. Part of this may involve reconciling and forgiving past events.
Becoming part of a wider community can also assist. Social activities or work that gives purpose and meaning will also aid in preventing substance issues.
- Know Triggers and Risk Factors
Triggers are the emotional events that spark substance abuse. They will be unique in each person. However, if they can be identified in advance and strategies are put in place, they can be prevented.
Avoiding triggers also comes down to knowing the risk factors. Some of these are mentioned above, but others may include a history of abuse in the family. These risk factors normalize the behavior, and if you have been brought up in this, or are currently in it, you may need help to break these connections.
In summary, you need to address the issues and avoid the causes, and these 7 prevention strategies will help do just that. Do not be afraid to get help. Try to build a sense of worth and belonging within yourself.
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