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Top 10 Ways to Prevent Drug Use
An estimated 23.5 million people over the age of 12 in America have a substance abuse problem or are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Although many people only associate illegal drugs such as marijuana or heroin with drug abuse or addiction, prescription medication abuse, especially opioid pain medication, is a significant and growing problem. Drug dependence or addiction can happen to anyone who uses any type of substance to alter his or her mood. Luckily, there are simple actions to prevent drug abuse, or relapse for those already in recovery. People with a family history of addiction, as well as those with a mental health disorder should take precautions to prevent abuse. By following the following ten tips, a person can reduce his or her chance of developing a drug problem.
Abstinence is the best way to prevent drug abuse or addiction. Some drugs are highly addictive, with many people becoming addicted after using them just once. For some people, it is really easy to never touch drugs. However, for others, it can be incredibly difficult, especially for people experiencing peer pressure or who are in chronic physical or emotional pain. In these cases, completely abstaining from drug use can take a lot of skill and willpower, much of which can be gained by following some of the other tips on this page.
2. Take Time for Yourself
Modern life is filled with stress, which increases a person’s risk of abusing drugs or developing an addiction. With the ease of receiving work email and phone calls on a mobile device, many people find it hard to leave work at the office, which increases the amount of stress they feel. This is added to the pressures of family obligations, social activities, and commuting to work, causing many people to be in a chronic state of stress with no time to take care of themselves and relax. Chronic stress causes many physical and mental health problems, which can lead to a person turning to drugs and alcohol for relief. People can prevent some of these triggers by just taking time to relax and take care of themselves. This could include setting aside a few hours a week to journal, read, take a bath, or get a massage, or turn off the phone for one day a week.
3. Live a Healthy, Well-balanced Life
Along with finding healthy ways to reduce stress, living a healthy, well-balanced life is another way to decrease the risk of drug abuse. A healthy lifestyle includes healthy eating, regular exercise, an active social life, and not smoking. By incorporating these activities, a person tends to have a happier and healthier life overall, which minimizes some of the temptations and triggers of drug abuse. An added bonus is that it also reduces the chance of developing many preventable diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
4. Learn Coping Mechanisms
Many people abuse drugs and alcohol in order to numb negative feelings. To prevent abusing drugs for this reason, it is important to learn healthy coping mechanisms. Everyone feels sad, lonely, isolated, ashamed, embarrassed, unworthy, and other negative emotions at various points in his or her life. There is nothing wrong with feeling these emotions. The best way to deal with these emotions is to learn how to properly process them, which may include talking to someone, writing in a journal, exercising, meditating, and more. Through knowing the right way to cope with these thoughts and feelings, a person will not be tempted to numb them through drugs.
5. Spend Time with (the Right) Friends and Family
Socializing is an important aspect of a person’s overall health and wellbeing. However, the wrong relationships can trigger drug abuse. For example, being surrounded by others who abuse drugs will increase the risk of also abusing drugs. Conversely, being surrounded by those who do not use drugs will limit a person’s exposure and the peer pressure to be a user. Additionally, by choosing friends and family members who show love and support and provide a positive environment, a person will have less risk of encountering emotions that trigger drug abuse. However, being around people who constantly belittle a person and make him or her feel unworthy will facilitate negative feelings and emotions that could cause a person to turn to drugs and alcohol to feel better, which can lead to addiction and other problems
6. Learn to Handle Peer Pressure
Peer pressure can play a significant role in drug abuse, especially for teenagers and young adults. By learning the best way to handle peer pressure and say no to using drugs, a person will be better able to withstand the temptation to use drugs. Likewise, avoiding situations where certain drugs and alcohol will be around, such as raves, parties, or other events, can help a person avoid such peer pressure.
Knowledge is power, which is a true statement in regards to drug use. Knowing about the risks, health and legal consequences, and other information about drug use will provide many people with a stronger reason for avoiding drugs. Although some people will use drugs even when they know the consequences, many people abuse drugs without realizing the consequences, especially from using legal drugs such as pain medication, some designer drugs, and in some cases marijuana. When they are unaware of the health risks involved, it is easier for them to join in with their peers and abuse drugs. Education is a great tool for parents wondering “how can we prevent drug use in our children.”
8. Engage in Mindfulness Activities
Mindfulness activities, such as meditation and yoga, have been shown to help with managing negative emotions, reducing anxiety and stress, and improving a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Engaging in these activities will decrease many of the common triggers of drug abuse, including negative emotions. It has also been shown to provide some mental illness help.
9. Use Medication Only as Prescribed
Although marijuana is often called the gateway drug, prescription pain killers are now one of the most common ways that people become addicted to drugs. Opioid pain medication can be addictive, especially when not used according to the prescription. Many people who become addicted to opioid pain medication find themselves turning to heroin because it provides a similar high but is often easier and cheaper to obtain. However, heroin is not regulated and many people inadvertently overdose because the quality and strength varies. Whether they remain on the prescription or turn to illegal drugs, prescription drug addiction is becoming a problem that can be solved by managing the drug use, using it only when necessary, and only as prescribed.
10. Seek Help
One of the best ways to prevent drug use is to seek help for mental illness or behavioral health problems. When a person feels overwhelmed by stress or emotions, talking to a therapist helps manage the situation so he or she will not feel the need to turn to drugs. Treatment will also help those who already find themselves abusing drugs.
Drug Abuse Treatment at DTRC
Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers (DTRC) utilizes expressive and experiential treatment modalities for a holistic approach to treating alcohol abuse and addiction, as well as mental health problems and dual diagnosis. Our programs include individual and group therapy combined with complementary alternative therapeutic activities such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, equine therapy, and music therapy. We do not just treat the disorder; we treat the individual and teach coping mechanisms and life skills for a healthier life. You can learn more by talking to our Admissions team at (415) 366-6922.