Drug abuse is one of the most widespread problems, impacting not just the end user, but also their families and society more widely.
According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH 2019), 20.4 million over-12s in the United States had a past-year substance use disorder. Over 71% of these people grappled with alcohol use disorder, 41% with an illicit substance use disorder, and 12% diagnosed with both an AUD and SUD.
Over the past twenty years, an opioid epidemic has ravaged the United States. In the late 1990s, big pharmaceutical companies persuaded the medical community that opioid painkillers were not addictive. Resultantly, these highly effective painkillers were widely prescribed for a range of chronic pain, leading to millions of Americans becoming addicted to prescription painkillers.
When you introduce the added complication of addiction co-occurring with a mental health disorder – 9.5 million Americans have a dual diagnosis – it’s imperative you do everything possible to limit the chance of you or your loved one becoming addicted to drugs.
Drug abuse, then, is a nuanced issue, but there are some simple pointers you can consider to avoid grappling with the progressive and relapsing disease of addiction.
Some Tips for Preventing Drug Abuse in You and Your Family
1. Become aware of your risk factors for addiction
2. Educate yourself about all aspects of substance abuse
3. Address underlying mental health conditions
4. Ensure your life is balanced and structured
5. Learn to resist peer pressure
6. Develop healthy coping strategies for life’s everyday stressors
1) Become aware of your risk factors for addiction
While environment and social factors can contribute toward someone developing an addiction to drugs, most scientists estimate from 40% to 60% of your risk profile for drug addiction is genetic.
Familiarize yourself with any family history of alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and mental illness. Forewarned is forearmed.
Gender can also play a role in addiction. Women may begin using substances in smaller quantities than men, but drug use among women escalates into full-blown addiction more rapidly than in men. Women are also more likely to abuse prescription medications.
In short, the more aware you are of the various physical, environmental, and biological risk factors for addiction, the better placed you are to stay sober and avoid the scourge of addiction.
2) Educate yourself about all aspects of substance abuse
While for generations it was suggested that addiction might be a choice, the modern view is that addiction is a progressive and relapsing disease, for which there is no cure, only ongoing treatment.
Learning how substance abuse develops can help you sidestep becoming addicted to prescription medications or illicit drugs in the first place. The typical pattern sees someone first using prescribed or illicit drugs recreationally, with intoxication as the unwavering end goal.
Alternatively, someone begins taking prescription medication as prescribed and – in the case of benzodiazepines or opioids, for instance – tolerance rapidly builds. Requiring more of the medication to achieve the same effect, dependence and addiction can develop.
For others suffering from underlying and undiagnosed mental health conditions, it’s commonplace to self-medicate with drink or drugs – we’ll examine the futility of this right below.
The more you educate yourself about all aspects of drug abuse and addiction, the more deftly you can prevent yourself becoming consumed by drug use to the extent it starts wrecking your life.
3) Address underlying mental health conditions
Mental illness and substance abuse are closely interrelated.
If you find yourself tempted to use drink or drugs to alleviate the symptoms of a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, you should refrain from this. You might achieve temporary, fleeting relief, but you’ll do nothing to tackle the underlying symptoms. Self-medicating with substances also often makes the symptoms worse over time.
Always consult with your healthcare provider about any mental health issues. With the right treatment, you can ease the symptoms of mental health conditions without resorting to drink or drugs.
4) Ensure your life is balanced and structured
Many people find themselves turning to drink or drugs in order to compensate for something they feel is missing from their life, or when something is not working.
The more balanced your lifestyle, the less likely you are to feel the need for extra stimulation. Eating healthy, whole foods, staying properly hydrated, exercising daily, and focusing on sleep health will all help build a firm and stable foundation for a meaningful and healthy life.
Create goals and dreams for the future. Break these down into small and manageable markers so you can stay focused on the end goal when times are tough and use this to motivate you. Understand that using drink or drugs will move you away from these goals.
5) Learn to resist peer pressure
Scythe away any toxic relationships in your life and avoid any friends or family who pressure you into using substances.
Peer pressure is a major component of life from teen years into adulthood for most people. Many of our behaviors are intended to please other people. If you know you are prone to peer pressure, formulate a strategy in advance to help you stay strong even if tempted to use substances.
6) Develop healthy coping strategies for life’s everyday stressors
Life is a series of ups and downs, with stressors cropping up every day. By using drink or drugs to deal with stressors, you’ll end up making things even more stressful for yourself.
Work on developing healthy coping strategies in place of substance use. Try taking up a new form of exercise, reading, meditating, or yoga as alternative avenues for relaxation and stress-relief.
Get Treatment for Substance Use Disorder at Renaissance Recovery Center
It could be that you or your loved one are already struggling with drug use that has strayed into dependence and possibly even addiction. All that counts at this stage is taking action, and when you’re ready to do this, we’re here to help.
In the event of alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder, we can utilize FDA-approved medications to help minimize the intensity of cravings, while also alleviating some of the more uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. MAT (medication-assisted treatment) is delivered alongside psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). We also offer a range of supplementary holistic therapies and experiential adventure therapy as appropriate.
When you’re ready to seize back the life addiction has stolen, call the friendly Renaissance team at 866.330.9449.