While there is no one way to prevent substance abuse, there are many strategies one can take that not only help exercise good self-control but form such strong healthy habits that the temptation to use drugs and alcohol is nearly non-existent. These healthy habits are not only good for adults to practice, but they’re also important to encourage in teens and young adults as well to help prevent substance abuse from happening later in life.
Recognize areas of stress
One of the most common causes of drug and alcohol abuse comes from the inability to properly handle stress. Unfortunately, we live in a very stressful world where we are frequently overworked and overwhelmed. We feel the need to be constantly available and present to everyone through texting, email and social media. With the frequent demands on our time, energy and availability, we leave no time for rest, leisure and life-giving hobbies.
By recognizing when and where you feel the most stress, you will be able to mentally prepare yourself for those moments and plan your attack accordingly. Not only will you be better prepared to handle the stress when you know it’s coming, but you’ll begin to be less stressed as the element of surprise is no longer a factor.
Properly handle peer pressure
Peer pressure can be one of the leading reasons people do things they normally wouldn’t do. When everyone around you is doing something, it can be difficult to stick to your personal commitments, say no, and mean no.
If you know you’ll be attending an event or party where peer pressure might be a factor, plan ahead of time regarding how you’re going to handle it. Perhaps ask one of your reliable friends to attend with you and keep you accountable. Create a reward system before you go and, if you succeed in staying sober for the entire event, treat yourself to a meal out, a morning coffee or that book you’ve been wanting. Do what is necessary and helpful to say and stick to your “no.”
Steer clear of the situation entirely
If you don’t think yourself strong enough to attend said event or be around certain people, don’t. It’s as simple as that. No one is asking you to be stronger than you are or even to test the limits of your strength. If you know something is a bad idea or you just don’t want to risk compromising all your hard work, avoid the temptation entirely. It’s much harder for peer pressure to influence you when you’re comfortably watching a show on your couch.
Understand risk factors
Certain factors are more likely to put a person at risk for substance abuse, so a key factor in preventing it is understanding and recognizing those risks. For example, those who grew up in a household where drug and alcohol use was normalized are more likely to develop their own addictions as adults. However, if this individual is aware of this risk factor, they can take important steps to craft a healthy life for themselves, like becoming a member of a community that supports their ideals, implementing daily exercise habits, eating intentionally good foods and taking important time for sleep and leisure.
Additionally, those who struggle with mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, traumatic stress and intense loss or grief are more at risk for developing a substance abuse disorder. By getting the proper care for these mental disorders at the beginning, the use of substances as a coping method can be prevented.
Learn about drug and alcohol abuse
The more you know about drug and alcohol’s effects on the body, the less likely you are to abuse them. By taking the time to research and educate yourself on the debilitating repercussions, it’s easier to say no because you know what you’re turning down. The temptation to test it out will be less because you’ll know that what might seem like a harmless activity could quickly turn into a lifelong difficulty.
Ask for help
It’s always comforting to know that when the best chance at preventing substance abuse is to turn to someone else for help or guidance, that help is always available. Perhaps it’s a close family member or friend who you can share your concerns and thoughts with and who, in turn, can provide you with accountability and support.
Others might prefer more privacy in regards to this manner, seeking help from someone not as close to them. Counselors and therapists provide not only confidentiality, but support and perspective invaluable to preventing substance abuse.
If you are concerned about substance abuse, reach out to Real Recovery Clinical Services today for help at 855-363-7325.