While it’s practically impossible to prevent anyone and everyone from using drugs, there are things we can all do to avoid drug and/or alcohol abuse. By sharing this knowledge with those closest to you, you yourself may be able to prevent them from doing drugs, too. Here are the top five ways to help prevent drug abuse:
1. Effectively deal with peer pressure. The biggest reason teens start using drugs is because their friends utilize peer pressure. No one likes to be left out, and teens (and yes, some adults, too) find themselves doing things they normally wouldn’t do, just to fit in. In these cases, you need to either find a better group of friends that won’t pressure you into doing harmful things, or you need to find a good way to say no. Teens should prepare a good excuse or plan ahead of time, to keep from giving into tempting situations.
2. Deal with life pressure. People today are overworked and overwhelmed, and often feel like a good break or a reward is deserved. But in the end, drugs only make life more stressful — and many of us all too often fail to recognize this in the moment. To prevent using drugs as a reward, find other ways to handle stress and unwind. Take up exercising, read a good book, volunteer with the needy, create something. Anything positive and relaxing helps take the mind off using drugs to relieve stress.
3. Seek help for mental illness. Mental illness and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. Those with a mental illness may turn to drugs as a way to ease the pain. Those suffering from some form of mental illness, such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder should seek the help of a trained professional for treatment before it leads to substance abuse.
4. Examine the risk factors. If you’re aware of the biological, environmental and physical risk factors you possess, you’re more likely to overcome them. A history of substance abuse in the family, living in a social setting that glorifies drug abuse and/or family life that models drug abuse can be risk factors.
5. Keep a well-balanced life. People take up drugs when something in their life is not working, or when they’re unhappy about their lives or where their lives are going. Look at life’s big picture, and have priorities in order.