Substance abuse remains one of the most prevalent health problems in the United States of America. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 19.3 million people aged 18 and above suffer from substance abuse disorder (SUD).
To further break this down:
- 7.4M struggle with illicit drug abuse
- 14.4M struggle with alcohol abuse
- 2.5M struggle with both
With media glamorizing alcohol and drug use, it’s no surprise that anyone can get sucked into the world of addiction. But there are a few things you can do to protect yourself against the looming threat of substance abuse disorder.
Choose your circle
Contrary to popular belief, adults, too, can succumb to peer pressure just as much as adolescents do. According to health psychologist Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, PhD of the University of Wisconsin, the people around us can have a major influence on how we think, feel, and behave.
Pressure from peers, Dr. Mirgain adds, can cause us to feel like we have to “keep up with the Jones”. This is why choosing who you surround yourself with is important if you’d like to form healthy habits (and avoid harmful ones while you’re at it).
If you have a hobby or something you’re passionate about, find a group that shares similar interests as you.
If you can’t find yourself distancing from the people who can exert negative influence on you, learn how to say no.
Be conscious of the risk factors
While addiction and substance abuse can happen to people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and status quo, some are more predisposed to these conditions than others. Genetics, for instance, can increase your likelihood of addiction. In fact, 40 to 60% of a person’s vulnerability to addiction is hereditary.
A National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded study has concluded that addiction risk is a combination of both genetics and environmental factors.
By cross-checking measured behaviors of up to 1.2 million people with life events, physical traits, and existing medical conditions, then correlating them with specific genes, they found that there were over 400 locations in the genome and at least 566 variants within those locations that influence smoking or alcohol use.
In addition to the “nature AND nurture” factor of one’s predisposition to addiction, there’s also exposure to stress, how the drugs are consumed, and the age at which a person has first started using drugs.
By knowing these factors (and how many of these you are exposed to), you are more likely to overcome them by avoidance, or finding a healthier way to cope with the factors.
Find healthier ways to cope with stress
As mentioned earlier, stress is one of the major risk factors for drug addiction and substance abuse. Many turn to alcohol or illicit substances to cope with everyday stress brought by work or personal issues.
However, once the high or inebriation dissipates, the problems you’re experiencing will still be there, and you’ll be left feeling even more anxious. You might even risk developing physical and mental health issues in the long run.
Finding healthier ways to cope with stress will not only protect you from substance abuse, but also keep your physical and mental health in check. Some of the best ways to cope with stress are taking up a new hobby, getting into sports, or volunteering.
Exposure to nature or green spaces can help alleviate stress too! It reduces blood pressure, lowers heart rate, relieves muscle tension, and slows down the production of stress hormones. If you can, take every opportunity to be exposed to nature through gardening, or exploring the nearby woods.
Striking the balance between work and personal life can be just as overwhelming. But it’s not only possible. It’s also crucial. By channeling your energy to what matters most, you are decluttering your schedule of things that will cause unnecessary stress which could lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking or taking drugs.
There are a couple of ways you can achieve the right balance between career and family life:
- Set time boundaries at work and stick to them.
- Limit time on the screen so you don’t get tempted to check on work emails when you’re at home.
- Set goals around what you value highly
- Have time for self-care (a.k.a. Establish a me-time)
- Delegate and accept help at home and at work.
- Love what you do and do what you love
Seek professional help
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are approximately 57 MIllion people suffering from mental illness. And yet, despite the prevalence of mental and behavioral issues, not many would seek help. Stigma is one of the major reasons.
Mental illness carries with it a stigma that keeps people from getting the help they needed. As a result, many who are suffering from mental illness often self medicate to address their psychological issues.
This often leads to substance abuse disorders in the long run, and co-occurring illnesses are often more difficult to address.
If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, do know that you are not alone. Speak with a mental health professional if you are experiencing psychological or emotional problems that you are struggling to cope with.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And this rings true with addiction and other substance abuse disorders.
Addiction is easier to avoid than to quit from. Hence, it’s best that we keep ourselves happy, healthy, stress, and drug-free.
If you know someone who is struggling with substance abuse disorder, seek help immediately. Restore Health and Wellness is one of the best places to start your recovery journey. Our 65-bed facility offers residential therapeutic services in a comfortable drug and alcohol-free environment with breathtaking views and plush amenities.
To know which of our programs can help you achieve your recovery goals, speak with one of our treatment specialists. Call (888) 979-4570 or visit our addiction treatment center in Ecino, CA at 6918 Owensmouth Ave Canoga Park, CA 91303 24/7 Admissions (818) 722-9019 On-Site Contact (818) 806-3914.