talking to a mental health professional about how to prevent substance abuse

9 Tips on How to Prevent Prevent Substance Abuse

Last Updated: Jul 12th 2021

Reviewed by Laura Riley

Finding ways to prevent substance abuse starts with recognizing that the potential exists. There could be many reasons why addiction is a possibility, but by being proactive, you’re less likely to develop a serious problem. 

While there is no foolproof way on how to prevent addiction, there are many ways to make the possibility less likely. Developing a game plan and having a support system in place can drastically reduce the opportunity from arising. There are several activities and individuals that can help keep you on track. Find the best methods of prevention that will work seamlessly into your life. 

Learn How to Maintain Balance in Your Life

Life is all about maintaining a balance between work, leisure, family, and alone time. The ability to prevent substance abuse starts with the opportunity to maintain a proper balance between each of these. Stressors often occur when someone is spending too much time working or consequently not working and being alone. 

Everyone is different as it pertains to their perfect balance in working and family life. And as we get older, these preferences will change. It’s important to have a deep understanding of self and optimal time management for each. Learn to recognize the signs of burnout from working too much or stress from spending too much time on leisure activities. 

When switching between work to family activities or visa versa, you should be excited to move from one to the other. This is a key indicator that you have spent enough time in one area of your life and are ready for the switch. If you feel nothing but exhaustion or stress from the change, you might need to reconsider how you’re spending your time. 

Take Time for Self Care

Self-care is important as you should ultimately be the person that loves yourself the most. While things like hair cuts and massage appointments may feel selfish, they are not. In order to feel like your best self, you have to treat yourself as such. 

Self-care can also include simple activities like blocks of time reading alone or simply taking 10 minutes a day to meditate. Small breaks in your day to sit and reflect can make a world of difference and can stop a person from making a huge mistake. Substance use disorder often occurs in individuals as a way to cope with stress and change. 

Substance abuse is the opposite of self-care. Although both activities stimulate brain activity as they both make the person feel good. Therefore, substituting a self-destructive activity like drinking alcohol or abusing drugs with a productive activity like getting a massage can ultimately provide a better result. Utilizing self-care when necessary helps prevent substance abuse.

Consider the Value of Proper Nutrition

“You are what you eat” is not just a catching phrase; it’s also extremely valid in recognizing how food can ultimately affect our emotions. The best meal to enhance your mood is a balanced one. Combining complex carbohydrates with lean proteins and colorful produce can increase levels of serotonin in the brain, making you feel good all day long! For example, sweet potatoes provide an excellent source of both carbs and protein, while quinoa provides some much-needed fiber for digestion.

A diet that is also rich in vegetables and fruits provides the body with doses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants. These will not only nourish your body and boost the immune system, but they can also boost levels of happiness. 

Foods that are rich in fats and simple carbohydrates are well known to affect overall health negatively. These foods will leave you feeling drained, sluggish, and less alert. When you’re not feeling your best, you’re more susceptible to abuse drugs or alcohol

Seek Treatment for Mental Health Disorders and Medical Conditions

Nearly 1 in 5 adults in American are living with a mental health disorder. Seeking treatment for these conditions is crucial in regulating mood and overall well-being. The stigma surrounding mental health is changing. Getting help for these disorders is encouraged by more and more employers as celebrities and many other personalities speak out against negative connotations. 

Mental health disorders are often a co-occurring cause of substance abuse. The best way to prevent substance abuse lies heavily in finding an appropriate treatment for mental health concerns. 

Work with your medical provider and find the best treatment regimen that works for you. It takes some time to find the right blend of medication and therapy to combat mental health conditions in many cases. Learn to be patient and vigilant in your treatment, and make sure you find a mental health expert that understands your specific condition. 

Create a Solid Network

Surround yourself with people you want to emulate, hard workers, and go after what they believe. It’s a lot easier when you’re surrounded by friends who support you for the choices that will help you succeed rather than push you towards failure. Peer pressure doesn’t go away once you leave high school; it still exists as an adult. The best way to avoid dealing with negative peer pressure is to make sure the people closest to you support good decisions. 

Having a large social circle of acquaintances can leave you open to peer pressure. Make sure the people you associate with enjoy the same healthy activities that you do. Your friends and family should provide you with positive influences and encourage you to be a better person. 

Develop a Game Plan for Stress and Other Negative Emotions

Stress, sadness, and other forms of emotional pain will occur. There are many healthy ways to express and get over these emotions. Substance abuse never actually cures these feelings; it simply delays the pain. In order to get over a bad situation like losing a loved one or getting fired from your job, you must learn to work through the pain. 

If you’re looking to prevent addiction, it’s crucial to pay attention to transitional life moments. It’s common to feel so overcome with sadness that you think you’ll do whatever is necessary. Talking to a friend, exercising, watching a funny movie are all ways you can alleviate pain. It’s important to develop a game plan to work through those emotions before they overwhelm you. 

Find Out How Addiction Occurs

Substance abuse typically starts with the recreational use of alcohol or other addictive substances. It progresses to seeking out a state of intoxication each time that substance is used. Alcoholics can’t have just one drink but need to get drunk- even if it means overindulging to achieve this effect. 

If you’re concerned about someone who may be drifting towards addiction – whether they’re doing so intentionally or not – there are some important actions to look out for:

  • Abusing addictive substances to become intoxicated
  • Seeking out substances on a regular basis
  • Abusing prescription medication
  • Never having any money despite working or constantly borrowing money
  • Changes in weight or the way the person looks
  • Getting into trouble with law enforcement

Risk factors can also help determine if someone may be more likely to develop an addiction. Preventing substance abuse can start by recognizing these factors and taking steps to steer the person in the correct direction. Individuals who grow up with little or no parental guidance or a low income are statistically more likely to develop a substance problem.

Examine Your Family History with Substance Use Disorder

Family environment and genetics are two major factors that influence substance use disorder. The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) conducted a study that found if you have family members with drug or alcohol problems, your likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs is much higher.

Growing up in a home where a loved one (or several loved ones) consistently misuse drugs or alcohol makes the behaviors easier to adapt. Studies show that the trait of addiction is heritable, depending on an individual’s relationship with a person who has substance abuse. For example, if someone closely related to you has problems with alcohol and drugs, it places them at high risk of developing these same addictions themselves. 

How to prevent addiction when it’s a learned act? It starts with a plan for treatment and a long-term strategy for recovery. 

Have a Strategy to Ask for Help

If you or a loved one is susceptible to substance abuse, it’s best to develop a strategy to ask for help. There are many ways to go about doing so. Designate a friend or family member as someone you can reach out to in an emergency situation. You should also find a trusted doctor or mental health provider that you can confide in. Having multiple options is always best if one is unavailable. 

Talk to an Addiction Treatment Specialist Today

Substance abuse can cause devastating consequences for an individual, their family members, and loved ones. Fortunately, prevention is possible with some effort. Knowing what to look out for in friends or relatives who might be struggling enables you to provide support rather than enable them. 

It’s often not as easy as one may think when trying to prevent substance abuse. However, if just a little bit of attention during transitional times goes towards helping someone get through difficult periods. In some cases, it may just not be enough. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, call North Jersey Recovery Center today to speak with a specialist. We can help answer common questions related to addiction and treatment options. Ask for help from a professional; that’s what we’re here for.  

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Laura-Riley-Cropped-Profile-150x150Laura Riley, MA, LCADC, CCS is an Administrator with North Jersey Recovery Center.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>