This article is published by Recovery Connection
You recognize that you cannot use drugs and alcohol like others and that you may need treatment and ongoing support to prevent relapse. Is it possible to prevent drug addiction altogether? Anything is possible, but if you are predisposed genetically to addiction your chances are greater for developing an addiction. This means that if drug or alcohol addiction runs in your family, then you too may be at risk.
Society may try to prevent drug addiction through education. However, if you are already struggling with substance abuse then you may need treatment to prevent continued use and consequences. If you are looking at this page, you probably are questioning whether or not you have a problem with substances. In that case, you may need substance abuse treatment rather than trying to reverse the snowball of addiction.
Steps to Prevent Drug Addiction
The best tool against developing an addiction is avoiding drug or alcohol use in the first place. But that’s easier said than done. Many people begin using as young as age 13 and are too young to realize the damaging impact addiction will have on their lives. If you are lucky to have recognized the addiction pattern early, then follow these steps to prevent drug addiction.
1. Understand Why People Use Drugs and Alcohol
- Using addictive drugs (illicit or prescribed) for recreational purposes.
- Abusing an addictive prescription medication.
- Seeking out intoxication every time you use.
- Genetics & Family History
2. Understand the Difference Between Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction
Alcohol and drug abuse and alcohol and drug addiction are defined differently. A person who uses heavily and then can abruptly stop is considered to be abusing alcohol or drugs. But addiction occurs when the body requires the alcohol or drugs to stop withdrawal symptoms. The line between abuse and addiction is not solidly defined because a person may be abusing alcohol and drugs and experiencing the negative consequences of addiction.
3. Avoid Temptations and Peer Pressure
You may have heard the expression, “You’re only as good as the company you keep,” and in reality, that statement is true. If you have friends or family members who pressure you to use alcohol or drugs, avoid them. Make new friends who practice healthier habits, who do well in school, who are motivated at work and who have goals.
Develop goals and dreams for yourself. Remember, alcohol or drug use can turn to addiction rapidly; no one plans on becoming a drug addict or alcoholic. While in active addiction, the only goal possible is to get drugs or alcohol to feed the addiction. Regardless of whether it is abuse or addiction with drugs or alcohol, both require professional addiction treatment.
4. Find the Support You Need
People struggling with emotional distress are at greater risk for developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Work on developing coping skills. If you have events or experiences in your past that affect your feelings, find a reliable and healthy source of support. If you have depression, anxiety, paranoia or other mental health problems, counseling or therapy and social communities such as religious or spiritual organizations can help you work through negative emotions and behaviors in a healthy, life-affirming manner. Remember that alcohol and drugs in combination with mental health disorders only make the mental health problem worse. Don’t try to self-medicate your feelings or physical discomfort.
5. Practice Healthier Living Habits
Exercise, eating well and meditation are excellent ways to avoid using drugs or alcohol. Quite often, the results you feel from living a healthier lifestyle can help you resist the temptation to use drugs or alcohol to escape. A healthy body helps you cope with daily stress. If you have practiced living healthy and managing stress, a trauma can more easily be managed.
Addiction specialists can advise you about addiction to drugs or alcohol, mental health issues and the combination of the two. This information can help you prevent drug addiction. Family-based drug or alcohol prevention plans are also highly effective at helping children avoid the temptations of drugs or alcohol.