Whether you’re a parent who is worried about a child who abuses substances or someone who has addiction or alcoholism running in their family, there are many ways you can prevent addiction before it starts. Prevention is important – we prevent hunger by going to the grocery store and eating. We prevent injuries by wearing helmets when riding a bicycle or motorcycle. We prevent illness by treating our bodies with love and care. Without prevention, life may not be as easy and painless as we want it to be because prevention protects us and the ones we love from harm.
Addiction is a non-discriminatory disease. That means it can affect people from all walks of life. Addiction and alcoholism affect the rich, poor, young, and old at staggering rates. In fact, approximately 1 in every 12 American adults suffers from substance use disorder. People abuse substances for several reasons, some to cope with trauma or emotions, some due to genetic predisposition, and some are just flat-out curious. However, addiction doesn’t have to be your story. There are actionable steps you can take to prevent addiction before it starts.
Prevent Addiction Before It Starts
There are a lot of ways to prevent addiction. Most of them are self-care, relationships, and healthy coping skills. Even if preventing addiction isn’t your top priority, doing these things will benefit your mental health and allow you to live a happier, more fulfilled life. Here are five practical addiction prevention tips.
1. Educate Youth
One of the best and most effective ways to prevent addiction is to educate the youth about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse. People who are educated are more likely to respond to situations appropriately because they are aware of the risks of negative behaviors. People may begin experimenting with drugs or alcohol early, so educating youth is important. While this can be done on a community or school level, the best prevention education comes from parents and role models. This opens the door for open communication about complex issues, like substance abuse, that can be prevented.
2. Teach Healthy Coping Skills
Many people with substance use disorder began using drugs and alcohol to cope with unpleasant emotions. Stress, anxiety, or depression are a few of these issues. Although substance abuse may relieve these symptoms temporarily, it isn’t a healthy way to cope. Instead, knowing how to cope with emotions in healthy ways may play a key role in preventing addiction. Some healthy coping skills to use instead of drinking or drugging include:
- Talking to someone you trust or a therapist
- Taking a walk or run outdoors
- Embracing creativity by writing, drawing, painting, or playing an instrument
- Keeping a journal to express emotions
- Deep breathing techniques
- Prayer and meditation
- Set aside time for self-care
3. Get Involved in Something You Care About
Finding and participating in a passion or something you care deeply about will motivate you to live more purposefully and healthily. In addition, it will keep you busy and offer you a meaningful hobby to tend to while you’re feeling down. Whether it’s volunteering at an animal shelter, working with disabled children, climate activism, writing short stories, gardening, or opening your own Etsy store, finding your passion will help keep you focused on the things that really matter in life. People who find meaning and passion in life are happier and healthier, therefore, less likely to fall into the grips of addiction.
4. Stay Close to Friends and Family
Having healthy relationships is important to maintaining one’s mental and emotional health. Not only do friends and family offer support when you are struggling, but human connection is essential. In fact, some people go as far as to say addiction is the opposite of connection and that human connection is one factor that helps prevent addiction. Humans are social creatures. Being able to lean on your friends and family for support is far better than turning to drugs or alcohol.
5. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is something so simple but so easy to neglect. It doesn’t have to be a lavish day at the spa or an extravagant vacation. Self-care comes down to treating the mind, body, and spirit well. It means eating a nutritious diet, getting enough exercise, and taking time to relax or meditate. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of everyday life, but it’s important to slow down and ensure you’re taking care of yourself. If you don’t practice self-care, life can get overwhelming. However, by taking care of yourself, you will ensure that your mind and body are as healthy as possible. This eliminates the desire to abuse substances.
Need Help? It’s Not Too Late
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, it’s not too late. Asking for help is the first step toward a better life. After seeking treatment, you can apply these tools to help prevent future relapse and stay healthy. Contact us today to get started on the road to recovery.