Can You Prevent Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorder (SUD) remains one of the most prevalent health concerns in the United States. A 2018 study from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 19 million citizens aged 18 years old and above struggle with SUD.

To break down the statistics:

  • 4 million struggle with alcohol use disorder
  • 4 million struggle with drug addiction
  • 5 million struggle with both

If a loved one is part of the statistics or you feel like you may be losing control, do not worry. Two things to keep in mind: you aren’t alone and recovery is possible. Although prevention is not always an option for everyone, there are ways to avoid the struggle. Plus, help is always available. Whether it’s a local rehab for drug addiction  or support from family and friends, people are willing to help.

On your own, you can take steps to regain control of your life.

Seek Out Healthy Relationships

Peer pressure can be a part of anyone’s life. It could start in high school, when kids just want to belong. It can be tough for some to “just say no” when a person is surrounded by nearly everyone who keeps saying”yes.” Temptation can be overcome if you take yourself out of an environment that makes it difficult to “just say no.”

Find people who share similar interests without the need to misuse alcohol or opioids. Seek healthy relationships, and you’re less likely to come up against peer pressure that may damage your health and sabotage your life.

Practice Healthier Living Habits

A good diet, regular exercise and meditation are excellent ways to avoid using. The positive feeling that comes with living a healthier lifestyle can strengthen your resistance to the temptation of SUD. Also, a healthier body can help you manage your stress better, especially if stress is a trigger.

Manage Your Stress

It’s no question that people are overwhelmed and overworked with the demands of daily living, particularly with the way the world is now. Due to the stress, most people feel like they need a reward or a good break.

To prevent turning to misusing alcohol or illicit substances as a reward, find other ways to unwind and handle your stress. Indulge in your favorite meal, book a spa treatment, watch the Lord of the Rings movies in order – anything relaxing and positive can help take your mind off your stress.

Work-Life Balance

Striking a balance between work and personal life can be difficult, but it is possible. Channel your energy to what matters most and de-clutter your schedule of things that cause stress. De-cluttering reduces your risk for unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Here are some ways to promote a healthy work-life balance between your family life and career:

  • Set time boundaries and stick to them
  • Delegate and accept help at work and home
  • Have time for self-care

Find the Support You Need

People who struggle with emotional distress are at a greater risk for substance use disorder. Mental health disorders and SUD often go together since people struggling with severe anxiety or depression turn to alcohol or drugs to ease their pain.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, seek help immediately. Get your support from therapy and social communities (e.g. spiritual or religious organizations), so you can work through negative emotions that may be eating you up. In the process, you can change those behaviors and develop life-affirming behaviors.

A support group can also help you release unspoken emotions, which contribute to your mental health concerns. Find a group where you can openly discuss your struggles without judgment. The best support groups will not only affirm the reality of your struggles, they’ll also help you recover.

There is no guaranteed way to prevent yourself or someone you love from using or misusing alcohol. But you can certainly take steps to minimize your risk of leading an unhealthy life. If you or a loved one is struggling, do not lose hope. Recovery is possible as long as you seek help immediately. The road to it may be long and rarely a straight one, but what you do now can help you avoid the long-term effects of substance use disorder. You can and will get through this.

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