5 Tips to Help Prevent Substance Misuse

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While not everyone who uses drugs or alcohol misuses them or becomes addicted, there are some things that you can do to prevent substance misuse. These include:

1. Understand the differences between substance use, misuse, and addiction.

Not every person who uses alcohol or drugs develops an addiction. In fact, it’s important to understand the differences between substance use, misuse, and substance use disorder.1

  • Substance use refers to any form of drug or alcohol use.
  • Substance misuse describes the improper or unhealthy use of any substance, including drugs and alcohol. This encompasses taking a prescription in a manner other than how it was prescribed, taking someone else’s medication, or using a substance recreationally to get high.
  • Substance use disorder, the diagnostic term for addiction, refers to the chronic, continued use of a substance despite the negative implications it has on all aspects of your life.

2. Avoid temptation and peer pressure.

This may be easier said than done, but it begins with the development of healthy friendships and relationships. Don’t spend time with family or others who pressure you to drink or use drugs. They say, “We become most like those we surround ourselves with.” Thus, surround yourself with people who misuse drugs and alcohol, and you are more likely to do so as well.

Additionally, peer pressure can happen to teens and adults alike. It’s best to plan ahead, know what you’re going to say, and remove yourself from the situation to prevent yourself from giving in.

3. Seek help for mental illness.

Many people diagnosed with a substance use disorder will also be diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder and vice versa. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or other mental health condition, get professional help from a licensed therapist or counselor. A professional can provide you with healthy coping skills and medication (if necessary) to alleviate your symptoms before you potentially self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

4. Examine the risk factors.

Look at your family history regarding mental illness and addiction. Studies indicate that this disease tends to run in the family and therefore, some people may have a genetic predisposition to addiction. However, genetics is just one part of the many factors that can impact your overall risk. Besides a family history of addiction, adverse early life experiences such as trauma, abuse, and neglect and environmental factors like living in areas with high crime rates or where there’s easy access to substances can impact your risk of developing a substance use disorder.

5. Keep a well-balanced life.

People often turn to drugs and alcohol when something in their life is missing or not working. Practicing stress management and mindfulness skills can help you identify potential triggers that may lead you to use drugs or alcohol and help you manage life stressors in a healthy way.

Set goals. Stay active. Participate in healthy hobbies and activities. Develop a supportive and encouraging network. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. And get plenty of sleep.

And if you do find yourself or a loved one teetering toward unhealthy use of any substance, call American Addiction Centers (AAC) at . Let us help you get the help you need.

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