Drug Abuse: 10 Incredibly Useful Tips to Avoid It ... and Why
Drug abuse is a common problem worldwide, rapidly increasing among Americans aged below 30. It refers to the intake of various legal and illegal substances in a manner it shouldn’t be. Even prescription drugs can be a part of drug abuse.
Consumption of drugs (even the most dangerous drugs) induces a pleasurable feeling in the brain, and you start doing drugs regularly even after knowing the ill effects. It can lead to multiple physical and mental problems. If not treated in time, it may even lead to death!
Here are some valuable tips to avoid drug abuse. These have prompted positive changes among sufferers. Read on to know more!
What is Drug Addiction, Anyway?
Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long-lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.
Drug addiction is different from drug abuse, though. Drug abuse is when people use drugs recreationally without any negative consequences. People who abuse drugs are at high risk for developing an addiction, however. Substance abuse almost always ends up as drug addiction
People with substance use disorder may have a strong urge to use drugs even when they know it’s damaging their health. They may try to quit using drugs such as alcohol, but find that they can’t on their own. That’s because drug addiction is a chronic disease, meaning it lasts for a person’s lifetime. It’s also because the changes that have happened in the brain from using drugs are long-lasting.
People with drug addiction often need substance use treatment to stop using drugs. Treatment can involve medication, behavioral therapy, and support groups. People with drug addiction may also need to go through detoxification (detox), which is when the body gets rid of the drugs.
What is Drug Detox?
Detox can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, so it’s important that people with drug addiction are under medical supervision during this process. Never attempt drug detox on your own. Withdrawing from many addictive drugs can be medically complex and even dangerous. Benzodiazepine withdrawal and alcohol withdrawal can cause seizures and even coma when a person stops using them. This is particularly risky in the case of long-time drug use.
Drug detox should always be done under the care of a medical professional. At the very least, detoxing alone is unlikely to be successful.
After detox, people with drug addiction may still have strong cravings to use drugs. That’s why treatment doesn’t stop after detox. It’s important to continue treatment with medication and behavioral therapy to decrease the chances of relapse.
What are the Risks of Not Treating Drug Addiction?
Drug abuse intervention is critically important. People who don’t get treatment for drug addiction are at risk for a number of serious consequences, including:
Mental health problems
Overdose is perhaps the best-known reason to avoid drug abuse. When people abuse drugs, they put themselves at risk for accidental overdose. Drug overdoses are often deadly, and they’re becoming more and more common. In fact, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50 in the United States. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) found drug overdose deaths topped 100,000 annually for the first time in United States history.
Opioid drugs were chiefly responsible for the increase in drug overdoses. These include opioid painkillers, illegal drugs such as heroin, and the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Even less-lethal outcomes from untreated drug abuse are still dangerous. People who abuse drugs are also at risk for contracting diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases like hepatitis. This is because people who inject illegal drugs often share needles, which can spread these diseases.
People who abuse drugs are also more likely to develop lung disease, heart disease, and mental health problems. And finally, people who use drugs are more likely to be involved in violence or criminal activity.
All of these risks underscore the importance of getting treatment for substance use disorder and drug addiction.
This is why the prevention of drug addiction is so important -- simply put, it saves lives.
10 Proven Tips to Avoid Drug Abuse Everyone Can Use
Drug abuse can include any drug, whether prescribed opioid painkillers, cocaine, or cannabis. Even common household products can be abused as inhalants. Drug abuse can affect both the psychological and physical life of the consumer. A few simple yet effective tips have been listed down below to cope and combat with substance abuse.
Tip 1: Accept There is a Problem
The first and most challenging part of recovery from drug abuse is to accept that there is a problem. One of the consequences of drug and alcohol overdose is that it affects chemicals in the brain. Thus, the user keeps making excuses to continue drug consumption.
However, by admitting the problem, one takes the first step toward treating the problem.
Tip 2: Avoid Peer Pressure and Temptations
Avoid environments or people who tempt you with drug abuse. Instead, surround yourself with supportive people with positive influences who respect the idea of sobriety.
Tip 3: Communicate the Problems to Loved Ones
If an individual has started abusing substances due to traumatic experiences like loss of a family member or a job, these emotions can get bottled up. This further serves as a trigger of abuse and destructive behavior.
As per professional advice, an abuser needs to share one’s inner feelings with a loved one or a professional who can offer drug abuse counseling and give valuable insights.
Tip 4: Identify the Triggers
A trigger is an emotional reaction an individual develops because of a disturbing experience or an external factor in the past. It increases one’s urge to use drugs. This is especially common during the last stages of drug abuse treatment, leading to addiction relapse.
Triggers are mostly related to incidents causing stress, anger, anxiety, and depression. After identifying them, it becomes easy to manage the victims.
Tip 5: Understand the Risk Factors
While causes can vary from person to person, the risk factors of drug abuse are widely common. They include:
Genetics: If drug or alcohol abuse runs in the entire family, it may be due to genetics. Biology plays a vital role in one's life of picking up an addiction.
Environment: The environment and people around a person play an essential role in developing an addiction. In fact, peer pressure is one of the main reasons for teen drug abuse.
Trauma: Trauma has also been an increased risk factor for developing drug abuse problems. This is especially common among women. Victims of trauma often develop negative lifestyle habits after sexual or physical abuse.
Tip 6: Seek Professional Help
A drug abuse treatment center will establish a positive and structured environment for addicts to start on their recovery journey. Moreover, professional staff are trained to provide tailored person-centric treatment to each resident for quicker recovery.
The treatment plan depends on the type of drug consumed and the physical and mental health history of the victim.
Tip 7: Change the Environment
Even after quitting alcohol or drug abuse, many people relapse. It is often because of outside factors, such as their social environment. Changing the environment, place, or friend group might help. This will further induce changes in the following habits:
The way of dealing with stress
How one spends free time
With whom one spends free time
Tip 8: Maintain a Well-balanced Life
When life is full of stress, it is easy to relapse. So, one must live a balanced life to avoid abusing drugs. This will help one maintain both a holistic mental and physical state which allows a person to live without abusing drugs or alcohol.
Tip 9: Take Action Against Relapse
One of the biggest threats to the process of recovery is relapsing. As much as 40% to 60% of people with substance abuse issues relapse at least once. Moreover, individuals cannot even take disciplined actions on themselves during a relapse.
So, they must visit drug rehab for drug abuse and get their treatment back on track. Not to mention it will also help them understand what led them to relapse and regain back their confidence to avoid it in the future.
Tip 10: Integrate Healthy Coping Mechanism in Daily Life
Since mental illness and stress can cause repeated desires of substance and alcohol abuse, it is better to adopt healthy habits in addition to securing professional help.
Meditation: By practicing meditation daily, one can reach the point of self-reflection. This helps to deal with emotional and stressful moments and avoid the reasons for getting upset.
Creative Hobbies: Hobbies help to avoid negative thoughts. If there is something that stimulates creativity such as painting, gardening, dancing, and writing, pursue the same regularly and make it a regular habit.
Exercise: It releases endorphins (happy hormones) just as drugs do. So, one will not need substances to deal with stress. In other words, individuals can sweat it out!
Individuals can manage their drug abuse-related habits better when they know what triggers drug abuse. So here are a few common addiction triggers … and ways to defuse them before they can cause harm.
Trigger: People suffering from stress often turn towards prescription drug abuse, with doctor-prescribed medicines or anything that serves the individual as their coping mechanism, i.e., alcohol, cigarettes, or any other addictive substance.
How to Avoid: One should evaluate the situation, people, circumstance, or place which induces stress and stay away from it.
#2: Place or People Connected to Drug Addiction
Trigger: People or places surrounding an individual often serve as triggers for relapse. It can even be a family member or a friend creating a sense of vulnerability.
How to Avoid: So, instead of engaging with them, one can opt for healthier activities such as jogging, reading, watching a movie, or even outdoor sports.
#3: Uncomfortable or Negative Emotions (HALT)
Trigger: Negative emotions, referred to by the acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired emotions), may act as the primary trigger of drug abuse. This further reduces one's ability to cope with challenging situations or stress.
How to Avoid: Meditation or yoga may help in releasing negative energy. Also, people can seek help from a specialist or mental health professional. These experts can help one develop coping strategies against drug abuse at home or devise program-based treatments according to one's needs.
#4: Over-Confidence in Recovery
Trigger: Individuals must understand that recovering from an addiction is a continuous journey. If an individual undergoing recovery from drug abuse thinks that one overdose will not make a big difference, it can lead to a riskier situation and result in a relapse.
How to Avoid: Do not be over-confident during your recovery journey. Ask for help whenever you need it.
#5: Times of Celebration
Trigger: Celebration times such as holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries can be triggers of drug abuse as well. It’s easy to think you can handle just one drink. Can you?
How to Avoid: It is usual for individuals in recovery to lose control and at such times, it is best to consult their sponsor, case manager, or another trusted person who can look after cases of relapse.
#6: Physical or Mental Illness
Trigger: As drug abuse and mental health have a direct connection, people with anxiety and depression are more prone to experiencing triggers. In addition, chronic pain and other illness also force individuals to relapse.
How to Avoid: It is best to visit a doctor and learn about the recovery process. In addition, healthcare professionals may give non-addictive drugs and alternatives to help control the situation.
What Are the Symptoms of Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse often starts as an experiment but soon turns into an addiction. So, individuals must seek professional help if they notice any of the signs of drug abuse mentioned below.
Symptoms visible in oneself and a family member are stated separately for better understanding. This is also important to understand because a recognized journal says that drug abuse prevention in teens starts with parents and the steps they take.
Recognizing Unhealthy Use of Drugs in Yourself
● Getting intense urges to take more drugs to block out a thought or emotion
● Feeling that you need to take drugs regularly or even several times a day
● The dosage of the drug keeps on increasing over time
● Needing more drugs to create the same effect
● Cutting back from socializing, ignoring responsibilities, and not meeting obligations
● Going extreme to get drugs which you usually would not have, like stealing
● Experiencing withdrawal symptoms whenever you try to stop using drugs
Recognizing Unhealthy Use of Drugs in a Loved One
● Frequent missing of school or work or drop in the quality of the result
● Changes in health like sudden weight loss or gain, lack of motivation or energy, red eyes, etc.
● A significant change in behavior like being secretive, not involving friends or family, etc.
● Lack of interest in grooming, looks, or clothing
● A frequent request for money without any explanation
Now that the potent symptoms and major triggers of drug abuse have been discussed, one can easily detect the incidence of the abuse and avoid the same by following the useful tips mentioned above.
However, treatment of drug abuse may be challenging as it involves withdrawal symptoms. So, it is best to consult professionals and approach dual diagnosis programs for holistic health recovery.
What Are the Physical Effects of Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse damages health in some profound ways. It’s not only the person with the addiction who suffers; drug abuse puts a huge strain on families, friends, and society as a whole.
People who abuse drugs often don’t eat properly or get enough exercise, which can lead to poor health and weight changes. Drug abuse can also lead to sleep problems because many drugs (such as stimulants) keep people from getting the rest they need.
Drug abuse also takes a toll on the brain. People who abuse drugs often have trouble paying attention, focusing on tasks, and making decisions. They may also have memory problems and trouble with coordination. Some drugs (such as marijuana) can cause changes in perception, making it hard to judge distance and time. Other drugs (such as hallucinogens) can cause people to see or hear things that aren’t there.
People who abuse drugs also put themselves at risk for accidents and injuries. They may fall, get into car accidents, or injure themselves in other ways while under the influence of drugs. Also, for many people purchasing drugs can be extremely dangerous. People who abuse drugs often have to deal with shady characters in order to get their fix, which can lead to violence and other criminal activity.
Violence, accidents, and assaults are some of the symptoms of drug addiction that are often unrecognized.
Drug abuse also leaves people at risk for disease. People who inject drugs are at risk for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases. People who share needles are also at risk for these diseases. People who abuse drugs are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases.
Even if no needles are involved, drug abuse can still be medically risky. Smoking certain types of drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine can damage the lungs and cause respiratory diseases such as asthma to become much worse. Marijuana/cannabis smoking may be as damaging to the lungs as cigarettes, too. Stimulants such as meth, cocaine, and ADHD drugs can place stress on the heart. In some cases, this can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
Over time, drug abuse can lead to organ damage. For example, heavy drinking over many years can lead to fatty liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and stomach ulcers. People who abuse drugs are also at risk for pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), kidney damage, and cancer of the throat, mouth, and esophagus.
And finally, drug abuse can lead to addiction, a chronic disease that causes compulsions to seek and use drugs despite harmful consequences. Addiction is a relapsing disease, which means that even after people have been through treatment and stopped using drugs for a period of time, they are at risk for relapse.
People who abuse drugs often don’t seek medical help when they need it because they fear judgment from others. This can lead to serious health problems or even death. It’s just another reason why finding out how to stop drug addiction in ourselves or our loved ones is so important. Fortunately, help is available at drug abuse treatment centers.
What are the consequences of teen drug abuse?
There are many negative consequences of teen drug abuse, like declining health matrix, poor judgment, reduced school performance, damaged social life, mental disorders, etc. So, one should avoid it at all costs. More than 86% of 12 to 17 years old have never tried marijuana, and they are doing fine!
Is there a difference between drug abuse and drug addiction?
Drug abuse means taking the drug more often or taking a higher dose of the prescribed drug. However, addiction is the next step in which the overdosing starts to make chemical changes in the brain. In this case, the individual cannot say no to the habit even if it's harming them.
What are the withdrawal symptoms of drug abuse?
The withdrawal effects of drug abuse depend on the substance that an individual partakes. For example, it may vary as per respective individuals and may include chills or shivering, mood changes, change in appetite, nausea, sweating, tremor, etc.
How does drug abuse start?
Three common ways that lead to drug abuse include a family history of drug abuse and addiction, peer pressure to use addictive drugs for recreational purposes, and mental health problems.
What are the phases of drug abuse treatment one must follow?
Though it depends on an individual's level of addiction, a rehab center offers 5 phases of treatment for a successful recovery from drug abuse. It includes detoxification, residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient (OP).
The Edge Treatment Center Will Help You Avoid Drug Abuse
Although drug abuse can certainly be avoided – especially with the easy-to-use tips listed above – sometimes it’s a harmful behavior pattern that people just fall into. While the risk of drug overdose means addiction is often fatal if left untreated, drug and alcohol addiction is also treatable.
At The Edge Treatment Center, we follow a holistic approach to end individual suffering, whether mental, physical, or both. Moreover, you don't have to worry about comfort, as our caring and lively community believes in strengthening bonds, creating new relations, and inducing a speedy recovery. So, for a bright future, contact our team today!