Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention

Drug and alcohol abuse prevention starts with education.  It’s important to know potential triggers of abuse and what can cause people to make bad decisions, as well as the signs and symptoms of substance abuse.  Initial substance abuse or relapses can be prevented. Often people begin to use substances such as drugs and alcohol to feel good and choose to ignore the risks.  There are many thing that can help us feel good besides drugs and alcohol, including making healthy choices, such as exercise and eating a balanced diet.  So why do some people choose to use drugs and alcohol to make them feel good?  Well the answer may be in the triggers, or the things in life that prompt us to make certain choices.

Triggers of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

For everyone, drug and alcohol abuse prevention starts by understanding an individual’s triggers.    As we are each unique individuals, so are our triggers.  Triggers often vary depending on they type of addiction, a person’s history with the substance and a person’s pattern of use.  Common triggers are sex or intense emotional attachments, certain groups of people, bars, clubs, any place that can make someone have a difficult time coping.

Triggers are different for everyone, so it is important to identify and avoid triggers for successful drug and alcohol abuse prevention.  Coping Mechanisms, discussed below, can help some people learn to avoid and handle situations that involve their triggers.  Relapse prevention should address triggers.  High risk situations for relapse may involve extreme positive or negative emotional states (such as anger, sadness, trauma or stress), physical pain or discomfort, a test of willpower, conflict with those around us, social pressures or strong temptations to use.

Coping Mechanisms For Drug and Alcohol Prevention
Unfortunately drug and alcohol abuse prevention cannot be successful without a strong recovery support system.  Individuals with substance abuse issues need coping mechanisms to help them deal with triggers and cravings.  It can be helpful to speak to someone at the time of a craving and to talk through the situation with someone that can support you.

Other coping mechanisms that can help prevent relapse include: building a meaningful sober life, developing new hobbies that can distract an individual from triggers, setting new goals, getting involved with a new social group, taking care of your life- both physically and emotionally.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention in Teens

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) identifies two key elements for preventing substance abuse in teens – 1) prevention education and 2) early intervention.  According to NIDA, addiction is a developmental disease that begins as a child becomes a teen.  As teens are more prone to risky behavior, caused by prefrontal development in the brain, they are more vulnerable to substance abuse.  That is why drug and alcohol abuse prevention is a key element of teen education in many school programs around the country. Education and early intervention at the first warning signs of a substance abuse problem can make a significant difference in stopping the disease of addiction.

You can find some helpful resources for handling drug and alcohol abuse prevention, especially in teens on our resources page.