October is recognized as Substance Abuse Prevention Month -– a time where we acknowledge and support those who struggle with their fight against drug abuse, while remembering those who lost their battle with the deadly disease. This month was established to encourage open conversation in the community about how we as a country can reduce America’s substance abuse problem through prevention.
What Is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse occurs when an individual has a pattern of excessively using a drug which results in significant problems or distress in their lives, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Their drug abuse may lead to them missing work or school, driving while under the influence, legal problems and/or deterioration of friendships and family relationships.
Drug abuse can begin at any age and the substance can be legal (i.e: alcohol, prescription medication, nicotine, marijuana) or illegal (i.e: heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine). Alcohol abuse is the most common legal drug abused in the United States with young Americans between the ages of 12 to 20 accounting for 11% of the national monthly alcohol consumption.
How Can You Identify If A Loved One Is Abusing Substances
While there are different symptoms of addiction associated with different substances, there are common behaviors, including:
- Drinking/using larger amounts for longer periods of time
- Inability to cut back or control use of drugs/alcohol despite a desire to stop
- Spending majority of their time getting, using and/or recovering from drugs or alcohol
- Usage interfering with their ability to complete their responsibilities at work/school
- Quitting or decreasing time spent doing activities they once enjoyed
- Putting themselves in danger (e.i: high risk behavior, gambling, driving under the influence)
- Continuing to use despite it causing physical harm or psychological issues
- Developing a tolerance for the substance and begin increasing their use
- Exhibiting withdrawal symptoms when not using or must substitute another substance to cope
- Lying to or avoiding friends and family to drink/use
How Do You Prevent Substance Abuse?
Studies have shown that the earlier in life a person uses an illicit drug, the more likely they are to develop an addiction. Early intervention into a user’s behavior can prevent their progression into abuse and decrease the likelihood of long term consequences.
Prevention begins with a conversation with your loved one – bringing awareness to their struggle in a strong, supportive manner is key to showing you’re there for them. Have an open and honest conversation about their usage, here are some tips to prepare for the discussion:
- Identify an appropriate time and place
- Ideally would be a private space with limited distractions such as home or on a walk
- Express your concern and be direct
- Ask them how they’re feeling and describe why you’re concerned
- “I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk? If not me, who can you talk to?”
- “I noticed you’ve been off lately – is there anything I can help you with or want to talk about?”
- “I really love you and want you to know I care about you. You haven’t been yourself lately, can we talk about it?”’
- Actively listen without interrupting or judgment
- Let them know you’re there to help and that substance abuse is treatable. You may need to assist them with finding a treatment service.
- Recovery doesn’t happen overnight–continue to reach out and support them in their recovery journey
What Can I Do If Someone I Love has A Drug Problem?
Aquila Recovery Clinic understands that substance abuse is a psychological and physiological disease that needs personalized treatment and care. Based on your addiction, support system and recovery progress, there are multiple substance abuse treatment programs available.
Do you or somebody you care about require substance abuse treatment? If so, Aquila Recovery Clinic is committed to ensuring that every program participant succeeds. We hope to hear from you as soon as possible to get you on the path to recovery. Contact us online or over the phone at 202-618-9125.