Our society has reached a critical point in the fight against substance abuse. Drugs, which have historically permeated the societal niches of impoverished and crime-ridden communities, have now made their way into the everyday lives of adolescents. The ease of access is overwhelming, the peer pressure is suffocating, and the unchecked mental disorders of this country continue to push drug abuse to the edge of a remarkably steep precipice.
Questions of safety continue to arise as correlations are made between drug abuse and severe, underlying mental issues, many of which have the proven ability to combust with catastrophic consequences. The question, then, is not how to get the drugs out of the communities, but how to rid the drugs from our lives. Access and desire will always find a will or a way to keep drugs alive. So, prevention is about education. Here are ways of preventing drug abuse.
Even with the emergence of self-love literature and positive social media influence, there is still an incessant need to fit in. This is especially true for adolescents who are navigating the tumultuous and ever-changing terrain of high school. Peer pressure guilts people into adhering to rituals or practices that they would not otherwise choose to participate in. Acceptance, even when it is achieved through the sacrifice of morals or character, is a powerful motivator. Just remember, the right friends do not pressure one another to do anything. They are accepting one another as they are, no matter what.
Mental illness and drug abuse are two sides of the same coin. In fact, their relationship is so deeply intertwined that it is getting harder to know which affliction is driving which. What we are left with is a vicious cycle, wherein drugs are used to quell the painful effects of illnesses like anxiety and depression.
The agonizing irony is that drugs only amplify those effects over time. Drugs are abused to ease the pain of mental illness, but they also make the problem much worse. If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, please seek the attention of a medical professional. Therapy and lifestyle changes are the only proven methods of recuperation.
Recreational drug use has developed somewhat of a reputation as a band-aid for the everyday stresses of life. People escape into the “relief” of drugs as a way to blunt the pressures of work and home life. Though not a mental illness, stress relief and drug abuse share a bond with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The truth is, drugs have the power to temporarily trick users into feelings of relief, all the while raring up to spit the problem back with greater and more profound consequences. The best forms of stress relief are habits and behaviors that support a healthy lifestyle. Exercising, reading, and meditation are all great stress relievers.
Ways to say no to drugs
Sometimes walking away from a situation is not enough. Substance abuse and peer pressure can exist at home, and this can be tortuous for family members that are predisposed to developing an addiction. The smartest tool of prevention, in this case, is education. Learning the truth about drugs can deter participation and, in some cases, help loved ones break their habit. Whenever possible, it is smarter to leave a dangerous situation and stand firm in the decision to abstain from drugs.
The message: abstinence
The obvious lesson in all of this is abstinence. Drugs do not cure mental illness, they do not relieve stress, and they do not justify popularity. They are dangerous traps that can ignite serious problems of addiction and depression. If you are a parent or community leader, try and think of ways to communicate with your kids. Prevention starts with the right kind of message. The best course of action is abstinence, and this can be an uphill battle for many teens and parents who are trying to protect them.
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