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How to Stop Drug Abuse

Drug addiction can negatively impact a person’s life in a variety of ways. It can destroy their health, finances, career, and relationships. Unfortunately, those living with an addiction may not be willing to admit they have a problem, or they could believe it is impossible to overcome their dependency; however, it is never too late to make a recovery, as there are various resources and tactics people can turn to restore their health and take back control of their life. If you have an addiction, keep reading for informative advice on how to stop drug abuse.

How to Stop Drug Abuse: Admit You Have a Problem

There are, unfortunately, various types of drugs you can become dependent on, such as depressants, hallucinogens, stimulants, dissociatives, opioids, inhalants, and cannabis. While many of these drugs are illegal, it is also possible to become addicted to prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Demerol, Ritalin, and amphetamines, to name only a few.

Regardless of the types of drugs you use, they can affect your everyday life. It might, therefore, be easier to identify you have a problem by monitoring your drug usage and considering its role in your life. For example, you may have become reliant on a drug to manage your rising stress levels or to cope with past trauma. Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards an effective recovery.

Signs of drug addiction can include but are not limited to:

  • An inability to stop taking a drug
  • Continuing to take a drug after recovering from a health issue
  • Continually thinking about a drug
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Stealing or borrowing money for a drug

Enter a Drug Addiction Treatment Program

You don’t need to struggle alone with drug addiction. Professional help is available to ensure you make a full and long-lasting recovery. For example, there are alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs to choose from, and the experienced experts will know how to stop drug abuse and can help patients to regain control of their lives. Treatment can include:

The right program will not only help you to take control of your addiction, but it will provide exceptional aftercare to ensure you remain on the right path.

Build a Sober Network

If your social life depended on the consumption of drugs, you might need to form relationships with sober friends once you leave a treatment program. Making new friends could help to support your recovery and prevent unwanted relapse. If you’re unsure where to meet new people, consider signing up to a local class, volunteering, joining a church group, or attending community events.

There are also likely to be people in your life who are positive influences. If possible, you should lean on them for support, encouragement, and guidance for a sustainable recovery. However, if you’re afraid to turn to your loved ones, you could benefit from attending family therapy or relationship counseling.

Once treatment has ended, it is possible any negative emotions that led to your drug abuse could resurface. Rather than turning to a drug to numb any painful feelings, you must find healthy ways to cope. For example, you could banish worry, anxiety, shame, or frustration by exercising. Also, going for a relaxing walk, playing with a pet, pampering yourself, or focusing on a hobby.

Why is adolescence a critical time for preventing drug addiction?

As noted previously, early use of drugs increases a person’s chances of becoming addicted. Remember, drugs change the brain—and this can lead to addiction and other serious problems. So, preventing early use of drugs or alcohol may go a long way in reducing these risks.

Risk of drug use increases greatly during times of transition. For an adult, a divorce or loss of a job may increase the risk of drug use. For a teenager, risky times include moving, family divorce, or changing schools.35 When children advance from elementary through middle school, they face new and challenging social, family, and academic situations. Often during this period, children are exposed to substances such as cigarettes and alcohol for the first time. When they enter high school, teens may encounter greater availability of drugs, drug use by older teens, and social activities where drugs are used. When individuals leave high school and live more independently, either in college or as an employed adult, they may find themselves exposed to drug use while separated from the protective structure provided by family and school.

A certain amount of risk-taking is a normal part of adolescent development. The desire to try new things and become more independent is healthy, but it may also increase teens’ tendencies to experiment with drugs. The parts of the brain that control judgment and decision-making do not fully develop until people are in their early or mid-20s. This limits a teen’s ability to accurately assess the risks of drug experimentation and makes young people more vulnerable to peer pressure.36

Because the brain is still developing, using drugs at this age has more potential to disrupt brain function in areas critical to motivation, memory, learning, judgment, and behavior control.12

Can research-based programs prevent drug addiction in youth?

Yes. The term research-based or evidence-based means that these programs have been designed based on current scientific evidence, thoroughly tested, and shown to produce positive results. Scientists have developed a broad range of programs that positively alter the balance between risk and protective factors for drug use in families, schools, and communities. Studies have shown that research-based programs, such as described in NIDA’s Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood: A Research-Based Guide and Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders, can significantly reduce early use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.37 Also, while many social and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people perceive drug use as harmful, they often reduce their level of use.38

How do research-based prevention programs work?

National drug use surveys indicate some children are using drugs by age 12 or 13. Prevention is the best strategy.

These prevention programs work to boost protective factors and eliminate or reduce risk factors for drug use. The programs are designed for various ages and can be used in individual or group settings, such as the school and home. There are three types of programs:

  • Universal programs address risk and protective factors common to all children in a given setting, such as a school or community.
  • Selective programs are for groups of children and teens who have specific factors that put them at increased risk of drug use.
  • Indicated programs are designed for youth who have already started using drugs.

Young Brains Under Study

Using cutting-edge imaging technology, scientists from the NIDA’s Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study will look at how childhood experiences, including use of any drugs, interact with each other and with a child’s changing biology to affect brain development and social, behavioral, academic, health, and other outcomes. As the only study of its kind, the ABCD study will yield critical insights into the foundational aspects of adolescence that shape a person’s future.

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