Do you have a friend or loved one whom you think might have a substance abuse issue in his or her life? Are you worried but you don’t know how to help or even where to begin? Do you know something is not quite right or healthy with the person that you love but you can’t put words with the problem?
If you answered “yes,” to any of these questions, then there is help. National Prevention Week, an annual substance abuse awareness day, is devoted to increasing understanding about substance abuse and the actions that people all around the world can take to help support those struggling with drug and mental health issues.
Learn what you and your family members can do to help spread the knowledge and hopefully save some lives. Addiction is a national epidemic and seems to have no intention of slowing down. Our best option is prevention through awareness campaigns across the country.
Be Brave! Say No!
If you are a young person, you may be under intense pressure to do drugs and get drunk. This is where being brave and saying “No” really makes a difference. It may not be the popular choice always. But there are ways you can frame your response that will earn you the respect of many of your peers. When someone asks you to do drugs with them, you can say, “Thanks, but that’s not my thing.” If they press you, you can ask them if they’d rather do something else: “Hey, let’s go see that new movie instead. I’ve heard it’s really funny. We’ll have a good time.” Sometimes you can’t redirect the behaviors of others, but you can be a good friend and respect yourself by trying.
Get Support From the Community
There is a huge community to support those who want to be drug-free, including therapists, local community groups, religious organizations, teachers, friends and your family. Find the community or communities that work for you, where you feel most loved and supported, and rely on those people to help you navigate the difficult moments of saying no to drugs.
Do the Things You Love
If you are struggling with the temptation of doing drugs or participating in substance abuse, then ask your community to hold you accountable to doing some of the things you really love — reading, making art or music, watching funny TV shows, traveling. By investing in the things you love, you will be able to distract yourself from engaging in behaviors that are harmful to you. You’ll need professional support if you are addicted, so know when to reach out. In the meantime, we kind to yourself. Do the things that make you happy and fulfilled.
Do you think a friend or loved one may be struggling with substance abuse? Does the person retreat for long periods of time without telling you what he or she is doing? Does the person show up to events drunk or dazed? Do you have a friend who insists on drinking and driving? That’s the time to speak up. Ask the person to let you help. Seek help on behalf of the person.
Finally, call your local substance abuse hotline or community centers. There are professionals who are ready to help you and/or your loved one find a way out of the destructive world of substance abuse. Make the call right now to save a life.
Keep these helpful tips in mind as you prepare for National Prevention Week, and remember that preventing substance abuse, supporting those with co-occurring mental health issues, and simply pursuing a healthy lifestyle free from drugs and goal-inhibiting behaviors truly takes work. It also takes a community, and that’s why it is so important for you to be part of the community that partners with those who are struggling. Keep these key prevention tips in mind both for yourself — as substance abuse can become an issue for anyone — and for the people in your life who are struggling. Thank you so much for your participation and being courageous enough to pursue life and health for yourself and for others.