The nature of addiction is one that has plagued medical experts for decades. Experts now understand that it is not a moral failing, but a disease that can be treated. But debates have raged about whether it is a disease that can be prevented. Many prevention programs have suffered in finding an appropriate approach and have been either defunded or no longer operate.
However, a major blow was dealt with prevention skeptics recently when President Obama announced that he and the nation were going to do their part in helping to prevent the disease of addiction. We are happy to hear this, as we’re major believers in prevention.
That’s why we’re going to help you understand why the president’s investment in prevention is worth it. It can also help you understand how to keep your children free from drugs.
How Prevention Is Being Increased
Obama’s statement came after he announced the way he plans on boosting the presence of drug prevention in the country. For example, he plans on providing $11 million dollars to states to help increase their medication-assisted treatment effectiveness. This money is going to focus especially on treating opiate and opioid addiction and used primarily to help withdrawal symptoms.
Other methods he is planning on utilizing include:
- Increasing the number of patients a doctor can treat with buprenorphine (an opiate withdrawal medicine)
- Giving $11 million to help states boost their use of naloxone (reverse the effects of opioids)
- Creating a Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Take Force
We’re not interested in dwelling on the political reasons for this decision and how it might impact the current economy. However, it is worth noting that the president (and other drug experts) are convinced that addiction is preventable. But is this true?
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The Difficulties Of Drug Prevention
We believe that addiction is fully possible, but it has to be approached properly. Many prevention programs focus on trying to scare people away from drug use by using over-the-top claims or scare tactics that are a little too hard for most people to believe. This is especially true of children and preteens (the primary focus of most prevention efforts): while some very young children will be afraid, others will simply laugh it off.
That’s why anti-drug television ads that portrayed drug pushers as literal snakes have become infamous Internet memes: they go too far. They are too silly. However, it’s also true that simply listing the health problems caused by drugs may be too abstract or oblique for many people to understand. Being told that heroin use will increase your risk of heart disease is scary, but not threatening enough.
So where does that leave us? We’ve dismissed scare tactics as being too simplistic and unbelievable to be effective. And yet, we also believe that dryly stating drug statistics and side effects is too underwhelming. How in the world can you prevent addiction? By understanding where it originates and working against those impulses, you can help your child avoid the dangers of addiction.
The Influences On Addiction
There are a variety of reasons that people turn to drugs and alcohol. While occasional use may not be a problem, that can quickly turn to abuse and addiction due to the following problems. Dealing with these situations is a major challenge, but it can go a long way towards preventing addiction:
- Genetics – If people in your family have struggled with drug use in the past, your child may run into the same patterns. Set a good example by avoiding drug and alcohol use: children learn by watching your behavior and you can help keep them clean.
- Trauma – Childhood can be a traumatic place and your child may turn to the drug to alleviate trauma symptoms. So if they’ve experienced a traumatic incident (such as a fight, sexual, verbal, or physical abuse, neglect, natural disasters, or a car accident), immediately get them psychological help.
- Peer pressure – Everyone wants to fit in with their friends and your children may feel the pull of drug use from their friends. Teaching child independence of opinion and self-respect goes a long way towards combating peer pressure.
- Depression and anxiety – Psychological problems impact a wide range of children and their immature minds don’t know how to process these emotions. As a result, they often turn to drugs to self-medicate. Offer your children a support system and counseling, if necessary.
The prevention programs prescribed by the president are planning on helping you and your child identify these problems and to find healthy ways to implement them in their life. However, as a parent, we believe you are the most important step in prevention and that you can keep your child clean and healthy by showing them the love, respect, and support they deserve.
Preventing Your Own Addiction
What, though, if you are worried about preventing your own addiction. As an adult, you have access to a wide range of addictive substances, and might even occasionally use it. That’s not a major problem (though you should quit), but if you’re worried that addiction is threatening to impact your life, it’s worth taking a moment to understand why you turn to substances.
Are you trying to deal with stress in your life or do you suffer from emotional problems? Be honest here: we know it’s hard, but it’s crucial. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol is a problem at any age and you need to help nip that problem in the bud by following a few simple steps:
- Cope with stress in a healthy way, such as meditating, exercising, or keeping a journal
- Meet with friends and loved ones in a healthy and sober environment
- Visit a counselor or psychiatrist to express your emotional problems>
- Find something you care deeply about and focus your life on it (such as religion or art)
- Discover what makes you happy and maximize it in your life
- Talk to friends or family members who have recovered from addiction
- Visit addiction coping groups to build an understanding support group
With these simple steps, you can reverse your abuse and stop it from turning into an addiction. There’s no better way to prevent addiction than respecting yourself and surrounding yourself with people who love and respect you. The lure of drugs will be virtually non-existent at that point.
Living A Drug-Free Life
By following these steps, you can gain the drug-free life that you deserve. For more information, please contact us at Vertava Health. We can help you prevent addiction in yourself or a loved one.