Substance abuse comes in many forms. This includes underage drinking, alcohol dependency, non-medical use of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and illicit drug use. Millions of Americans suffer from one, or multiple, of those listed above. That’s why it’s so important to step back and observe National Substance Abuse Prevention Month every October. It could save a life.
October is a time to highlight the vital role of substance abuse prevention. Strategies targeting the root of the problem are essential to curb this misuse and help people lead healthier lives. There are multiple ways this can be done. You just have to know where to start.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, it’s never too late to find support. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is available 24/7 at 1-800-662-4357. This is a free, confidential tool for individuals who are facing mental or substance abuse disorders, or know someone who is.
Any intervention is better than none at all and can reduce the negative consequences of addiction before they further develop. Consider dialing the number above or taking the steps below when communicating your concerns to a loved one.
Raise the subject respectfully: Your goal is to have a productive conversation in which you state your concerns and understand the person’s perception of the situation. Come prepared with all your thoughts or observances of the behavior that concerns you and be ready to listen when they respond. Start the conversation when the person is sober — and make sure you are not under the influence either.
Be fluent in your feelings: While you talk, be sure to express time and time again how much you care for that person. Emphasize that you wanted to have this conversation because you’re concerned for their well-being and value their life.
Don’t try to speculate: Exploring motives or judging the individual might make them feel attacked and defensive. If the person states there is not a problem, your goal is not to convince them otherwise. But rather, let them know that you believe there is a problem.
Whether they acknowledge it or not, it’s vital for you to take the next step of contacting a trusted mental health professional. They will take it from there.
Don’t expect a dramatic shift: After the conversation and involving professional help, do not expect a full 180* turn in their thinking or behavior. There is no quick-fix to substance abuse. Prepare yourself for the long-haul.
Supporting someone through recovery can be exhausting and emotionally draining. Be resilient and know when to reach out for support.