October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. While last month we celebrated National Recovery Month—a time to honor the importance of addiction recovery—this one we work to help prevent addiction in the first place. This campaign is an opportunity to educate young people about substance use.
A study from the Journal of Psychological Science found that youth who drink or use drugs before age 15 are two to three times more likely to have an addiction by 32. People aged 12 to 20 account for 11% of the country’s monthly alcohol consumption. This shows us that preventative measures should start early.
When people have an addiction, they learn to cope with stress by drinking or using. This ultimately increases stress by creating a troubling cycle where the substance becomes a crutch.
Teaching kids healthy ways to cope with strong difficult emotions is one mode of prevention. Particular interventions for children who have been exposed to chronic substance use at home—or to other types of trauma—have proven effective at curbing later use.
Just as people in recovery are encouraged to engage in meaningful activities to replace the substance, children should be encouraged to explore their hobbies and interests. Learning what they like and dislike will help them build a stronger identity; this may prevent them from using substances as a replacement for a sense of self.
Many substance abuse prevention initiatives highlight the importance of parents, teachers, and community organizations working together. The goal is to build a strong and consistent support system.
These interventions shouldn’t peter out once a kid enters young adulthood. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that youth ages 18-25 have some of the highest rates of substance misuse. People at this age who drink or use chronically are setting the stage for later abuse.
I started drinking at age 16. I binge drank from the start, and by 20 I was drinking over 15 drinks every night. Barring a couple months when I tried to get sober—or some weeks here and there when I tried to only drink on weekends—this was the case every night until I finally got sober for good. When I did so, I was a few months from turning 29.
When I was drinking, I often did other drugs. This all means that my later teen years and the majority of my 20’s were spent abusing substances—and I was lucky to get sober pretty early. For many people, patterns they begin as teens or young adults follow them into their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond.
TruHealing Centers is committed to not only providing quality treatment for people struggling with addiction, but also to preventing as many people as possible from becoming addicted.
We have partnered with Baltimore County Public Schools to provide drug and alcohol counseling at school through one of our local centers, Foundations Recovery Center. Staff at our centers provide training for middle and high school students. Our show Straight Talk is an educational resource about addiction and recovery for kids, parents, teachers, and other community members.
We are helping to build informed and empowered youth, so that less people have to struggle.
If you are worried about your substance use or mental health, there is hope. TruHealing Centers across the country offer high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders. Our staff will help you understand the root causes of your addiction and build healthy coping skills. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.