Drug addiction begins with a person’s increased use of drugs and is more likely to happen when started at a young age. In the case of adolescents, social influences such as peer pressure make it harder for teenagers to say no or quit. “Gateway” drugs like cannabis and alcohol may lead to harder drug use like cocaine, hallucinogens, and methamphetamines because of how normalized taking substances become to the user. While it might be impossible to prevent everyone from using drugs, there are things we can all do to help ourselves and loved ones to avoid substance abuse.

Use Prescription Medication with Caution

Prescription drugs are intended to relieve the user of extreme pain, often caused by a surgery or traumatic incident. The euphoria and numbness that users can feel from these drugs, however, can sometimes cause an addiction. For these patients, treatment is more internal because it is psychologically based. For some, prescription drug abuse can be the gateway to other recreational drugs as the user becomes accustomed to living in an altered state. Following the directions on your prescription medication and not taking more than the allotted amount per day is the easiest way to prevent abuse. If you share a living space with other people, especially teenagers, make sure to properly store your medication when not in use. Protect yourself and your loved ones from the temptations of drug abuse by properly using and storing medication as it is prescribed.

Develop Healthy Habits

The best way to prevent drug abuse is to eliminate societal pressures and reevaluate who you surround yourself with. Young people especially want to feel included, and peer pressure is the biggest reason why teenagers begin using drugs. If your child, or even yourself, is hanging out with individuals who are known for partaking in suspicious activity, then you might want to reevaluate where your child is spending their time. Volunteering, working, or participating in clubs or organizations are more beneficial uses of your time that facilitate social interaction while keeping you busy. Establishing a healthy routine for yourself or a loved one will provide structure and reduce the amount of dead time where one is most likely to turn to drugs.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Support systems are crucial when trying to prevent or overcome an addiction. Whether it be your family, friends, or a medical professional, having someone who can provide guidance or listen to you when you are struggling and might use drugs is crucial. Life is stressful and full of triggers that could cause anyone to seek the euphoria that drugs provide. If you are dissatisfied with the current level of support that you are receiving from family and friends, talk to them about it or join a support group as a substitute.

Most importantly, if you find yourself already with an addiction or gaining one, seek medical help. Your doctor can help find a treatment most appropriate for your lifestyle and can recommend rehabilitation institutions or specialized professionals to keep the progress going. The road to recovery is possible, but it is not easy. Remember why you are trying to get or remain sober, and do not be afraid to ask for help.