Are you affected by substance abuse? October is a busy month with Halloween and the weather change however we do not want to forget to focus on preventing substance abuse and its devastating effects. Substance abuse affects the lives of young people as well as people of all ages. It includes underage drinking, non-medical use of prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Alcohol is a global problem which results in 2.5 million deaths each year. According to the World Health Organization it is the world’s third largest risk factor for premature death and disability. Alcohol and drugs can cause physical and social problems not just for the individual but for the family, friends and co-workers of the substance abuser. For teens and adults substance abuse could lead to risky behaviors, addiction, bullying and death.
According to the Census Bureau 2012 an estimated 10 million people aged 12 to 20 report drinking alcohol per month. This is more people than those who live in the state of Michigan. There are approximately 23 million Americans who are classified illicit drug users with marijuana and non-medical use of prescription medications being the most common types of drugs used. A United Nations (2012) report reveals that heroin, cocaine and other drugs continue to kill around 200,000 people a year. Families are shattered and misery is inflicted on thousands of others with insecurity and the spread of HIV. This brings us to the question, what can be done to prevent substance abuse?
Substance abuse prevention begins with the family, schools and the work place making a commitment to taking action against drug abuse. The family should engage in programs that target the whole family. The program should offer skills-building for parents on monitoring and supervision of children’s activities, communication and setting age appropriate limits. The schools should engage the students in prevention activities by trained teachers through evidence-based drug education programs based on life skills that offer personal, social, resistance and communication skills. In addition, information about both short-term and long term effects of drugs should be provided to students. The work place also has a responsibility. Employers and employees together should develop and implement policies against substance abuse in the workplace. The policies should be designed to promote the health of employees by preventing substance abuse and assisting those with drug dependence problems.
In his 2012 proclamation for National Substance Abuse Awareness Month, President Obama relates that we all must play a role in substance abuse prevention. Preventing substance abuse before it starts can increase the chance of a longer, healthier, happier and more productive life.