life-skills training programs

How Can Life Skills Training Programs Can Help Prevent Drug Addiction?

Drug and alcohol addiction among teens and adolescents is one of the major problems affecting communities and countries around the world. The drug problem has been growing since the sixties and has now come to a head with the invention and promulgation of life-threatening products such as fentanyl, which are many times as addictive (and potentially lethal) as heroin.

However, keeping youngsters away from drugs is no easy task. Communities, government agencies, and educational institutions have been trying to do so for decades, with varying degrees of success. While the overall rates of drug intake and alcohol consumption have gone down over the years in most parts of the country, individual communities are still plagued by the problem of substance abuse, particularly among the youth.

Reasons for Drug Intake and Addiction

In order to effectively curb the phenomenon of drug addiction among the youth, educators and authorities must first understand the reasons for substance abuse, including alcoholism, opioid addiction, and marijuana usage etc. Some of the major reasons why large numbers of teenagers and young adults often feel compelled to use drugs are driven primarily by the fact that they lack the proper life skill training:

  • Peer Pressure

Human beings are tribal by nature and we all want to feel a sense of belonging with our families, friends, and communities. This desire for belonging is especially strong during the teenage years, when kids are yet to fully understand and accept their own individual identities. At this time, they are especially vulnerable to the influence of the peer group, and the fear of rejection can be debilitating.

Many teenagers, therefore, end up taking drugs just because their friends tell them to. They don’t want to feel left out and alone, and in their minds, the only alternative is to succumb to the demands of substance abuse. Drinking and doing drugs is common among certain groups of young adults, and embers of such groups may feel that they cannot say no to drugs without losing their friends.

  • Stress

The teenage years can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. This is because teenagers have to deal with academic pressure, the onslaught of hormones, social responsibilities, love and heartbreak, and the expectations of parents and teachers, all at the same time. This is particularly the case once they enter high-school and are told to start thinking about their career.

All of this can often feel like too much, especially for children who had, until then, lived a relatively stable and sheltered life. When stress and anxiety is overwhelming, the appeal of substance abuse is immense.

Alcohol can help you get rid of your inhibitions for a time and do as you please, while opioids can be used to dull the anxiety and feel a sense of peace for a little while. Many young people succumb to such addictions just to temporarily escape the pain of growing up, and the expectations levied upon them by society.

  • Media Representation

Movies, TV shows, and music can often depict substance abuse as a sign of status and even ‘coolness’. And there are nothing teenagers want more than to be perceived as being ‘cool’ and interesting. Alcohol companies understand this, and promote their product accordingly, a tactic that was also used by tobacco manufacturers a few decades ago.

Growing up under the influence of pop culture, children often internalize these messages (if only on a subconscious level). They are later drawn to the mystique and allure of substance abuse as they reach teenage because for their entire lives they had been receiving the subliminal message from a variety of media outlets, that drinking and doing drugs is ‘cool’. After years of subtle indoctrination via pop culture, this perception can be hard to break.

The Role of Life Skills Training

Life skills training, delivered by trained personnel through well-designed drug-prevention programs, can help youngsters break this self-destructive cycle of substance abuse. Life-skills training helps adolescents understand the dangers of substance abuse and its long-term consequences. Moreover, it also helps them understand how to handle situations effectively and safely without succumbing to the allure of drugs and alcohol.

Some core elements of an effective life skills training program are:

  • Drug Resistance: During a life-skills training program, youngsters are taught how to avoid any social pressure or internal desire for alcohol or drug intake. They are taught how to safely extricate themselves from situations wherein they might be compelled to take drugs or other restricted substances.
  • Decision Making: Under such programs, adolescents are also trained to critically evaluate a situation and make effective decisions in a thoughtful and independent manner, without being influenced by external factors such as the opinions of friends and misleading media representation.
  • Self Management: Life skills training programs help children learn how to manage their own emotions, both positive and negative. They are taught how to deal with stress, anxiety, loneliness, and social rejection in a healthy and productive manner, without resorting to self-destructive behavior of any kind.

In Conclusion

A well-designed and high-quality life skills training program can help teenagers and adolescents avoid the pitfalls of substance abuse and avoid addiction in the long run. Schools, communities, and local governments should come together to ensure that all the children of the area receive this essential training from a young age.

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5 Drug Prevention Tips for Young Adults

Early exposure to drugs increases the chances of a young adult of getting addicted to substance abuse. Keep in mind, drugs change the brain and this can prompt addiction and other severe health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 700,000 Americans died from overdosing on a drug from 1999 to 2017. Moreover, over 21 million Americans suffer from at least one type of addiction, yet only 10 percent of this population receives the necessary treatment. So, before it gets too late, it’s important we thought of drug prevention.

Studies have demonstrated that research-based projects, as described in NIDA’s Principles of Substance Abuse Prevention for Early Childhood: A Research-Based Guide study and Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders study, can essentially decrease addiction to tobacco, liquor, and other drugs in the early years of an individual’s life. Also, while numerous social factors influence drug use patterns when young adults see drug use as destructive, they frequently reduce their degree of usage.

How can Schools and Communities Help Young Adults Fight Drug Addiction?

Here’s how the school authorities can help the students avoid drug use.

  1. Help then Learn How to Handle Everyday Pressure

    The failure to manage ordinary life pressures is one of the significant reasons that drive individuals to use drugs and liquor. For some individuals, drugs and liquor usage works as an escape route to get away from the harsh realities of life. Planning ahead and confiding in people who can help you or just provide a patient ear can be used as a drug prevention approach.

School authorities must, therefore, arrange for special classes that aim at increasing communication between the students as well as the teachers to help them understand that there is someone who can help them handle the pressure they are unable to cope with.

  1. Help Young Adults to Deal with Peer Pressure

    The most compelling driving factor for young adults to start using drugs is because that their friends put pressure on them to try substance to fit in with the group. Everyone wants to be accepted and young adults end up doing things they ordinarily wouldn’t do, just to fit in. In these cases, teaching these adolescents some core life skills and the power of saying “no” will work well as a drug prevention method. Many drug prevention programs have been developed on these lines that help adolescents understand that all the things done under peer pressure is not right and sometimes they have to back off even if it means not be included in the popular group.

  2. Break the Boredom

    Most smokers say that they smoke not because they’re addicted to cigarettes but because they have nothing to do. If this is true for cigarettes, no argument can say that it’s not true for drugs.

    Involvement in creative and challenging tasks can combat the need to rely on drugs and substance for amusement. Therefore, school authorities and communities together and separately can come up with activities to keep the young adults engaged from indulging in drugs.

Sweat it out. Try to find some time for at least 30 minutes of exercising. As per an examination at the Mayo Clinic, exercise decreases stress, reduces depression and tension, improves sleep, and uplifts the mood. Those new to exercise shouldn’t feel scared. The research recommends a basic energetic walk is sufficient to receive these rewards and act on drug prevention.

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet

    Following a good, balanced eating routine and practicing every day is another method for averting drugs and alcohol addiction. Being healthy and dynamic makes it simpler for individuals to manage life stresses. This, thus, lessens the compulsion to depend on drugs to manage pressure. A sound eating routine and normal exercise every day promote the release of happy hormones in the mind and body.

  2. Help Young Adults Seek Help for Mental Illnesses (if any)

    Mental health is still a taboo among many and is still considered as one being mad. Given that there are no physical symptoms of mental health conditions like fever or a rash, people often do not even understand that they are sick and need medical help.

Mental health conditions such as anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorders go hand in hand with substance abuse frequently. It is more likely for teenagers to develop addiction due to mental health issues and the responsibility of guiding them to seek medical help falls on the school authorities and the community as a whole.

Final Thoughts

While these are only a few ideas that can help ensure drug prevention, it’s significant for an individual who has effectively built up a dependence to look for drug and alcohol addiction recovery treatment. Numerous dependable drug prevention programs may come out to be massively valuable in such cases. All one needs to do is to embrace it wholeheartedly.

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