Renaissance Ranch

Any tips on how to prevent alcohol and substance abuse from getting worse?

Oct 11, 2022

We all know the horror stories of drug and alcohol abuse – lost employment, sickness, fractured relationships, even death. But substance abuse stories don’t always have to end tragically, especially if you can deal with the abuse early and directly. Substance abuse professionals weighed in on what they feel are critical steps you should take if you think you might have an addiction.
Lauren Debiec

Lauren Debiec

Lauren Debiec., M.A., Addictions Therapist, The Ohana Luxury Drug Rehab.

Recognize the Signs and Reach Out for Professional Help

I think it’s important to know the signs of alcohol abuse or misuse. These include things like drinking more than you intended to, being unable to cut down or reduce alcohol use, and having problems in your relationships or other areas of life due to alcohol use. Once you recognize the signs that there could be a problem, then it’s important to honestly evaluate your use and reach out to a substance abuse professional for help.

Recognize Your “Risk Factors” and Take Steps to Minimize Them

What situations or emotions are more likely to make you use? If you tend to drink too much at bars, ask your friends to meet up with you at coffee shops instead. If you smoke too much weed because your job is stressful, look for ways to make work more manageable, or find support from your co-workers.

Tell your friends and family that you’re trying to manage your alcohol or substance use, and ask for their support. Tell them your goals: do you want to quit entirely, reduce your use, or keep it as-is? The more people you’ve got in your corner, the easier it is to stay on track.

Try to drink or use substances in ways that minimize your risk of harm. Ask a friend to stay with you when you use to make sure you don’t overdose or have a bad trip. Get a designated driver, rideshare app, or similar plan so you don’t drive under the influence. Look for harm reduction services in your town like needle exchange centers.

Kara Nassour

Kara Nassour

Kara Nassour, LPC, NCC, from Shaded Bough Counseling.

Jordyn Mastrodomenico

Jordyn Mastrodomenico

Jordyn Mastrodomenico, Clinical Director at ChoicePoint.

4 Tips To Prevent Alcohol Substance Abuse From Getting Worse

The first step toward recovery is to abstain from drinking and abusing drugs. It is important to acknowledge the problem to deal with it swiftly and smoothly.

1. Follow the schedule
If you are already going through the process of detoxification, you should make sure that you follow it. Go to your appointments with your doctor and therapist. Meet your sponsor regularly and take your medications on time. To make things easier, set up small memos for yourself on your phone.

2. Cut off problematic company
Your friends who go to clubs and parties are the people that you need to avoid if you want to feel better. Inform them that you will not indulge in such activities. If they are truly your friends, they will understand. If not, you will find better friends who choose healthy coping mechanisms to deal with difficult situations.

3. Think about your loved ones
Whenever you get the urge to drink or smoke, think about your family and your friends. They are also going through a tough time for you. It is not easy to see someone you care about fall into bad habits. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting for them, too.

4. Learn to control your emotions
Always choose healthier options when you’re on the verge of reeling back. Watch motivational videos on youtube or some binge-worthy tv shows on Netflix. Your trauma is valid but drinking alcohol or doing drugs is never a solution. Addiction makes matters seem worse than they already are. Remind yourself of that when you feel hopeless, sad, angry, or even happy.

Run From Your Triggers, Make Changes, Meet with a Counselor

1. Be realistic. Admit you have a problem. Relationships are troubled, your job is failing, you’ve received a DUI and you’re having money issues. Do you drink or use substances alone? Are you blacking out? You have a serious problem that should be addressed.

2. Make an appointment with a Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC). Discuss your substance abuse and the LAC will help you to decipher why you abuse substances.

3. Consider medication assistance. The LAC can refer you to a nurse practitioner or physician to prescribe medication-assisted therapy. Naltrexone, Baclofen, Antabuse, and Vivitrol all work to interrupt the brain’s cravings. Ketamine now works very effectively for substance abuse, as well.

4. Exercise and remain hydrated. These practices can elevate endorphins and help to minimize cravings.

5. Identify your triggers. If something or someone triggers your need for a substance, run!

6. Make changes. If you drink with friends, change your friends. If you’re driving home and see a liquor store or you’re in your dealer’s neighborhood, change direction.

7. Get help. Intensive outpatient or 28-day-treatment centers are suitable for treatment. The individual must however be ready to commit and follow the program.

8. 12-Step programs and sponsorship work well for many. Family members can embark on Al-Anon for additional support.

Cynthia McKay

Cynthia McKay

Cynthia McKay, JD, MA, LAC, Clinical Psychotherapist and Licensed Addiction Counselor, Director of Therapeutic Services at Ballen Medical, Centennial, Colorado.

David Seitz

David Seitz

David Seitz, MD, at Ascendant Detox.

Get Involved In a Treatment & Recovery Program

One way to prevent substance abuse from getting worse is to get involved in treatment and recovery programs. These programs are designed to help people overcome addiction and live healthy, drug-free lives. They focus on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of addiction, providing support and guidance, and teaching new skills and coping strategies. Treatment can involve counseling, support groups, medication, and other interventions.

Another way to prevent substance abuse from getting worse is to avoid situations that trigger cravings or lead to temptation. This could mean getting rid of any drugs or alcohol in the home, avoiding places where drugs or alcohol are used, and not hanging out with people who abuse substances – even if they’re family or friends. Your environment plays a significant role in recovery, so it’s important to make sure you are surrounding yourself with people and things that support your sobriety.

It’s also important to take care of yourself physically and mentally. When you’re healthy inside and out, you’re better able to resist temptation and are less likely to resort to substance abuse when faced with stress or other challenges. Some ways to take care of yourself include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. You can also try finding new hobbies or activities that make you happy, such as hiking, painting, or volunteering.

Struggling with substance abuse is tough, but it’s not impossible to overcome. With the right support and approach, you can get better and lead a healthy, drug-free life. Fortunately, many resources are available to help you on your journey to recovery. So as long as you’re willing to put in the work, anything is possible.

Seek Professional Help, Have a Support System, Avoid Trigger Situations

Seek professional help
This is the best tip to prevent alcohol and substance abuse from worsening. Professional help can provide you with the tools and support you need to overcome your addiction. A professional will work with you to create a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Outside of traditional therapy, adding additional services such as support groups can be helpful.

It’s also important to be open to higher levels of care if suggested by your mental health professional. Some people may need more than traditional counseling and it may be recommended to participate in a higher level of care like an intensive outpatient program or residential treatment.

Have a support system
A solid support system can make all the difference when trying to recover from alcohol or substance abuse. Not only will they provide you with emotional support, but they can also help you stay accountable and on track with your recovery. Choose your support system carefully, and make sure it’s composed of people who won’t enable your addiction.

Avoid trigger situations
Another important tip on how to prevent alcohol and substance abuse from getting worse is to avoid trigger situations. If you know that certain people, places, or things will trigger your craving for drugs or alcohol, do your best to stay away from them.

It’s also important to have a plan in place for how you will handle triggers if you can’t avoid them altogether. Have a friend or family member you can call, emergency numbers saved on your phone, or a safe place to go if you feel like you’re about to relapse.

Learn healthy coping mechanisms
One of the most important things you can do to prevent your alcohol or substance abuse from getting worse is to learn healthy coping mechanisms. This means finding other ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions instead of turning to alcohol or drugs. Some healthy coping mechanisms include exercise, journaling, meditation, and spending time in nature.

Jenna Jarrold

Jenna Jarrold

Jenna Jarrold, Licensed Mental Health Therapist at Drug Helpline.

Azmaira Maker

Azmaira Maker

Azmaira Maker, Ph.D., Founding Director of Aspiring Families.

Switch To a Neutral Activity

The best way to phase out an old habit is not to concentrate on its elimination but to simply introduce a new habit instead. The best way to prevent the worsening of alcohol and substance abuse is to slowly divert the time and resources one spends on these habits toward another activity or ritual instead.

At first, this habit doesn’t even need to be a highly effective one such as exercise or meditation. It can be something as simple and relatively neutral as giving in to gaming, surfing social media, or binge-watching. As long as this new habit keeps a more detrimental one at bay, it should be considered an alternative. Once this change of habit is in place, one can initiate the next shift to create further impact.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors' statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.