Most people know that addiction, can be overcome with treatment. But like many other diseases, it is often a winding road to get there. So, what are the steps to a healthier, drug-free life?
Seek treatment. The first step to recovery is to decide to seek treatment. It’s hard for people to recognize or admit they have a problem, even when they are putting their lives – or the lives of others – at risk. It doesn’t help that the brain’s decision-making center is impaired when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Treatment may mean medications, behavioral counseling, or a combination of the two.
Learn new habits. Relapse (or returning to drug use) is common with addiction and is an expected part of treatment. Returning to the people, places, or things associated with former drug use can actually trigger relapse—before the addicted person is even aware of it. Behavioral therapy can teach the person in recovery to avoid these triggers and learn new coping skills so they can make better decisions.
Take it one step at a time. Recovery takes time. Treatment works best when it is long-term, at least 90 days in most cases. And because people treated for drug addiction are vulnerable to relapse even after they’ve been off drugs for a long while, most treatment professionals would say that someone with a past drug or alcohol problem is “in recovery” for a lifetime.
Find treatment. If you are interested in finding drug abuse treatment for yourself or a friend or family member, look up facilities near you by using the Substance Abuse Facility Treatment Locator, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.
Addiction is defined as “A chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use—despite serious, even devastating consequences—and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain.” When a person is addicted to a drug, finding and using that drug becomes the most important thing—more important than family, friends, school, sports, or money.
Not everyone will become addicted after they smoke a cigarette, drink alcohol, or take another drug, but even experimenting can raise your risk.
Have you heard about all these celebrities going in and out of rehab? That’s because addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease, like heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes that can be managed with treatment. And even though a person may beat their addiction with treatment, he or she is always at risk of relapse.
If you think you or a friend may be addicted to a substance, talk to a family member, medical professional, or other trusted adult to get help. You can also check out the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Treatment Facility Locator for treatment services near you.
To learn more about addiction, check out NIDA’s publication, Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.
The death of Whitney Houston left America wondering about the emotional well-being of her daughter Bobbi Kristina after such a sudden, serious trauma. Traumatic events can affect your mental health and lead to serious problems later in life. This holds true even if the trauma happens at an early age—as young as 18 months old!
Traumatic experiences can include a number of things, such as the death of a loved one, a car crash, or a natural disaster like a hurricane. Trauma also can result from experiences that take place over a long time, like having a parent with a drug addiction, or experiencing bullying or family violence. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, so it can be hard to know who may need professional help to cope.
The good news is that—with help from families, teachers, counselors, and the community—young people can get well.
National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
On National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day—May 9, 2012—communities and organizations across the country will help people understand how important it is to take care of children’s mental health. People will share the message that, with the help of caring adults, young people can recover from traumatic experiences and lead full and productive lives.
How Trauma Affects the Brain
Studies on how young people respond to stress show structural changes in the brain that, for some, can lead to problems like depression, anxiety, aggression, acting out, and drug abuse.
Hear Real Stories On May 9, 2012, at 7:30 p.m. eastern time, you can watch a Webcast at samhsa.gov/children about young people who have successfully recovered from a traumatic event. They will be accompanied by their “Hero of Hope”—the person who has supported them through their challenges.
You can participate by commenting on Facebook and tweeting during the Webcast using the hashtag #HeroesofHope.
Help Raise Awareness
A youth group in North Carolina is planning a “flash mob” for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Last year, we suggested drawing your emotions on paper to increase awareness of your feelings and how they affect your behavior. What are some other ideas to help raise awareness about the importance of your mental health?
Today, communities and organizations across the country will help people understand how important it is to take care of children’s mental health. This year’s focus is on helping children recover from traumatic experiences. Learn more about the observance and the effects of trauma on the brain by reading our previous post, Mental Health and Young People.
Attend an Awareness Day Event
More than 1,000 communities in the United States are celebrating National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day by hosting interactive events for children and adults. Here is just a sampling of the activities planned:
Delaware. Delaware’s B.E.S.T. for Young Children and Their Families will host its 8th annual “Get the Scoop on Mental Health.” Participants will learn about children’s mental health and get a free scoop of Italian ice at participating Rita’s Water Ice locations.
Michigan. American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan has planned several activities that include poetry and storytelling “open mic,” healthy cooking demonstrations, green smoothies, face painting, an art table with beading, bouncy house, Native musical chairs, and a play area for younger kids.
Texas. Hand in Hand is partnering with a Fort Worth high school program in which at-risk high school art students and local college graduates develop murals for walls that have been targets for graffiti. The mural theme is “Play Matters 4 Children’s Mental Health.”
Virginia. The Virginia Art Therapy Association is hosting "Heroes of Hope" at the Children's Museum of Richmond. The event will include a Q&A panel discussion for parents and caregivers, art making, and the “Heroes of Hope” exhibit of art by children and teens ages 4–18.
Find a National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event near you!
Watch Heroes of Hope
If you are unable to attend an event in person, you can participate by watching a tribute program about children and teens who have recovered from traumatic experiences, as well as the parents and caregivers—their Heroes of Hope—who helped them get well. Live performances by youth from around the country will also honor these Heroes of Hope.
Watch the live webcast from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. eastern time. You can participate by commenting on Facebook and tweeting during the webcast using the hashtag #HeroesofHope.
Figuring out what to do when a friend or someone you know is having trouble with drugs or alcohol can be tricky. You want to help, but you might not know how to bring it up. Here are some tips.
Listen. If he talks to you, just be there for him. Admitting a problem—never mind talking to someone about it—is really hard. Listen to what he has to say about his drug use without making judgments.
Encourage. Suggest that she talk to an adult she trusts—a coach or teacher, a school counselor, a relative, or a doctor.
Share. Maybe your friend doesn’t see his or her drug use as a bad thing. But plenty of real scientific information about what drugs can do to a person is on the NIDA Web site. Once your friend understands how drugs affect the brain, body, and life, it might open their eyes.
Inform. When he’s ready to make a change and seek treatment, help him find a doctor, therapist, support group, or treatment program. You can use SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator or call 1–800–662–HELP.
Support. Don’t give up on your friend, even if she isn’t ready to get help. Keep reaching out. Encourage them to get treatment, and support them along the way—that’s the best way to help someone you care about who is struggling with addiction.
This week is the first annual National Prevention Week (NPW)—a celebration of what people and organizations do in their communities to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and to promote mental and emotional well-being. We want to celebrate every teen that makes healthy choices when it comes to drug abuse and mental health.
How Are You Taking Action?
Most teens don’t use illegal drugs or drink alcohol. Instead, they focus on their futures, school, hobbies, family, sports, clubs, etc. You can participate in National Prevention Week by spreading the word that most teens make healthy choices and by encouraging others to think twice before taking risks with their health and safety.
Each day during the week, National Prevention Week focuses on a different theme:
Monday: Prevention of Underage Drinking
Tuesday: Prevention of Prescription Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Use
Wednesday: Prevention of Alcohol Abuse
Thursday: Suicide Prevention
Friday: Promotion of Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Well-Being
You can set a positive example for your friends and family by posting a message on Facebook about your commitment to a healthy lifestyle, focusing on the daily theme. Or, tweet about the daily theme using the hashtag #NPW2012. It only takes one person to make a difference!
Take the Prevention Pledge on Facebook
Along with setting a good example, you can do other things to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and promote mental health in your own life and the lives of those you love. You could talk with someone who’s having a difficult time, or encourage your friends to eat healthy and exercise. Read and take NPW’s Prevention Pledge on Facebook to learn more about ways you can help.
Share NPW’s Official PSA Developed by Teens
In February 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration challenged teens to create an original 15- or 30-second public service announcement (PSA) that showed how young people are working to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and promote mental health in their communities. The winning PSA, "I Am More Than Meets the Eye,” was made by a group of young adults and teenagers from Richmond, California. Inspire more teens to help their communities by sharing this PSA on your social media pages:
What will you do to celebrate National Prevention Week? Is your school or community participating? We’d like to hear about it in your comments.
The average price for a pack of cigarettes (PDF, 57.91 KB) nationwide is around $5.50—more or less depending on the State you live in. The spending calculator lets you enter the number of packs smoked per week as well as the price per pack. Then, it calculates the monthly and yearly cost.
Let’s say you smoke one pack a week at the average price of $5.50 per pack—that’s $22 a month and $264 a year. If you smoke two packs a week, the numbers double—$44 a month and more than $500 a year! I’m sure you can think of better things to do with $500....
According to NIDA research, nicotine in cigarettes is addictive, and most people smoke tobacco regularly because they are addicted to nicotine. Once people get addicted, they need more and more of the drug to get the same effect. That means smoking leads to more smoking, which leads to more money for the cigarette companies and less for you—not to mention the hit on your health.
When you quit, treat yourself to a reward, and pay for it with the money you used to spend on cigarettes. To talk to someone about quitting, call the national toll-free number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
Sometimes, the best entertainment takes you to an alternate world and helps you forget about your stresses for a while. Other TV shows and movies succeed because they are so true to life that you feel like the characters could be living next door.
Each year, the Voice Awards honor films and television shows that accurately portray behavioral health issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, trauma, suicide, and other mental health problems.
You can read full descriptions of the movies and TV shows—such as “Glee” and “Parenthood”—that were honored in 2012.
Accuracy Is Essential
Why is this recognition important? Many people (teens and kids especially) watch what’s onscreen and believe it to be accurate. This can lead to problems, like if a teen watches a party movie and starts to believe that everyone their age is getting wasted on Friday nights.
When shows reinforce myths about drug abuse or mental health problems, they can hurt already vulnerable people in our society. Examples include implying that all people with mental illness are dangerous, or that people who have drug problems are “bad”—inviting our judgment instead of our compassion.
So the Voice Awards honor TV shows and movies that work to tell the real story. For instance, “Parenthood” portrayed the complications caused by alcoholism, as well as how the disease affects the entire family. In the episode Forced Family Fun, the main character’s ex-husband talks to his therapist in rehab about how his addiction harmed his relationship with his children and how much he regrets his past his actions.
If you’ve seen a TV or film production released after April 15, 2012 that you think offers a respectful and accurate portrayal of people with substance use or mental health disorders, you can nominate it for a 2013 Voice Award. Let us know in comments which movies or shows you think deserve recognition!
- Children whose parents abuse alcohol and drugs are more likely to have behavioral problems, which increases the risk of trying alcohol or drugs. They are also exposed to more opportunities to try these substances.
- Plus, children of parents who abuse drugs may inherit a genetic predisposition (or greater likelihood) for addiction—having an “addictive personality,” so to speak.
Mean Girls…or Violent Girls? A recent national survey (the National Survey on Drug Use and Health) found that more than one-quarter (26.7%) of girls age 12 to 17 reported engaging in some kind of violent behavior in the last year. Whaaat? There’s more…in this age group:
- 18.6% got into a serious fight at school or work in the past 12 months.
- 14.1% participated in a group-against-group fight.
- 5.7% attacked others with the intent to hurt them seriously.
So what does this have to do with drugs? The study also found that violence and drug use are linked: girls who engaged in violent behaviors were two to three times more likely to have binged on alcohol or used marijuana or other illicit drugs in the past month. Girls engaging in violent behavior were also more likely to report missing school and getting bad grades. To read more about the study, visit SAMHSA News.
If you were the producer of a crime show on TV, and your police officer character was a chain smoker, how would you write the scene where he chases a criminal down the street? A chain smoker would probably be winded, because of less lung room. So you’d show him panting and out of breath. As noted in NIDA’s Drugs: Shatter the Myths booklet, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use are often depicted in popular entertainment and media. And because TV and movies can influence what people think and believe, the Entertainment Industries Council, Inc., the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and FX have teamed up to host the 15th Annual PRISM Awards. This nationally televised awards show recognizes actors, movies, music, media, and TV shows that “accurately depict and bring attention to substance abuse and mental health issues, including prevention, treatment, and recovery.”
The PRISM Awards recognize people in the creative world who “tell it like it is,” showing the reality of important health issues and increasing awareness. Winners are chosen based on entertainment value, accessibility of the message about substance abuse or mental health issues, and scientific accuracy.
So who’s doing a good job of depicting substance abuse and mental health issues? This year’s PRISM nominees include the movie Iron Man 2 and the prime-time television series, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Drop Dead Diva, The Vampire Diaries, and Degrassi: The Next Generation. Nominees also include reality shows and documentaries such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, Intervention, MTV’s If you Really Knew Me, and VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
So, mark your calendar: the 15th Annual PRISM Awards will take place on April 28, 2011. To read more about the PRISM awards and to see a complete list of this year’s nominees, visit http://www.prismawards.com.
Sometimes we make jokes about our mental health, but serious mental illness is a real problem among young people in this country. Did you know that an estimated 4.5 to 6.3 million youth in the United States face mental health challenges? These might be about substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, compulsive behavior, and other mental health issues, including suicide. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of them do NOT receive the mental health services they need (like counseling and medicine) because it costs too much or they don’t know where to find help.
We need to fix this problem. First of all, studies show that students who need and receive mental health services are more likely to stay in school. This is important because about 11% of high school youth with emotional challenges drop out before finishing high school and are 1.6 times more likely to be unemployed than high school graduates who are not enrolled in college. Secondly, mental health problems can affect many other areas of life–especially social relationships.
This is why SBB is writing about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, being celebrated May 3. Communities all over the country will be holding events to show how important it is for kids to have good mental health, just like having good physical health. The many activities include programs using the theme “My Feelings are a Work of Art.” Think about that—so how would you draw the way you feel? It’s good to be aware of your feelings and how they affect your behavior and the decisions you make.
Find out how you can get involved and help by checking out http://www.samhsa.gov/children/preparing_for_awarenessday.asp.
As always, keep yourself healthy. If you or a friend are having a hard time coping with everyday life, ask an adult you trust for help. Catching problems early can avoid worse ones later on.