Recovery from addiction starts with constructive steps

On top of suicide awarness month, September is also national recovery month. This means that this month is a great time to talk about something that, statistically, affects 20 percent of students at Cedar Falls High School, as this is the latest statistic pulled from the Center for Disease and Prevention shows: Addiction, mainly substance abuse. 

The most common drugs for student’s are nicotine, alcohol and marijauna. Especially with access to vapes and e-cigs, it has become more common for students ages 14-18 to develop nicotine and THC addictions. 

But why? According to an article, “Drug Use in High School” posted by TheRecoveryVillage on April 1, 2021, not only do addictions affect 20 percent of students, but students often start experimenting with alcohol or illicit drugs due to peer/academic pressure. 

Peer pressure is defined by the APA (American Psychological Association) dictionary as “the influence exerted by a peer group on its individual members to fit in with or conform to the group’s norms and expectations. Peer pressure may have positive socialization value but may also have negative consequences for mental or physical health,” such as when your friends or peers of a similar age pressure you into certain behaviors and activities often resulting in negative and or harmful consequences.

That would be the case here. Most teens report that it was their closest friend who gave them their first cigarette or encouraged them to take a hit from their vape just to try it. 

The second most common reason for teens is academic pressure. Academic pressure is defined as “An experience in which a student is burdened by the demands of time and energy to achieve specific academic goals.” 

This is such a common stressor for students that many students have opted for skipping one or two classes or faking sick days and skipping the entire day. This stress can lead to a number of different addictions for students—for example, smoking or even abusing “upper” pills just to push through the workload. The most common drug students abuse for this purpose is prescription aphemthetemenes like Adderall and other ADHD medications. 

Another well known teenage addiction problem is sadly self harm, also known as self mutilation. This can include cutting oneself, hitting oneself on purpose, scratching oneself till bleeding, starving yourself or binge eating till you purge, excessive exercise, unsafe sex, binge drinking and many more habits. 

Addiction has a number of symptoms, but these are the most common: Inability to control the amount, length or frequency of substance use or to stop substance use interfering in personal responsibilities, relationships and other activities. Also, continued substance use despite physical or mental health problems or other consequences, and cravings for the substance or withdrawal symptoms if the substance use is stopped. 

For those facing addiction, there is already a struggle in admitting when they have a problem, dealing with the fact that they are hurting themselves and maybe even others around them is hard to accept. There is also the guilt and shame of addiction that is linked to the stigma of substance abuse and general addiction. 

So after those with addiction conquer chose to face the problem, what can they do to start on getting sober and to ensure that they stay sober? 

The following are some methods that many recommend. I Am Sober is an app that tracks progress. It is available free on any app store and is a great way to push to stay clean. It tracks years, months, weeks, days and even down to the second. It covers a wide variety of addictions, and those using the app can customize their sober dates and times. It also allows them to change it if they relapse at any time. On top of that, it also allows them to keep a journal of their emotions and their days. 

Another great way to keep sober is to talk to a counselor; either school or personal, a counselor can be a great resource. Personal counseling is harder to get, but if insurance covers it, it is a great way to stay sober and talk through problems without judgement or fear. 

Most importantly, having a support system is the best way to get sober. A support system can be friends, family, teachers, doctors and anyone trusted to look out for one’s best interests. A support system can help one stay away from a substance or habit of choice and provide care if one experiences withdrawal. They help with hospital trips when one has an overdose or hurts oneself. Most importantly they can help talk through problems and maybe even help one find out why one started using and then find a better coping mechanism.

If you are using, you need to find a way to stop, and these are constructive steps for help. You’re not alone here, and you’re not alone in this situation either. If none of the other options presented are available to you, please reach out to the following numbers. 1-800-662-4357 is the SAMHSA National Helpline for substance abuse, and 1-800-448-3000 is the national suicide hotline. Remember, help is always available even in hopeless situations.

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