Unlike drug abuse, finding or offering help in cases of substance misuse is quite challenging. However, the problem happens right in front of us. Have you ever wondered why this is the case?
The Legal Line Challenge
Differentiating the terms is helpful. Although it’s not the legal definition, ‘drug abuse’ is usually understood to refer to the use of illegal substances or the inappropriate use of controlled substances, e.g. use of cough syrup in a bid to get high. Substance misuse, on the other hand, often refers to the excessive use of legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco.
Now, because ‘drugs’ are illegal or controlled, their use raises the alarm around those close to the user at first notice. They start discouraging users at the earliest opportunity, mainly on the basis of the law, more than potential personal harm.
With substance misuse, however, the alarm does not go off early. Usually, the user is lost among other moderate consumers and may not be ‘found out’ until it is too late. Even when the first signs are spotted, they are likely to be shrugged off as overthinking or misjudgment based on isolated incidents.
How to Help
Substance misusers often begin feeling the negative impacts by themselves. Hangovers after binge drinking or the guilt brought on by the urge to light one cigarette right after another really trouble them. At this point, it is their will to stop or reduce intake.
This is a good point for help to come in. First, do not vilify them. Instead, seek to indulge them in other activities that satisfy their dopamine addiction. Exercise has been known to help. It not only makes them feel better about themselves, but it also reduces their desire for substance uptake. Be careful to introduce exercise in small doses, though, or they may run away.
Once they begin getting off the hook, you can start sharing the harmful effects of substance abuse. Since they are already feeling better, they will appreciate the importance of keeping off.