Alvarez: How to say no to drugs

DRUG addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug-taking despite the damage it brought a person holistically. Illegal drugs cause fundamental changes in the brain and the person cannot even recognize the change, even her or his values.

According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the most commonly abused drugs are methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as "shabu," marijuana, and inhalants. Although, club drugs like ecstasy is also prevalent now.

Anyone can be a drug user – and each drug user has reasons why they entered into drugs. Some are due to curiosity or boredom, especially to teenagers who seek some thrill in life. They would want to know how it is to feel using it. Others would claim that it’s because of emotional pressures, like getting even with unfair parents, an act of rebellion or due to feelings of depression. Peer pressure is also common, growing kids would like to feel that they belong in a group and if they don’t take drugs then they are not recognized. Wanting to appear tough and confident is also a reason, as well as the feeling that it is alright to take drugs because everyone is doing it.

So, what are the best ways to stay away from drugs?

Abstinence. You should not ever take drugs, because once you try it, you may want to take it again and again to feel the temporary pleasure brought by the increasing dopamine in your brains. You will be looking for that pleasure that substituted to your healthy pleasurable activities before.

Care for yourself. Life is full of stress and there are times that you forgot to give time for yourself. You then take drugs because you want more energy, or you want to forget some tiring events causing you loneliness for a relief. But that is not bravely facing your diversities in life, problems are real and you need to deal with it without using drugs as a solution. Use of illegal drugs adds up to your problem and it is going to damage you entirely. Live a balanced life, prioritizing yourself before other things. Eat healthy, don’t smoke and exercise regularly.

Use effective coping skills. Some use drugs to numb their negative, hurting feelings. There is truly nothing wrong with feeling bad – human beings are vulnerable to depression and isolation. Learn to talk to someone, it is not easy to trust somebody but you have to learn to express your pent-up emotions to the right person. Consult your parents, siblings, or trusted friends. You may also do journal writing if you are not comfortable with sharing your feelings. Or busy yourself to healthy and productive activities like sports.

Choose friends to get along with. Spending time with the right people is an important rule to say no to drugs. It is true that bad relationships and friendships can trigger you to illegal drug use.

Socializing is necessary to your growth, there is no doubt to that, but people can mislead us to the wrong path and you might get trapped in drug addiction because you trust too much. You must learn how to handle peer pressure – avoid invitations or parties where certain drugs and even alcohol will be around. It will be better if you do mind activities with friends, like yoga, and meditation.

Seek information. Knowing what are the illegal drugs and their harmful effects is to protect yourself from indulging to abused drugs. If you don’t have the correct knowledge about it, you may try some drugs because you think it will only do you good, like increasing your energy and focus. You will not know that it will kill your brain cells and will cause too many complications, even psychosis.

Seek help. If you feel like you are likely to be influenced by using illegal drugs due to the above stated reasons,then do not ever be ashamed to seek help. You may try to consult your school guidance counselors or may try to find substance abuse coaches that will help you in your struggle to say no to drugs.

Or you may try to call the Ateneo de Davao (ADDU) – Central Against Illegal Drugs- Drug Hotline and Referral helpline, the first in the Philippines in substance abuse coaching which is open 24/7.

The target clients include drug and substance dependents, surrenderers/reformists, and their significant others (SO).

Through its services, clients are expected to experience therapeutic communication, gain helpful response to queries, professional assistance and counseling, and encourage empowerment and self-reliance towards access to facilities and appropriate referrals.

Tawag na (call now) and say no to drugs!