Breaking Free: Embracing the Buzz of a Substance-Free Life!
12 November 2023
Healthy Pilipinas

We're diving into a crucial topic today—making choices that keep you thriving and enjoying life to  the fullest. We all know that being a teenager comes with a ton of highs and lows, but there's  something important we need to chat about: the impact of substance abuse. Let's talk honestly,  openly, and positively about how you can steer clear of the lows and keep those highs shining  bright. 

First things first, it's important to know what we're talking about - substance abuse. It isn't just  about breaking rules; it's about understanding its potential impact on your life, long term.

The numbers are in from the 2019 Drug Survey Report, and here's the scoop: On average, most people out there who decided to try out substances took their first dive at 22 years old. Now, we get it—being curious and influenced by friends can be a big deal. In fact, about 57.4% said it was from peer influence, and 23.7% were just plain old curious

Peer pressure, family problems, and stress are some of the leading causes of drug use among youth. Life's journey is filled with twists and turns, and sometimes, you might find yourself facing the tricky challenge of peer pressure. But guess what? You've got the power to navigate these situations like a pro. Developing strong skills in dealing with peer pressure is your secret weapon. 

First up, rock-solid self-confidence is your key. Believe in yourself and your values, so when the pressure rises, you stand firm in your choices. Next, master the art of assertiveness. It's like having a shield that lets you express your thoughts and feelings respectfully but firmly. Don't forget your trusty communication skills; this is your way of letting others know where you stand. Developing a strong sense of self-awareness is like having a compass, guiding you towards decisions aligned with your true self. Finally, the ability to say 'no' with grace and conviction is your ultimate weapon against unwanted influences. 

A study by USAID RenewHealth found that many youth are unaware of available rehabilitation programs and counseling services. They may also be afraid of seeking help due to fear of incarceration or violence. The government has launched a campaign called BIDA (Buhay Ingatan, Droga Ayawan) to raise awareness about drug prevention and treatment. The campaign emphasizes the importance of early intervention and support for youth who are struggling with drug use.

We totally get the curiosity bug, but  here's the deal: you don't need substances to light up the party. Real connections and memorable  moments happen when you're present, genuine, and fully yourself.

Not to mention, substance abuse can be a tempting way to cope with stress or problems in your  life. But it's important to remember that drugs and alcohol only make things worse in the long run. 

Using drugs and alcohol can lead to a number of problems, including: 

Physical Health Risks

  • Brain Development: Adolescence is a critical period for brain development, and substance abuse can impair cognitive functions, memory, and decision-making skills.
  • Weakened Immune System: Substance abuse weakens the immune system, making teens more susceptible to illnesses.
  • Impaired Respiratory Function: Smoking or vaping substances can harm lung health, leading to respiratory issues.

Mental Health Impact:

  • Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders: Substance abuse is linked to an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and even psychosis.
  • Negative Impact on Academic Performance: Substance use can interfere with concentration, memory, and motivation, affecting academic performance.

Social Consequences:

  • Strained Relationships: Substance abuse can strain relationships with family and friends, as trust is eroded, and communication breaks down.
  • Isolation: Teens engaged in substance abuse may withdraw from social activities, leading to isolation and a sense of loneliness.

Legal Consequences:

  • Legal Troubles: Substance abuse can lead to involvement in illegal activities, resulting in legal consequences that can have long-lasting effects on a teen's future.

Increased Risky Behaviors:

  • Engagement in Risky Activities: Substance abuse is often associated with engaging in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex or driving under the influence, leading to accidents and injuries.

Long-Term Consequences:

  • Addiction: Teens are more vulnerable to developing addiction, which can have severe and lifelong consequences.
  • Impact on Future Opportunities: Substance abuse can limit educational and career opportunities, hindering a teen's future success.

It's super important for teens to understand the possible dangers of substance abuse and reach out for support from trusted adults, friends, or professionals. By having open conversations and learning about the risks, teens can feel empowered to make choices that put their well-being and future success first.

But there is good news. It is possible to recover from substance abuse. There are many resources  available to help people get clean and stay sober. 

Taking the step to quit substance abuse is a huge decision, and it's great that you're thinking about it. It's not always easy, but it's definitely possible. Here are some tips on how to get started and how to avoid some common pitfalls:

How to Get Started with Quitting Substance Abuse

  1. Acknowledge the Impact: Take some time to think about how substance abuse is affecting your life. How is it impacting your schoolwork, relationships, and overall well-being? Recognizing the negative consequences can give you the motivation to make a change.
  2. Set Realistic Goals: Don't try to go from 0 to 100 overnight. Set small, achievable goals for yourself. For instance, you could start by reducing your usage gradually or committing to substance-free weekends.
  3. Identify Your Triggers: What situations or emotions make you crave substances? Once you know your triggers, you can develop strategies to avoid or manage them.
  4. Find Healthy Alternatives: Replace substance use with healthy coping mechanisms like exercise, creative activities, or spending time with supportive friends and family.
  5. Seek Support: Don't hesitate to reach out for help. Talk to a trusted adult, join a support group, or seek professional counseling. There are many people who understand your challenges and can offer guidance.

Things to Avoid When Quitting Substance Abuse

  1. Quitting all at once: Quitting so suddenly can be shocking and increase the risk of relapse. It's generally better to gradually reduce your substance use under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
  2. Temptation's Way: Avoid places or situations where you're likely to encounter substances. It's easier to stay on track when you're not constantly tempted.
  3. Self-Blame: Relapses are a common part of the recovery process. Instead of beating yourself up, focus on learning from the experience and recommitting to your goals.
  4. Giving Up: Quitting substance abuse takes time, effort, and resilience. Don't give up on yourself just because you face setbacks. Keep moving forward, and you will eventually reach your goals.

If you're struggling with substance abuse, you're not alone. It's a tough thing to deal with, but there  are things you can do to help yourself. One important thing is to learn some healthy coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and other difficult emotions without turning to drugs, nicotine, or alcohol. 

Healthy coping mechanisms are positive and constructive ways to manage stress, anxiety, and other difficult emotions. They can help you stay on track with your recovery and avoid relapse. Here are some examples of healthy coping mechanisms:

  • Talk to someone you trust: Talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor can help you process your emotions and get support.
  • Engage in physical activity: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Get creative: Express yourself through art, music, writing, or other creative outlets.
  • Develop a healthy sleep routine: Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating nutritious foods will give you the energy and nutrients you need to cope with stress and cravings.
  • Be patient: It takes time to learn new coping mechanisms and to break the habit of turning  to substances. Don't get discouraged if you don't see results immediately. 
  •  Ask for help: If you're struggling, don't be afraid to ask for help from a trusted adult or from  a professional.  

Unhealthy coping mechanisms are negative and destructive ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and other difficult emotions. They can lead to relapse and other problems. Here are some examples of unhealthy coping mechanisms:

  • Using substances: This is obviously a no-no. Using substances to cope with stress or cravings will only make things worse in the long run.
  • Self-isolation: Avoiding friends, family, and other social activities can make you feel more isolated and alone.
  • Negative self-talk: Putting yourself down and focusing on your negative thoughts can make you feel worse and make it harder to stay on track with your recovery.
  • Unhealthy eating habits: Skipping meals, eating too much junk food, or using food as a reward can worsen your physical and emotional health.

It's important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. The key is to find healthy coping mechanisms that work for you and to stick with them. If you're struggling to find healthy coping mechanisms on your own, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to support you in your recovery.

Choosing to live substance-free is like unlocking a superpower that lets you take charge of your  life. It's your own declaration of independence, a promise to yourself to make choices that vibe  with your values and well-being. Imagine it as your personal superhero origin story, where you're  the hero rocking the cape of self-control and making decisions that light up your path.

What are you waiting for? Be part of the kakilusang Kakaibang high: bisyo-free lifestyle for a  #HealthyPilipinas! 

If you need to seek professional help and need authorities to talk to, these helplines may help you: DOH  Substance Use Helpline 1550, DOH Quitline 1558 for Smoking, NCMH Crisis hotline 1553, and you  may also contact and reach out to barangays and primary care facilities.  

We are here for you.