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How To Prevent Substance Use Disorder

How To Prevent Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorder, commonly referred to as substance addiction, is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug and/or alcohol seeking and use with no regard for the devastating effects they can have on an individual’s physical, mental, and social well-being, as well as on their relationships, work, and finances.

Substance use disorders are a major health concern in the US and a leading cause of preventable death in the country. Fortunately, substance use disorder is preventable, and there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing this condition. These include:

1. Understanding the Risk Factors

The first step in preventing substance use disorder is to understand the risks associated with drug and alcohol use. Numerous factors can contribute to the development of substance use disorder, including genetics, environmental factors, and social influences.

Understanding these risk factors can help you make informed choices and take the necessary steps to reduce the likelihood of developing substance use disorder.

2. Avoiding peer pressure

Peer pressure is a common cause of substance use disorder, particularly among young people. It is key to surround yourself with people who share your values and support your decisions. Avoid situations where drugs or alcohol are present, and stay away from people who pressure you to use them.

3. Practicing Responsible Medication Use

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States, and it is important to practice responsible medication use. This may include only taking medications as prescribed, properly disposing of unused medications, and never sharing prescription drugs with others.

4. Seeking Help for Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD are some of the leading causes of substance use disorder. As such, it is vital to seek help from a qualified mental health professional if you are struggling with any mental health issues. Professional treatment can help promote mental wellness and significantly reduce the likelihood of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drug or alcohol use, in a bid to cope with symptoms.

5. Practicing Self-Care

Stress, boredom, and fatigue are all major risk factors for substance use disorder. To reduce the risk of developing a problem, it is crucial to take steps to reduce stress levels and practice self-care activities such as getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in enjoyable hobbies. This can provide an outlet for stress, helping you stay away from drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with difficult emotions and circumstances.

6. Education

Education is another valuable tool for preventing substance use disorder. Parents, schools, and healthcare professionals can help ensure the public, especially the youth, are aware of the risks associated with drug and alcohol use. This includes teaching them about the dangers of addiction, how to resist peer pressure, and where to seek help if they or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse.

7. Establishing a Strong Social Support System

When you’re going through a rough patch in life, it is important to have a strong support system of family and friends you can turn to. Having people you can rely on for emotional and psychological support will ensure you have a safe space to turn to in times of need. Essentially, this reduces the likelihood of turning to substance use to cope with challenging emotions and circumstances.

The Takeaway

Substance use disorder is a complex mental illness with far-reaching consequences. And despite being a preventable condition, it is still a major public health concern and one of the leading causes of accidental and preventable death across the nation.

The above steps offer practical strategies for reducing the risk of developing a substance use disorder. If you or someone close to you is already struggling with the effects of substance abuse, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

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James T. Leathem, DO

Dr. James Leathem is a board-certified anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He was born and raised in Connecticut and graduated from Florida Southern College with a bachelor of science in marketing management with minors in sociology and communications. He obtained his medical degree from Midwestern University’s Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in anesthesiology at Michigan State University and its affiliated McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.

In 2015, after residency, Dr. Leathem returned to Arizona to practice anesthesiology. He joined Red Mountain Anesthesiologists and worked primarily at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, performing 100% of his own cases. He was made partner in the group after demonstrating 3 years of anesthesia excellence and administering over 4,000 anesthetics. In 2019, a corporate change occurred and an opportunity presented itself in which he was able to transition out of the hospital to surgery center and clinic-based anesthesia.

Dr. Leathem realizes that the only constant in life is change. In 2020, amidst the global pandemic, his career took a different direction. This change led him to collaborate with Dr. Wong and Dr. Sharma and they founded Advanced Wellness and Pain (AWAP). Their mission is to provide a variety of state-of-the-art procedural services that improve patients’ quality of life and overall physical and mental well-being.

Dr. Leathem believes that we are all a work in progress and that each day, one should strive to make positive changes in their life. He is here to help empower each patient on their journey to be their best self and live their best life. When you are being cared for by Dr. Leathem, you can be assured that he will give you his undivided attention and time.

Gregory Wong, MD

Dr. Wong is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of both the American Society of Anesthesiology and the Arizona Society of Anesthesiology. He did his undergraduate training at the University of California at Davis, Davis, California; doctorate training at The University of Health Sciences of the Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, IL; and his post-doctoral training at the Integrated Program at the University of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ. He has spent his whole 24-year career practicing in Arizona.

Dr. Wong grew up in the Bay Area of California. He is married and is raising three daughters. At the early age of 12 years old, he knew he wanted to become a physician. His love of the human spirit, intrigue of human physiology, and compassion for human suffering led him to the path of anesthesiology and pain medicine.

Today, Dr. Wong realizes patients need a holistic biophysical-mental-spiritual care. This philosophy has brought him to the studies of regenerative medicine and infusion therapies. He has firsthandily witnessed the overwhelming success of these therapies for treating chronic pain and depression and the return of patients of “life-functionality.”

“There has never been a time more important than now to advocate for our patients in these difficult times. We owe it to our patients to offer these state-of-the-art treatment modalities that weren’t available before.”

Deepak Sharma, MD, MBA

Dr. Sharma is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He completed three degrees at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA: a Bachelor in Finance, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Medicine. He went on to complete residency at the Mount Sinai Morningside-West Hospital System in New York, NY and post-graduate fellowship at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA.

Dr. Sharma is committed to treating his patients as a whole with a comprehensive biophysical-mental-spiritual approach. He is a lifelong learner and is constantly researching cutting-edge therapies backed by scientific studies. He has taken a particular interest in regenerative and infusion therapies after witnessing firsthand their significant benefits on those suffering from chronic pain and depression. In his free time, Dr. Sharma enjoys spending time with his family and friends, hiking, traveling, reading, and meditation.

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