It’s Substance Abuse Prevention Month
Substance Abuse Prevention Month is recognized in October, and Canandaigua Emergency Squad is committed to helping those affected by addiction lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
Far too many families have been impacted by addiction and the drug overdose epidemic. In 2020 alone, 93,000 people died from accidental overdose in the United States. In our own community, CES responded to 151 overdoses last year, and this year we’ve responded to 131 overdose calls so far. The impact of this crisis echoes across our community in empty chairs in classrooms and around kitchen tables.
Studies show that the earlier an individual starts smoking, drinking, or using other drugs, the greater the likelihood of developing addiction. Nine out of 10 people who abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs began using these substances before they were 18 years old. People who began using addictive substances before age 15 are nearly seven times more likely to develop a substance-abuse problem than those who delay first use until age 21 or older. Every year that substance use is delayed during the period of adolescent brain development, the risk of addiction and substance abuse decreases.
We remember those who have lost their lives to substance abuse, acknowledge those in recovery and the loved ones who support them, and recognize the vital role prevention education plays. While there is no one way or guarantee to prevent someone from abusing drugs and alcohol, there are things that everyone can do to make healthy choices and prevent going down a dangerous path. We encourage you to review and share these tips to promote a healthy lifestyle free from addiction.
Understand how substance abuse develops
— Using addictive drugs for recreational purposes
— Seeking out intoxication every time you use
— Abusing prescription medication
Avoid temptation and peer pressure
Develop healthy friendships and relationships by avoiding family members or friends who pressure you to use substances. Just say no! Prepare a plan ahead of time to keep from giving into peer pressure.
Seek help for mental illness
Unfortunately, mental illness and substance abuse often go together. If you are dealing with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, you should seek professional help from a licensed therapist or counselor. A professional will provide you with healthy coping skills to alleviate your symptoms without turning to drugs and alcohol.
Examine your risk
Look at your family history of mental illness and addiction. Studies have shown that this disease is hereditary but can be prevented. The more you are aware of your risk, the more likely you’ll be able to overcome it.
Focus on the future
People often turn to drugs and alcohol when something in their life is missing or not working. Look for ways to get involved in hobbies and other activities that reduce boredom and excess free time. Developing goals and dreams for your future will help you focus on what you want and realize that drugs and alcohol will simply get in the way of achieving your aspirations.
Please visit ontariocountyny.gov for more information about substance abuse services in Ontario County as well as Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency at flacra.org.
About this series
Matt Sproul is chief of Canandaigua Emergency Squad (CES), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit unit that receives no tax-based support. CES responds to more than 6,000 calls per year serving the towns of Canandaigua, Bristol, Hopewell, Gorham and East Bloomfield and the village of Bloomfield. East Bloomfield Volunteer Ambulance is a division of CES. For more information, go to canandaiguaes.org. If you have questions or want to get involved, send emails to email@example.com.