Wellness Wednesday – Substance Abuse
Maintaining positive health and wellbeing during the third national lockdown can be challenging, so it is important to be honest about how we are feeling. We set up an anonymous way to submit lockdown confessions, which we then discuss with our Head of Wellbeing, Jo Boyd to get her advice on the things that people have been struggling with. This week we spoke to Jo about substance abuse as many people reported drinking more alcohol during lockdown.
The stress and pressure of lockdown can alter our ability to cope, and when we struggle to cope, we often find that our behaviours change. This could be manifested through eating more than normal, drinking more alcohol or even using other substances. It’s important that we recognise these behaviours or habits before they become a problem and have an impact on our health and wellbeing.
Substance abuse is a daunting term and many people believe it doesn’t apply to them. However, if you are frequently consuming alcohol, using drugs or other chemicals to help you cope with lockdown or stress in general, then you may need support or treatment to help you stop.
We use alcohol to celebrate, relax and also as a coping mechanism. Although it may seem to help in the beginning, mis-using it can lead to much bigger problems. It’s so easy to become dependent on alcohol, ignore the underlying problem and get addicted to it by using it to numb your feelings.
Drug and substance abuse
Drug abuse is the excessive, inappropriate, or illegal use of a substance, such as a drug, or another chemical such as an inhalant, which can result in addiction. Most drug taking is an illegal activity and will damage your health.
Coping strategies and helpful resources
- As substance abuse is a way of coping with stress in life, one way to help yourself is to develop alternative strategies to manage your stress more effectively such as:Not waiting until things are “out of control.”
- Physical activity can help to improve the way we feel about ourselves and our bodies, boost mood and concentration, aid sleep and reduce reactions to stress. Aim to get at least 30 minutes’ exercise three times a week.
- Do something you enjoy that stops you thinking about daily concerns for a while, like playing sport or making music.
- Taking regular breaks.
- Share your worries – talking through problems helps get worries in perspective. Writing things down can help too if you really cannot face talking to anyone.
- Learn to say ‘no’ – be clear about where your limits are and how much you can realistically take on. Let others know you are abstaining in advance and ask them to support you.
- Plan. If your workload seems unbearable, pick one urgent task at a time to work on. When you finish that task, choose another.
- Problem solving – stress is often caused by problems in our lives. Pinpoint what they are and identify small steps you can take to improve the situation.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Here are some free resources and helplines you can use:
- Talk to Frank about drug or alcohol concerns, on their 24 hour 7 day phone line on 0300123660 (normal call charges apply). Or text on 82111 (standard text charges apply) or via email email@example.com
- Drinkline Free, confidential helpline for anyone who is concerned about their drinking, or someone else's. Helpline: 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm)
- Alcoholics Anonymous has a 12 step program for recovery, their meetings are ruin on a donation basis and the first meeting is free. AA (Alcoholics anonymous) FREE National Helpline number on 0800 9177 650 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you take drugs and want to understand if you have become and addict, the Narcotics Anonymous have an easily accessible questionnaire available at https://ukna.org/content/am-i-addict. Narcotics Anonymous also have a 12-step program, based on the same principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and offer regular group meetings to help with recovery, the meetings are funded via voluntary donations and the first meeting is free. Helpline number 0300 999 1212 available from 10 am to midnight daily website at https://ukna.org/na-helpline-uk.