Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs are easy to find in our communities. We have heard about their harmful effects, yet when so many people are drinking, smoking, or using other drugs, it may be difficult to make healthy choices. There are many things we can do to educate ourselves and to support a friend or family member dealing with substance use or abuse.
What Can I do If I Have a Disability?
- Get educated. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider and learn about the effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. For instance, find out if any medications you take could cause serious physical reactions if combined with alcohol.
- Get involved in activities in your community and help others learn about making healthy choices. Be a good role model to your friends.
- Take responsibility for your own behavior. Don’t put others at risk if you drink, smoke, or use drugs. Know the dangers.
- Get help if you need it. Counselors can help you address issues that might be leading you to use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
- Contact your local regional center to find out what resources may be available to you.
What Can Families and Friends Do?
- Get the facts. Become informed by reading books, magazines, pamphlets, and other literature from organizations whose mission is to educate, such as the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. The internet has a wealth of information written for all ages and learning abilities. Take a class or visit your library for other sources of information.
- Once you are informed you will be in a better position to assist your friend or family member to also become educated. Select some of this material that you think will interest the person. Always offer information in a non-judgmental manner.
- Be a good role model. Help the person develop coping strategies that are positive and not harmful. Encourage independence and support healthy choices.
- Help your friend or family member to understand conflicting points of view. The message heard from you, doctors, or teachers may be the opposite from what is seen on television and in the movies.
- Be sure the individual knows the laws governing alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and the consequences of violating the law.
- Encourage positive peer groups and encourage an active lifestyle that includes a wide range of social, athletic, educational, recreational, and artistic activities. Isolation is a risk factor for substance abuse.
- Advocate in your community for prevention and treatment programs that make accommodations to include people with disabilities.