Substance Use Disorder Prevention during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a difficult experience for everyone, especially students and young adults. Due to social restrictions created by the pandemic, students have less access to friends, family, and other support systems to help manage stress and anxiety. This may prompt students to begin turning to prescription medications or other substances to cope. With many help centers and facilities closed, it is even more difficult for students to get help. That is why students must learn and practice various staying relaxed, calm, and happy despite circumstances to prevent or decrease potential substance use disorder.

For example, easy techniques that are easy to implement in daily life include talking to friends and family more, whether over the phone or to the people in your home. Since students are no longer in school with the ability to spend time with friends throughout the day, trying to keep in contact as much as possible and spending time with those close to you are the best ways to take part in normal social interactions that you otherwise may be missing! Other simple changes can include picking up new hobbies like journaling, reading, coding, etc., to stay occupied and interested in new things even though you are stuck at home. This can help limit boredom being a factor that leads to prescription drug misuse or any other kind of substance.

Here are two mindfulness techniques that help to reduce anxiety and feel calm recommended by Monica Kamran from Inner Sanctuary Wellness

Tense and Release – We tend to hold tension, stress, and emotions in our bodies; this exercise aids progressive muscle relaxation to ‘let go.’

1. Focus on your hands.

2. Clench your fists tightly for a few seconds—hold for the count of 5

3. Release the tension all in one go—make sure that the tension is released all at once.

4. Repeat -holding the fists tighter or lighter

5. Release the tension

You can practice this with different parts of your body- arms, legs, shoulders, etc.; make sure that it is at a pace and level that seems comfortable for you.

2:1:: 4:1 Breath – a calming technique that emphasizes a longer exhalation so that you empty your lungs, relax your muscles, and let go of all the tension in the body.

1. Breathe in for a count of 2

2. Hold the breath for a count of 1

3. Exhale for a count of 4

4. Hold the breath for a count of 1

Repeat a few times. Extend the duration of your practice slowly.

Please remember to stay safe, and if you would like more information, do not hesitate to reach out!

Written by Anika
Last Updated: September 15, 2021

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