It’s a new year and that can mean many different things for everyone.
Many take this time to set new goals for themselves in regards to their health, family, religion and even economic growth. The New Year can be filled with many exciting changes and some of those changes can be stressful.
There are a variety of stress coping strategies, but unfortunately not everyone chooses the safest ones. Binge drinking, smoking marijuana or tobacco and taking prescription, over the counter or illicit drugs are examples of unhealthy responses to stress.
What our communities fail to realize is that a habit such as binge drinking or smoking, can start off as a casual affair, but can rapidly result in serious health consequences.
Trying out a healthier approach to deal with stress can be a great way to start the New Year! These stress coping strategies include anything from taking a run instead of taking a drink, meditating instead of getting high and even phoning a friend instead of smoking a cigarette.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2017 there was a total of 2,005,395 individuals receiving some sort of substance abuse treatment, nationally. These treatments could perhaps have been avoided by introducing other techniques of stress management such as those mentioned earlier. Since we cannot avoid stress altogether, suggesting healthy coping mechanisms as earliest possible to our youth can prevent future drug abuse and dependence. Abusing drugs and alcohol can quickly become a mental disorder if not tended to in the correct time frame.
Sometimes teens start off with “softer” drugs such as marijuana and can quickly move on to the “harder” drugs such as various prescription medication and even cocaine. Marijuana is often called a gateway drug and is one of the drugs that has been legalized by communities across our nation; because of its normalization, it is not seen as a threat by many, but the marijuana of today is much more potent than that of the past.
As reported by the Office of the Surgeon General, the THC concentration in marijuana increased three-fold from 1995 to 2014 (4 percent and 12 percent). This means that the risk of dependence is now higher due to the increased amounts of THC.
As stated in the Prevention Resource Center 11’s 2019 Regional Needs Assessment (RNA), according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in 2017 region 11 had the second highest youth admissions for mental health and substance use disorders in Texas with 11,121 clients. Out of the region, Cameron County had the highest number of admissions, followed by Hidalgo and Webb. Keep in mind that our RNA defines “youth” as anyone between the ages of 10 to 17. Though there is no specification in the range of ages for the youth admitted in 2017, these are our community’s children, friends, neighbors and our future.
When a New Year starts, so do people’s new goals, hopes and ambitions. Often times all someone needs is a little fuel to keep the flame going. Advocate for good habits and prevent our community from developing harmful ones. Be informed of preventative care and share the information with others to ensure their safety so that we may progress as one region and one community.
The Prevention Resource Center , a program of Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas, serves as the central data collection repository for region 11 and the developer of a yearly Regional Needs Assessment, which is available to community members at no cost. To find out more about the prevention work being conducted in your community, download the latest Regional Needs Assessment at our website: www.prc11.org/data.