An elderly woman is caring for her sick husband. She’s not sure how she’s going to pay his rising medical bills, she’s worried she will need to place him in a nursing facility, she fears being alone after 50 years of marriage.
A Veteran comes back from military service. He has nightmare of things he saw in combat, he jumps when he hears loud, sudden noises, such as the backfire of a car or fireworks. He doesn’t like when people “sneak up” behind him.
A child is being bullied in school by other classmates because he’s smaller than most kids his age, timid and shy, all making him an easy target.
A college student is the victim of date rape at a sorority party. She becomes withdrawn, fearful of being alone with boys, even ones she thought she could trust.
In each of these instances, the coping skills of the individual are what will help them get through these events and life challenges. Sadly, everyone is equipped with different coping skills and these are skills that are generally developed over time, usually through the guidance of your family when challenging situations occur. For some, a coping skill is getting back on the bike after you’ve fallen off when you’ve first removed those training wheels. Another coping skill is learning how to be financially responsible and plan for the day when you will live independently from your parents/spouse.
Some, who have not developed strong coping skills, turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with situations they do not know how to handle.
The elderly woman pours a drink at 11 am because she’s terrified of life without her husband and fears for her financial security. The Veteran drinks to calm his nerves, ashamed to see a counselor for PTSD. The child being bullied looks for a way to fit in and when at a party is offered drugs; he enjoys the experience and develops new friendships with those who introduced him to the drugs. Our young college student starts using addictive prescription sleeping aids in order get a full night’s sleep.
In any of these cases, the habits that are formed by the individuals could lead to substance abuse and cause their life to spiral out of control. Through substance abuse counseling at Pathways Florida, they would first deal with the traumas that led them to use, then they would learn coping mechanisms to help them face challenging situations in the future, without the aid of drugs or alcohol.
A Pathways graduate said, “I had a problem one day, so I had a drink after work. The next day, I had the same problem, plus a new one because I hadn’t dealt with the first problem. Before I knew it, I had many problems and could not control my drinking.” He spoke about how the program taught him to tackle each problem as they came.