I’d like to add to the letter “Privacy rights and addiction” [May 25]. It’s estimated that at least half of the people who suffer from a substance-use disorder have one or more mental health disorders.

Many adolescents who fear being different from their peers do not talk about their mental illness symptoms and instead seek to feel better by whatever means are available, such as alcohol and other drugs. Others have tried legitimate routes to quell their symptoms, such as taking prescribed medications, but have found the side effects unbearable. Certain illicit drugs quiet their symptoms without immediate negative side effects.

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In addition, more people than we know suffer from traumatic childhood experiences. This can leave adolescents and adults feeling hopeless and helpless, and drug use may seem like a viable option.

Prevention should begin in elementary school in the form of teaching children coping skills, conflict resolution, meditation and other relaxation techniques. Too many children do not learn these skills at home. Kids who feel good about themselves and know they have options are less likely to use drugs.

Anne MacInnis, Bayville

Editor’s note: The writer is a licensed master social worker and a credentialed alcohol and substance abuse counselor employed at an outpatient substance abuse facility.