Mariah Larocque is an advocate for substance misuse awareness and has volunteered hundreds of hours towards recovery advocacy. She is on her way to becoming a certified recovery coach after receiving training at Rivier University through the Recovery Coach Academy. She is a volunteer with Hope for NH recovery and is a full time student at The University of Southern Maine in Gorham. 

You've seen it on the news, read about it in the paper and even received a letter from your son or daughters school regarding what they are doing to combat the issue. At this point, you may even be tired of hearing about the opioid epidemic. However, we are nowhere near finished talking and I hope you aren't finished listening. New Hampshire has made great strides in their efforts to combat the epidemic. Walking for the cause, fighting on Capitol hill in Washington for more funding and uniting as a state to make sure resources are available.

"What more can be done?" you may ask. Simply keeping the conversation alive is one of the most important things that you can do to help. 

Here are three ways to keep the conversation going:

1. Speak openly and honestly with your friends and family about drug and alcohol misuse. Think long and hard, do you feel that you may misuse alcohol? Do you have a friend or family member who misuse substances, perhaps even prescription medications? Take the opportunity, however hard it may be, to show care and compassion while leading them towards a path of sobriety.

2. Connect and get involved with the community. See what you can do to advocate and help! Every Recovery Community Organization (RCO) is in need of people looking to lend a helping hand. Find an RCO in your community who is in need of volunteers and advocates! Or volunteer to work with your local Prevention Coalition - find one near you here:

3. Use your voice to help end the stigma. Research and learn about the topic so you feel comfortable discussing it, helping people and being an overall advocate of the cause! Also, if you hear something, say something. Part of the reason why the stigma surrounding substance misuse still exists is because many people don't speak up when they hear negative talk about substance use disorder. Be the change. Everyone is human and in need of compassion and understanding.

People in New Hampshire and across the United States are still dying and just because it is not headline news does not mean that our obligation to help those in need is finished. When the media focus fizzles, we actually have to work harder to fight for funding and speak for those who are still in need of help. With education and compassion our Nation will heal.