Sometimes it’s hard to see ahead and know where you are going to end up. You start down a path, one that other people are on, and as you go forward, you realize that you can’t seem to get off that path. There are other people on the path with you, making it seem okay that you are on the path too. Then you realize that they can’t get off of that path either. Once in a while, you see some people leave the path; occasionally someone turns around and walks back to where they started from.
Substance use can be like walking on the path. Some people use substances and recognize that they are not comfortable with the new path of use that they are on, and turn around. Maybe they have a drink after work every day with coworkers when the kitchen closes, or after leaving the job site. But over time it becomes more frequent and they notice that they don’t feel great in the morning, so they decide to stop hanging out after work at the bar or find a new activity to relax at the end of the day.
Substance use disorder can happen to anyone.
For many people, during the isolation and increased stress of the COVID pandemic, alcohol use increased. Little by little, many people found themselves having not one glass of wine or bottle of beer, but two or three, nightly. They are not alone. Substance use can become a repetitive behavior for many reasons. Many of us realize this habit For some of us, this use can turn into a substance use disorder (SUD), or addiction. It is common, preventable, and treatable.
SUD is a progressive, chronic condition that changes a person’s brain, making it difficult to stop using a particular substance or substances. What may start as a way to hang out with friends and have fun or deal with strong emotions, mental health, or pain, can become a compulsive need to use more frequently in higher amounts. Problem drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD) are the most common SUDs and impact not only individuals, but their families and children. At-risk alcohol use, or problem drinking, is defined as more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks per occasion for women and more than 14 drinks per week or more than four drinks per occasion for men.
SUD is a disease that is treatable with counseling, support, and medication. There is no one way or right path, but there is a way to recovery.
SUD is also preventable. Empowering young people with the knowledge that using substances can lead to SUD, even with what is considered low or normal use of legal substances, gives them an opportunity to choose to not use substances in the first place. Learning about the early warning signs of dependence and high risk behaviors or use, empowers all of us to cease use of a substance or seek help before it develops into a SUD. Being mindful of your use – monitoring, noticing your feelings, your when and why, and addressing problematic use early can prevent compulsive use later on and the negative consequences that accompany it.
New video to raise awareness around the importance of early intervention and that recovery is possible for everyone.
The Partnership @drugfreeNH and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Extension released a new video that is part of a video series designed to increase awareness around the misuse of opioids, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and other substances. Better Now: Life Without Substance Use introduces Justin, Dylan, Kim, Chad, and Tonya, five New Hampshire residents in long-term recovery from substance misuse. They let us in on how they knew it was time to change and what life looks like on the other side of their SUD.
Their stories inspire us with hope that recovery is possible for everyone and they share the tools that they use to remain in recovery. They also hope to reach young people who may have just begun to use substances, and who may not have a SUD, with their stories so that they can choose where the path they may be walking on right now will lead.
Download the video discussion guide!
In order to get the most from the video, The Partnership @drugfreeNH has developed a video discussion guide to help facilitate a discussion around its messages, stories, and topics through an individual or group screening. Download the video discussion guide here to further the conversation in your homes, schools, workplace, and community.
Join us for a LIVE video screening and panel discussion! Register today to join The Partnership @drugfreeNH virtually on Friday, May 12th, from 9 to 10:30 AM as we dive into the stories of these five New Hampshire residents in long-term recovery from substance misuse. The panel discussion will explore how the video participants knew it was time for a change and what life looks like on the other side of their substance use disorder.
Looking for more information? Visit our Reducing Substance Use webpage to find additional information on how to discuss the risks of substance use with young people, how to understand the warning signs around use, and learn the resources available to reduce or stop substance use.