💁🏽 If you think you have a problem with how you are using substances (anything like marijuana, opioids, stimulants, or prescription medications used for other purposes), know that you are not alone.
Rates of substance use* and/or drug overdose have increased since March 2020. There are many possible reasons for this including: isolation, lack of access to services and support, and the additional stressors of the pandemic (emotional, financial, and social). Not all people who have started to use substances had previously used them.
ℹ️ Since the start of the pandemic, many resources and supports have become virtual instead of in person. Some of these continue to be helpful. Data support ongoing telehealth treatments for opioid use disorder, for example. Key resources to help with substance use treatment include: Group or peer support, therapy, medications if appropriate, behavioral health evaluation and counseling (because anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions are common with substance use), collaboration with a primary care and/or mental health clinician for ongoing support, access to medications that support substance use treatment, and access to lifesaving medications to reverse the effects of an overdose (such as Narcan (Naloxone).
😕 If you aren’t sure if you are struggling with substance use, you can take this simple screening tool to help you learn more about your use. While the tool can’t diagnose you, it could help you find out if substance use is making it hard for you to keep up your daily responsibilities to work, your family, and others.
🆘 If you do think you are struggling with substance use, it can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions to figure out where to start:
1. What are your goals? Do you want to reduce how much you are using? Are you ready to stop?
➡️ Knowing what your goals are can help you be realistic about what supports you need.
2. What are the effects of your use? What do you want to be different?
➡️ Focusing on one thing to change at a time can help you to get started and to make change more possible.
3. What is making it difficult for you to stop using? Is it because you are alone? Could you work with a friend or family member to help you support your goals? If you are struggling with your mental health, could you also seek mental health support?
➡️ Thinking about these challenges can help you come up with additional supports.
4. How do you learn best? Do you think you can get support virtually or do you prefer in person? Do you need someone to come with you?
➡️ Making the best plan for YOU will make you more likely to succeed.
5. What can you control right now? Can you work on sleep, nutrition, daily plans? Can you take out things that don’t keep you safe at home (like prescription medications, alcohol)?
➡️ When you focus on what you can control, you can start to lower anxiety and help stay more present on what you need to do.
6. Where can you find connection? Can you text or call people close to you? Can you join a group like a gym or a faith based group?
➡️ Isolation is often a trigger for substance use so it is important to connect with people who support you and to distance yourself from people or situations that may trigger substance use.
Once you have a better understanding of how substance use affects your life, you can start to find help (in the U.S. you can look here for state licensed providers or check out the resources from a previous post here. Remember that the journey to recovery from substance use can look different for each person and requires long term support. Taking one small step towards decreasing your substance use CAN make a difference.
Stay Safe. Stay Well.
Those Nerdy Girls
*Alcohol is also considered a substance and was discussed in last week’s post here.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Quick Facts on Substance Use and COVID-19
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Drug Overdose Data
Changes in Substance Use Treatment