Summer is a special time in the San Juans, with long days of hiking, time on the river, and of course dancing at the multitude of festivals that the season brings. In a town like Telluride, where “work hard, play hard” is a common mindset, these activities can often be accompanied by substance use. So the beginning of festival season may be a great time to check-in with yourself about your own personal substance intake.

First, some data. While information for 2021 is not yet available, most indicators show that substance usage increased substantially throughout the pandemic. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that in 2020 the number of deaths related to alcohol, which include causes such as accidents and liver disease, increased by 25 percent from the year prior. Young adults between 25-44 saw the largest increase in alcohol-related deaths. Between April 2020 and April 2021, we saw an unprecedented number of deaths attributed to drug overdoses. Over 100,000 Americans died from drug abuse in that 12-month period. These numbers indicate a worrying trend. More people are opting to cope with life stressors by engaging in substance use, which can rapidly turn to addiction.

As we head into a season in which substance use is quite normalized, I encourage you to get curious about your own relationship with substances, including those most typically seen within our culture:  alcohol, tobacco and cannabis.

Questions that you can ask yourself may include:

  • What does my substance usage look like? What am I using, and with what frequency?

  • What impact does it have on my life? What do I like about my substance intake? What does not serve me well? Has my substance use resulted in any negative consequences?

  • Has anyone in my family or community voiced concern about my substance use?

  • Is my current usage in line with my values and goals?

  • If I wanted to cut back, what would that look like? What barriers could make it difficult to decrease my substance use?

If answering these questions tells you that your substance use is no longer serving you well, please reach out to me or your primary care provide. We are always ready to assist you in making positive life changes. There can be multiple options for treatment, from support groups to residential treatment programs.  

You can reach me by calling the Telluride Regional Medical Center at 970-728-3848. If you are already a patient of the Medical Center, you can message me through the patient portal

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please reach out to Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-8255. Be well. 

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