The 1in5 Anti-stigma Campaign focuses on normalizing the need for mental health resources and removing barriers for those who want to access care. Starting the conversation regarding these significant yet treatable issues also opens the door to providing support.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we are exploring a variety of mental health topics. This week, we focus on substance use. Read on to understand the various causes, risk factors, and potential treatments for substance use concerns.

Recognizing substance use concerns
When faced with prolonged stress, trauma, or crisis, it can be difficult to identify healthy ways to cope with emotional, mental, and physical strain. Turning to substances can be a tempting method of escaping troubling thoughts and emotions. However, casual substance use has the potential to turn into a disorder if left unchecked, leading to interference with work, responsibilities, and relationships.

According to the United States National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 16.7% of Americans over the age of 12 have battled a substance use disorder. There are various reasons why an individual might experience a substance use concern. Some of these might include:

  • Substances’ effect on brain chemistry that triggers intense feelings
  • Genetics because addiction can run in families
  • Trauma
  • Social pressure
  • Underlying mental health concern

Replacing negative feelings and emotions with alcohol or drugs can lead to addiction. Symptoms of a substance use concern may include the following:

  • Isolation from others
  • Mood swings
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Physical deterioration
  • Relying on the substance to function
  • Missing work or school

If you or a loved one exhibits one or more of these symptoms, it might be time to consider reaching out for support.

Treatment is key to addressing addiction. Seek help from a mental health professional or other health care provider if you are experiencing a mental health concern. An abundance of resources is available to help with substance use or addiction, and research shows that most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using substances for the long term. Not sure where to start? Your program offers helpful tools such as clinical assessment and dedicated substance use support. Begin by clicking the Addiction Care Navigator icon on your web portal or mobile app or exploring the Addiction Toolkit.

Help is available
As always, your SupportLinc EAP is available 24/7/365 to provide advocacy and resources to support various mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, stress, work-related pressures, relationship issues, and substance use. To contact SupportLinc, you can call them at 1-888-881-LINC(5462), email them at, or visit their website at and use the group code psh.