Addressing alcohol and drug-related issues: Reducing harm and supporting positive change.


Addressing alcohol and drug-related issues: Reducing harm and supporting positive change.

Jennie Boyle, Western Connections Worker at ASCERT.

Whilst it is great to promote campaigns and initiatives under an umbrella, I sometimes think this can be off-putting for some people- it is almost like we make it sound more difficult or theoretical than it needs to be or people panic that they aren’t doing it right!

So yesterday- after my fifth day in a row of lazing like a slob on the sofa and binging Netflix, I was quietly ignoring the voice in my head that reminded me I should make the most of the opportunity to exercise and of course my one reason a day to get outside. I decided (like I do every Monday) that this is going to be the week I am going to start looking after me- nutrition, exercise and fresh air.

Something felt different today though- I woke with purpose and a plan and had decided that leaving my walk to the end of the work day wasn’t working for me as I had started skipping it and so it would now occur over my lunch hour. To get up and see the sun shining was also a huge motivating factor.

Previously my walks have been with my husband as we try to use it to represent the end of our work day and transition into our evenings. After receiving his letter to stay home at all costs over the next 12 weeks, I too had been using this as an excuse to avoid my own self-care. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my husband’s company very much, but 24/7 at present has made me realise just how much I NEED to set time aside that is just for me, and today was the start of it.

Here’s what I found:


Not long after I stuck the headphones in and got into my ‘I mean business on this powerwalk’ stride I was coming towards neighbours of mine (on the opposite side of the road ahead). So shouting across opposite sides of the road (well over 2 metres) we had our first full length conversation after living in the area for over 2 years. I found out quite a few things about them, as they did me and it was invigorating to have social conversation with people who were also drawing on the positive side of Isolation. We talked about our luck with the weather, how fortunate we were to have walking routes on our country roads as well as family members we weren’t aware were connected. It really made me reflect on how lazy I have got with my own connections- bordering on being socially awkward when someone dares to have a conversation face to face. So after 10 minutes of talking I walked on thinking about how much enjoyment I had gained from our chat.

Be Active

I’ll be honest, I am one of those women who has all the best intentions in the world but isn’t exactly great at carrying them out when it comes to physical exercise and nutrition. No sooner do I eat all the treats out of the cupboard and promise myself when they are gone that is it- I have them restocked. I have also been paying my gym for online coaching the last 3 weeks and to date have only completed one of the home workouts. Every time a video pops up with the daily challenge I feel a twinge of guilt at my laziness and tell myself off for ‘not having a good excuse’ not to do them. Again on my walk, I reflected on this and decided that going for my walk was enough for me and I should not put any pressure on myself for more because at this point in time, I feel more benefit of being outdoors and on my own where I may possibly get or give a smile to strangers that I pass on my route. So don’t sweat the small stuff but take the opportunity where you can.

Take Notice

I never just stick my headphones in anymore and listen to music and today it brought me so much more pleasure than I could have realised. I randomly decided I wanted to listen to Fleetwood Mac and instantly was flooded with memories of attending a concert with a close friend and a road trip I took in America with my sister- where we got to go see Stevie Nick’s play in an amphitheatre in the middle of nowhere- a concert I did not want to attend but that still gives me happy memories when I think about now.

I also found when I was walking I kept taking out my phone- not to check messages but to take pictures, of daffodils and deer, as well as what looked like a very suspicious goose. All these beauties on my own doorstep.I

Keep Learning

So I doubt very much if I am going to register for an online course or gain any new qualifications but I would be content with just learning about me during this time. My family have set up a weekly quiz night (over Zoom) and what I can tell you from this is that I am awful at Table Quiz’s- but I don’t care, I loved being part of it and can’t wait for next weeks. I may do a little extra research though, just to make us come a little higher up on the score board though.


I won’t lie, I haven’t exactly excelled in this area as I am trying to follow the government guidelines to the latter but I am willing to give anyone who wants it my time and attention. I have been the recipient of very thoughtful, kind and generous gifts though and I won’t lie it made my day to open my front door to 2 bags of groceries on my doorstep, one including a plant which I just felt was such a thoughtful and beautiful gesture. The other again was my Sunday dinner being left on my doorstep, because even with all this extra time on my hands I still hate cooking it! So knowing how good all this made me feel I would like to try do something similar for others.

You may notice that until now I haven’t mentioned the ‘C’ word and I won’t either. I have found that trying to remain positive throughout all this has required me to shift my outlook and perspective, and part of that is avoidance, in what I see as a productive way, avoiding the hype and fake news. Whilst I appreciate that we are all faced with different challenges during this time I just wanted to share a little bit of the joy I have found in the daily doses of positivity.