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Vignette Discussion Guide

The Faces & Voices of Recovery vignettes can be used to introduce the topic of recovery to audiences who know very little about the topic. You may want to start a discussion, focusing on what addiction looks like, show a vignette, and go from there. Here are some questions and probes to get you started.

PART 1: The Faces of Addiction

Why do people abuse drugs and alcohol?

Probe: Brainstorm potential reasons:

  • Escape reality
  • Boredom
  • “Everyone else is doing it!”
  • Sadness
  • Family history

What images pop up in your mind when you think about a person with addiction problems? Mental disorder? Co-occurring illnesses?

Probe: Tap into the stereotypical images of addicts – then debunk them all by acknowledging it could happen to anyone – share a vignette.

What else goes hand-in-hand with substance use?

Probe: Discuss the conditions that contribute to or coincide with substance use disorders. Consider:

  • Co-occurring disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.)
  • Eating disorders
  • Gambling addiction
  • Sex addiction

What impact does substance use have on your life?

Probe: Brainstorm adjectives that describe the perceptions and negative realities of substance use.


Negative Results

“Drinking and drugging make me feel relaxed.” “I feel out of it the morning after I drug or drink.”
“Drinking and drugging make me happy.” “In the long-run, it can make you feel sad and disconnected.”
“Drinking and drugging make me feel in-control.” “All too quickly I get out of control – I skip classes, fail courses, lose friends – I ultimately lose control over my life.”
“I feel accepted when I drink and drug.” “I felt isolated in my addiction.”
“I’m OK – so what that I have mood swings. I can control this thing." “At some point I decided I couldn’t ‘control this thing.’ I become obsessed, depressed, and worse.”
“The eating, the binging, the highs, the lows – life is a roller coaster and that’s normal – right?” “Wow – all of the things that I’m doing to my body are making me sick. How do I deal with the ‘emotional pain?’ Drinking and drugging make me feel even, allowing me to forget - until I get sick.”
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What does prevention as it relates to mental and/or substance use disorders look like?

Probe: What prevention programs are available on-campus and in the community; are you connected with them?

What on- and off-campus triggers impact substance use, and how are the triggers being addressed?

Probe: Brainstorm the triggers and “counter-triggers.”



Stress of too much school work. Classes that teach you how to study.
Drinking and drugging is everywhere! Recovery Community Centers, alcohol-free activities, substance-free dorms, etc.
My boy/girlfriend is drugging and drinking. Counseling support that encourages you to abstain from use, in spite of the fact that a significant other is abusing.
I’m feeling awkward, isolated, and alone. 12-Step program and other support systems.
My family has a long history of mental and/or substance use disorders. Counseling and support that helps you disengage from unhealthy patterns.
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part2 Click here for Part 2: What Would You Do If...


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