Perspectives on substance use disorder: An exercise in empathy

Guest post by Lauri Fennell, public health and social sciences librarian, and Vicky Nucci, alcohol and drug prevention coordinator at the Wellness Resource Center

Self-reflection and assessing old patterns is common with the start of a new year. Often the New Year is brought in with drinking. This is a tradition that can bring about a lot of feelings, and we may not know how it affects our campus community. Building empathy and expanding our perspectives will help create safe and healthy spaces for all. This post is a collaboration between the Wellness Resource Center and Temple University Libraries.

Abstact image of lights on Temple's campus

photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg, Temple University

The importance of sharing perspectives

In a world where substance use has been normalized and oftentimes glorified, it’s important to understand all sides of this issue. 2020 was a challenging year and connecting with each other continues to be important. Students have had to navigate new models of participating in course instruction and connecting with one another in virtual spaces. Isolation has had its effects on all students but particularly on our students in recovery. If you or someone you know are affected by substance use disorder (SUD) and would like to seek options, check out this article from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


Temple University Libraries has a large collection of videos and books (including ebooks). Search all Books and Media with your subject term, then limit by subject—e.g., fiction, memoir, etc. The Free Library of Philadelphia is another place to discover books on addiction and recovery.

Below you’ll find a curated list of media that is centered around folks’ experiences with substance use disorder. A few in the recommended list may be available as an ebook or audiobook too.


Memoirs and biographies share personal stories, from the individual’s struggle with substance use disorder to the effects on family members. As with any reading, some will love a title while others don’t. 

Educational Texts

To learn more about substance use disorder, below are a couple of texts:

A space for reflection

Stress is often met with “I need a drink” or “you deserve a drink.” The language we use with phrases like happy hour, BYOB, and others, assumes that everyone wants to drink. The next time you plan a gathering or talk about how to handle stress, think about the implications our words can have on folks who live sober lifestyles or are in recovery.