Some people swear by the 12 step program and abstinence in general. That might work for some folks but as we know, it definitely doesn’t work for everyone. When you notice your use is getting out of hand, what can you do? What happens when the party is fun, but just doesn’t stop, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, all of sudden it’s out of control? Addiction is a complicated thing. For the purposes of this post, we’ll just be talking about harm reduction tips (things you can do right now, without stopping use entirely) for when you or someone you love’s drug use seems to be getting the best of them.
For more support around dealing with addiction in Toronto, hit up Breakaway Addictions, YMCA or East Metro Youth Services.
Before you decide to use any substance, it’s super helpful to educate yourself as much as possible. This can mean learning about the effects, risks, dangers, dosage, duration of effect, after effects, overdose potential, and addiction potential. At the Trip! Project we provide literature with this sort of information. You can also check out websites like dancesafe.org or erowid.com and bluelight.ru to ask questions and find info.
All recreational drugs have potential effects that could be desirable or not – it’s important to be prepared for both. We all take risks every day. Taking any drug is definitely a risk, so try to prepare yourself for possible outcomes. This could mean eating a good meal before you party, choosing spaces to use in where you feel safe, taking vitamins, bringing water with you, getting a good night’s sleep, checking in with yourself about where your head’s at or testing your substance. All these factors can impact your experience, along with the risks that come with specific drugs. Putting the prep time in also puts you in a better headspace to make the choices that are best for you.
Setting Boundaries and Limits
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself before you party:
- What drugs do you feel are okay for you?
- How often do you plan on using this drug?
- How much are you comfortable with using at a time?
- How much money are you going to be spending on it?
- When do you plan on using it?
- Have you set time aside for the hangover or after effects?
- Where do you plan on using it and where will you be while you’re high?
- Who do you feel comfortable using drugs with?
- Are you okay with having sex while you are high?
- What routes of administration (railing/injecting/popping a cap/etc) are you okay with using?
These are all questions you should make a habit of asking yourself if you’re a person who chooses to use drugs. Paying attention to these questions every time you use can help you sort out where your own personal limits are and stay within them. Reminding yourself of these limits can help you stay in control!
Getting Back on Track
Uh-oh, those questions fell to the wayside and now you feel you’ve been partying too hard, too much. Here are some tips on how to reestablish some of those limits:
Buy less so you do less.
It’s cheaper to buy drugs in bulk but you might end up doing more just because it’s there, which makes it cost more when you don’t save them.
Let someone hold it for you.
Even if you buy the same amount, you can parcel off an amount you’re okay having and pass the rest to a trusted friend to hold for you. You could even invite a trusted person over and get them to hide your stash in your room, so it’s definitely safe but you don’t have easy access to it. Let them know a date when they can give it back to you or tell you where you put it.
Bump ketamine every weekend, all weekend? Pop a molly every time you leave the house? Not sure if its a problem? Than take a break for a month or few. If you are using drugs on a regular basis and think you can stop whenever you want, but you don’t want to, how do you know for sure? Even not wanting to stop can be a sign of a developing addiction. If you notice a cycle it could mean that it’s time to take a break to test yourself. Plan a drug free day, weekend, week or month and see how it feels. Spend time with friends who don’t party to stay busy.
Set a limit and party within it.
Decide at the beginning of the night how much you want to do and stick to it. Tell your friends you’re good to go with what you have and that you won’t be taking them up on any generous offers. Only bring what you decided to do and when that’s gone, that’s it. You can also try lowering your dose. This could mean doing less or swapping substances (ie beers instead of vodka).
Wait until you’re sober to get high again.
Find yourself redosing before you’re sober again? And the cycle continuing way past your expected end time? Try doing something then waiting until you’re actually sober before doing another hit or even taking another drink. Decide in a sober mindset if you want to keep the party going.
Learn your family history.
If someone in your family has dealt with addiction, you’re at a heightened risk for following their path. Get a sense of where you’re coming from. Everyone deals with their use differently and just because it runs in your family, doesn’t mean you’ll inevitably have the same issues. You choose your own adventure and can absolutely take steps to control your use.
Avoid using recreational drugs for self medication.
Recreational drugs are best used for just that, recreation. Although it can be tempting to use recreational drugs to lift you up if you are feeling depressed, or chill you out if you’re stressed, using to self medicate is often a slippery slope and can quickly lead to an addictive cycle. Most recreational drugs are not beneficial at all when it comes to long term regular use, and you may find farther down the road that the symptoms you’ve been masking have been made worse by the drug or have grown because you have failed to address the problem you’re facing.
If you think that there’s something going on with you emotionally or mentally that you can’t deal with instead of using drugs to mask your problem reach out for help, talk to your doctor, speak with a counsellor, make an appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist, talk to a peer you trust, or speak with someone who works at Trip!. You are not alone and help is out there!