Welcome to the first installment in a multi-part series on ADHD and substance use! In this series we will be going in-depth on topics specific to adult ADHD and substance use including: common symptoms and behaviours of ADHD, the neurological aspects of ADHD, common habits around recreational drug use and self-medicating, and the prescription medications most commonly used by people with ADHD. This first part of the series hopes to give a brief overview clarifying common ideas and misconceptions about ADHD and how substance use can become a part of the ADHD lived experience.
You may have heard or read somewhere that it’s more likely for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to develop substance use issues or even just generally struggle with self-moderation when it comes to substances. In fact, as many as a quarter of adults seeking treatment for substance use related disorders also have an ADHD diagnosis.
That also doesn’t account for all the people that may suspect they have ADHD but are undiagnosed, or those that maybe don’t even realize they have it to begin with. But how does that actually present itself in real life? What does it look like to be an adult with ADHD trying to help mitigate some of those symptoms with substances and self-medicating? First we have to start with outlining what some of those symptoms are. Continue reading
Xannies, tictacs, bars, oh my! All the ins and outs of benzodiazepines (benzos) and z-drugs! Commonly used prescription drugs for anxiety and insomnia, and are also used recreationally without a prescription. Even when they’re prescribed, they still have unique risks! Benzos have been infiltrating the illicit drug trade, increasing the risk of overdose and uncomfortable side effects. This piece covers the differences, dosages and routes of administration and other harm reduction strategies to keep you and your friends as safe as possible.
(Image from VIM Fitness)
The food we put into our body is what fuels the way we feel, look and even think.
Food has many nutrients that are either beneficial or may cause negative effects.
When it comes to mindful eating, we are being aware of what is going into our body and giving thanks to everything we eat.
Did you know, eating before using substances can help your time go a lot better? Your body needs to be fueled especially when you eat a substance, it is absorbed through the lining of the stomach and small intestine. If this is empty, this is when acid reflux or gut inflammation can form. Some drugs can make you nauseous, but it’s usually best not to be on an empty stomach.
Being mindful of what is entering your body is also a way of self-care, as you are taking the time to assess, acknowledge what is going into your stomach and body and becoming aware of what feels good to and for you.
Everyone has differences when it comes to food and our bodies. Some folks have bowel issues, eating disorders, gluten intolerances, allergies and more.
What food groups work for some, may not work for others. This is just the beginning to figuring out what feels good for you.
**It is important to know that this is not about feeling guilt or shame about eating any foods, including those that make us feel happy or give us comfort, eating past feeling full, or eating foods that don’t make us feel good – it is strictly about awareness and noticing what is. We are all human and deserve all food groups, including those that give us comfort. ** Continue reading
What is GHB & GBL?
GHB: Gamma Hydroxybutyrate & GBL is Gamma Butyrolactone. Both are central nervous system depressants, meaning they slow your heartrate and breathing. (See our other article for more details about GHB also!)
- GHB is occasionally prescribed for patients struggling with narcolepsy; under the brand name of Xyrem.
- GBL is a precursor to GHB, meaning when GBL is consumed it is turned into GHB in the body, effectively making the substances very similar when consumed. GBL is a chemical solvent used in industries to produce other chemicals.
- GHB is commonly bought and sold in vials and bottles, and is made by mixing GBL with sodium hydroxide, or potassium hydroxide.
- GHB is consumed orally, often times mixed in a soft drink.
- Both GHB and GBL are clear, oily liquids.
- GHB tastes slightly salty and bitter, and is typically odorless or has a mild salty odor, while GBL has a very strong chemical scent & taste.
GHB chemical structure
Effects may include:
- Euphoria, nausea, blacking out or ‘G-ing out’, increased sex drive, dizziness, disinhibition, altered mood, clumsiness, altered perception of time, sleepiness, sweating, memory loss, auditory and visual hallucinations and confusion. GHB takes about 20-60 minutes to kick in, and lasts up to 2.5 hours, with after effects lasting up to 4 hours.
With the stay at home order, social isolation, prolonged stress and employment loss- it is no surprise that substance use may be more prevalent during this time. We’ll cover some of the data that was collected by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) in the earlier months of the pandemic. The CCSA asked over 1000 respondents during April of 2020, about their alcohol and cannabis use habits/rates.
Rates of, and demographics of use:
Have the days gotten longer, but time for yourself seems shorter?
When it comes to our mind, body and soul, we have to take the time to nurture ourselves. During the times of COVID-19, a lot is surpassing us within our day-to-day life, and it is now more than ever that we have to dive deep in taking care of ourselves.
With self-care, it should be known that there is a lot more than picking one specific day.
You are a beautiful temple who deserves nourishment all day every day and using that ‘self-care Sunday’ may feel good in the moment, but it is not enough. You are more than one day a week kind of deal. Being stuck at home and watching Netflix is quite cozy, why not throw in a face mask or cucumber water to keep hydrated and remember to keep the body moving!
What is Self-Care?
The WHO 1998 definition:
‘Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc.), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.’
During a pandemic our bodies may go into deep shock. Life is becoming more stressful as good news is hard to find these days. Being able to take that time for relaxation or just managing your own personal stress can help with maintaining your wellness.
Managing Stress Continue reading
Breaking down various methods of reducing drug injection related risks & harms
There are plenty of reasons you might choose to inject, and injecting drugs can lead to some unique risks and harm. It allows for significantly faster, and more potent onset of drug effects (if you are mainlining) as opposed to insufflation (snorting), plugging (consuming drugs through your anal/vaginal cavity), or swallowing drugs. You can inject a number of different drugs including opioids (drugs like heroin, morphine and fentanyl), stimulants (like speed, crack, crack cocaine) and various pills. We’ll break down the basics to help keep you and your peers safer if you choose to inject your drugs through a vein; intravenously (AKA IV/mainlining) into your muscle; intramuscularly (AKA IM) or subcutaneously injecting under the skin (skin popping).
For centuries nutmeg has been used as a psychoactive drug, falling in and out of popularity. It is often selected because it is cheap and easy to come by, (there might be some in your kitchen spice rack right now). Nutmeg is sometimes used to ease symptoms when experiencing opiate/ opioid withdrawal.
Since the 12th century people have used nutmeg as both a drug with medicinal properties and a seasoning. French astrologer, Nostradamus, was said to have induced his prophetic visions by ingesting large quantities of nutmeg. Malcom X is even quoted noting “a penny matchbox full of nutmeg had the kick of three or four reefers,” in his autobiography.
A drug with such a rich history is sure to peak some people’s interest and curiosities, especially being so cheap and easy to access. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the dangers and risk of harm when ingesting nutmeg in high quantities. Currently there is a recurring “Nutmeg Challenges” trend on social media sites like Facebook and TikTok where people (especially teens and young adults) are filming themselves after consuming 2-4 tablespoons of nutmeg.
Light to moderate doses for ground nutmeg range from 5-20g, (roughly 1-5 teaspoons), with strong doses being from 20-30g, (roughly 5-7 teaspoons).
***Please note that this is an informational overview on the interactions between SSRI and SNRI medications with recreational substances. You should always tell your doctor what recreational substances you use when considering treatments for depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. There may be additional risks and side effects not listed here!***
SSRI and SNRI?
SSRI’s (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) and SNRI’s (Serotonin-Norepinephrine Re-uptake inhibitors) are widely known antidepressant medications that are also prescribed for many other conditions. They can be prescribed by your doctor for anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), fibromyalgia and nerve pain syndromes, and even conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and premature ejaculation. Because they are prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, some folks may not be aware that they are taking antidepressant medications! This is important because there are significant risks associated with taking SSRI/SNRI medications and using recreational drugs, which is why you should always ask your doctor or other healthcare professional if there are any interactions between the drugs you use and the drugs they give you – every time! Even after talking to your doctor, it’s a good idea to take charge of your health and do your own research (such as reading this blog!)