In this second part of our series on ADHD and substance use (read Part 1 here), we will be discussing the neurological aspects of ADHD. Harm reduction exists in many facets of life, and can take on many forms. Here at Trip! Project, one of the ways we practice harm reduction is through the spreading of knowledge and awareness of various substances, and phenomena related to taking/using these substances. The idea behind this is that knowledge is power! Having an awareness and understanding of the substances we take and the ways in which they interact with our brains is one way to make more informed and hopefully safer choices when it comes to substance use. The same can be said about our own brain chemistry and structure! Knowing how or why we experience the things we do can help us make informed choices and take better care of our brains.
This next installment aims to share some of the neurological aspects of ADHD to inform not only why those of us with ADHD gravitate towards the substances we do, but also to undo some of the shame and stigma associated with those habits. Some of these habits are wired into us on a neurological level! That’s not to say we have no control over our decisions or choices. Understanding why we make certain choices can go a long way in overcoming the shame many of us feel around our actions and impulses. Sometimes we all need a little reminder not to stigmatise the way that different brains operate, and to remember that trying to make changes to your mental wiring (if that’s what you want for yourself) can be incredibly challenging! So, with that, we hope to share some info on what specifically is happening on a neurological level when it comes to the ADHD experience.
For this February: May we not only celebrate and honour Black histories, but may we invest in Black futures also. For this Valentine’s day, may we give back, may we gift each other the flowers that we deserve, and may we love deeper in solidarity. For all of this month and beyond, let us continue to seed for change through care, as mutual-aid is indeed harm reduction in a world where it feels like there’s not enough love to live. Black folks in our communities deserve rest, justice, and recovery. We will not celebrate resilience without resistance to systematic violence. We shall remember to care for, invest in, and heartfully cherish Black presence, in all timelines and beyond, as we love towards a future that we all deserve.
Check out these upcoming events (Feb 24 & Feb 28) at NIA Centre for the Arts, a Toronto org that supports & showcases Black artists and artwork.
2 GoFundMes to Support & Share:
Justice for Moses Erhirhie
Help Shar Get Therapy & Heal
Care for Our Queer & Trans Black Friend
Black Trans Couple’s Affirmation & Survival Fund
Myles’ Gender Affirming Procedure Fund
Therapy Fund: Black, trans, ND & traumatized
Help Antea Rest and Recover
Cleo’s Top Surgery
Help My Mom and Her Fight against Cancer
Justice for Moka
In Memory of D’Andre A. Campbell
Written and compiled by Leon Tsai, a Trip! Peer
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
Photo by Jeff Bierk
Housing is a human right, however…
“It’s estimated that 1500 people sleep outside in Toronto as the result of a housing crisis that saw 102,049 households waitlisted for social housing in 2019 and over 9000 people homeless” – Encampment Support Network (E.S.N.) Toronto
Housing instability and the lack of shelter resources continue to be a violent factor to marginalized folks living in the city. From locally to globally, harm reduction values and practices are both necessary and essential while reaching towards safer and stable housing for all. Not to mention the restrictions or stigmatizations against substance use often turn people who use drugs away from community housing and shelters altogether. Especially, according to E.S.N. Toronto, “as of June 5 there were 14 current COVID-19 outbreaks and 528 confirmed cases in shelters. 4 People have died. In the encampments that have been tested for COVID-19, there were zero cases.” Housing is a human right, and it should not be at the compromise of any person’s dignity, autonomy, or survival. This pandemic should be a reminder of how much care we all deserve and not an opportunity for anyone to be left behind.
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