These tips will keep you as safe as possible if you intend on using drugs.
Do not use alone
Using substances out of sight of others can be risky. One of the main risks of drug use is accidental overdose. Try to be with a more sober friend who can help and call an ambulance if needed.
Know your tolerance
People who use drugs are most vulnerable to overdose after a stay in prison, or period of time spent without substances. Our tolerance to substances depends on lots of factors and changes over time. When taking a new substance, or one you haven’t used in some time, take a small amount and see how you feel.
Start Low and Go Slow
Whether or not you are trying a drug for the first time, it’s always good to start with a test dose. Start with a small amount and don’t take more for at least two hours.
Don’t share paraphernalia
This includes bongs, bank notes, pipes, needles and most other drug taking equipment. This can help reduce the risk of spreading and contracting harmful viruses.
Test your drugs
In Wales, WEDINOS tests substances to give individual users rapid and accurate information on what their drugs actually contain. This has never been more important given the rise in fake prescription drugs that have led to rising ICU admissions, and even death.
Let people know what you’ve taken
If you run into difficulties and suffer adverse effects, it’s important to let those around you know what you believe you’ve taken. If medical assistance is needed, it’s important they have as much information as possible to know how to treat you.
Using two or more drugs, particularly a combination of uppers and downers, can increase your risk of overdose and put untold stress on your body.
Plan your night
If you plan to use drugs at a party, know how you’ll get home. Also, have a plan for how often you’ll take your chosen drug, and choose a sensible time space based on your tolerance. When under the influence, it’s easier to take more of a substance, and too often. Set an alarm if that helps, monitor how you feel when the phone alarm rings.
Drugs are unpredictable
The unregulated nature of the market means what you think you’re getting, could be something quite different and potentially toxic.
Sip half a pint to a pint of water every hour, during your session.
Benzos are sedative drugs that have been increasingly prescribed by doctors to help with insomnia or anxiety.
Even real Benzodiazapenes can lead to dependency if they are used for any longer than 4 weeks. Worryingly, we are seeing unregulated versions of these drugs being sold online, leading to ICU admissions and even death in some cases. It’s possible to overdose from Benzos, especially if you drink alcohol whilst using them.
Don’t mix Benzos with anything else.
If you are using a Benzo like Diazepam, it’s important you don’t use any other substances, or drink alcohol, at the same time. Avoid using other sedatives like Xanax at the same time.
Dependency and Withdrawal
If you are using Benzodiazepines that have not been prescribed to you, or are using more than you should, you could benefit from clinical support. Try to confide in someone you trust about what’s going on. If you have been taking benzos regularly for a long period of time, it could be dangerous to stop suddenly.
If you suffer with the following withdrawal symptoms, seek medical advice and support.
- Sickness and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- Feelings of panic and anxiety
- Tingling sensations
- Confusion and brain fog
7 out of 10 people who go into treatment for cocaine problems, either stop completely or reduce consumption within six months.
Treatment for addiction to cocaine and other stimulants is completely different than for heroin. There are no effective substitute drugs for a patient who is dependent on cocaine. Some medications might be prescribed as part of treatment, but they will be for symptoms related to withdrawal.
Kaleidoscope offers free and confidential advice and support on an in-house or outreach basis.
The risks associated with cocaine use can often be:
- Constricted blood vessels
- Increased temperature
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Risk of cardiac arrest and seizure
In addition to the above, crack users may experience acute respiratory problems:
- Shortness of breath
- Lung trauma and bleeding
Smoking crack cocaine can cause aggressive and paranoid behaviour.
The Dangers of Cocaethylene
If you take cocaine and drink alcohol at the same time you produce cocaethylene. This intensifies the eurphoric effects of cocaine. Cocaethylene is linked to a significantly greater risk of sudden death, compared to cocaine alone.
Things to remember
- Do not share notes as this will increase the risk of blood borne viruses
- Alternate nostrils
- Clean nostrils by snorting a small amount of fresh water from your hand
- Never share any paraphernalia
- Rotate sites
- Always use clean works
- Do not share pipes
- Use lip balm to avoid cracked or chapped lips to reduce the risk ob blood borne viruses
- Burn off gauze before use to rid it of any toxins
- Avoid using can pipes due to toxins in aluminium
- If using a glass pipe, allow time between hits for glass to cool down
- Try eating something before use due to loss of appetite after use
Cannabis, what’s the harm?
Cannabis is not a physically addictive drug. However, psychological addiction can develop. People who use cannabis often cite needing it to help them relax, concentrate or sleep. Many cannabis users also smoke tabacco with their cannabis, so addiction to nicotine can often be mistaken for an addiction to cannabis.
Cannabis and tobacco smoke are both highly carcinogenic. A cardboard roach is often used meaning more toxins are ingested.
There are a number of risks including:
- Respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis
- Increased chance of throat, lung and mouth cancer
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Poor short-term memory
- Disputed impact on psychological health
The harm can be reduced by doing the following:
- Not sharing a joint, pipe or bong.
- Using thin cigarette papers for rolling joints.
- Using as little tobacco as possible.
- Not bingeing on sugary things when you get hungry.
- Avoiding smoking first thing in the morning if you feel unmotivated after smoking cannabis.
- Using as little cannabis as possible. Cannabis burns at a higher temperature than tobacco so much of it is wasted in an overpacked joint.
Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
Fentanyl and carfentanil are extremely powerful opiates. It is impossible to tell whether heroin has been mixed with Fentanyl by looking at it. However there are some measures you can take to lessen your risk.
- Do not use alone. Ideally, use with someone, and make sure they have Naloxone.
- Smoke a small amount on foil before injecting.
- Depress the plunger slowly, pausing to allow the familiar dose to take effect. If it seems unusually potent, pull it out.
This video gives you a step by step guide on how to assemble and administer a Prenoxad Naloxone injection. Following these steps could save your loved one’s life in an opiate overdose event.