Problematic Drug Use
'Problematic' drug use is when you become dependent upon a drug and cannot function properly without it, or it starts negatively impacting areas of your personal life such as finances, sex or relationships.
It might be time to stop if any of the following apply to you:
- You use more than you planned and for longer
- You feel guilty about your drug use
- You need to take or drink more and more to get the same effect
- You spend a lot of time looking for and taking drugs
- You can't enjoy clubbing or sex without drugs.
You stand a better chance of controlling your drug or alcohol use if you first think about what you do and why, and the ups and downs of your drug use. It can be hard to change but there are plenty of places you can get help from.
Here are 10 achievable steps to help you move away from problematic drug use:
- Make a note of when, where and why you take drugs (and who with).
- Ask friends for help, e.g. not to offer or use drugs or talk about them in front of you.
- Set yourself small, achievable goals and accept that any change will come one step at a time.
- Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms (trouble sleeping, irritability, boredom, mood swings) - these will ease over time.
- Get rid of drugs and drug-related objects - having them around can act as a trigger to use. If cutting down, put them out of easy reach.
- Avoid things that trigger your use (states of mind, places, people, objects, types of sex etc).
- Stay busy - boredom is your biggest enemy. Overcome it with anything not linked to drugs (exercise, hobbies, shopping, family, friends who do not use drugs).
- Stay active - exercise (swimming, walking, and gym) gives you a natural high (endorphins), relieves boredom, gives you energy and boosts the immune system.
- Take care of your body - you need sleep, healthy food and to avoid stimulants like caffeine, cola and energy drinks.
- Get support - you don't have to do it on your own. Ask at your clinic for a counselling referral.
It is also worth remembering that, while not illegal, drinking alcohol and smoking to excess can also have serious health implications.
Being HIV positive means that your body needs a lot of help to support it. Cutting back - or quitting - smoking or drinking can be a very healthy step.