Know the risks.
If you knew the recipe, would you still take the risk?
Drug dealers don’t care about your health, they only care about making a profit. This means that drugs may be cut with unpleasant substances to add extra bulk, or to make them cheaper to produce.
These extra ingredients can include (but aren’t limited to): laxatives, boric acid, baking powder, worming tablets, benzocaine, caffeine, powdered milk, PMA (a substance that creates similar effects to MDMA but that is much more toxic), amphetamines, paracetamol, creatine, laundry detergent and hairspray. Add to this the fact that drugs are often handled by a whole chain of people, each adding their own extra ingredients into the mix to increase their profits, and what emerges can be a potentially deadly cocktail.
If you had a food allergy, you wouldn’t eat something before checking the ingredients first; the same logic should be applied to drugs. You (or your friends, or even your dealer) have no way of knowing exactly what goes into drugs before they’re sold to you – if you can’t see the recipe, don’t take the risk.
For accessible, objective and comprehensive guides designed to help reduce the short and long term harms of drugs, visit Drugsand.me. For more information about different drugs and the substances they can be cut with, check out Talk To Frank’s A-Z of drugs.
Know the signs.
Have you gone from trying it to relying on it?
If you’ve gone from taking drugs occasionally on a night out to using them more regularly in your daily life, it may mean that you are developing a drug problem – without even realising it.
There are many signs that your drug use may be problematic. Finding yourself thinking about drugs a lot, feeling like you have to use drugs regularly, or taking drugs to help cope with negative thoughts, emotions or other pressures can all be indicators that you are developing a problem with drugs.
Other signs can include (but aren’t limited to): cutting back on social or work obligations because of drugs; a negative impact on personal relationships; spending money on drugs even though you can’t afford it; experiencing withdrawal symptoms; and using drugs to cope with the ‘come down’ from previous drug use. Physically, you may feel drained, have difficulty sleeping and experience changes in appetite. You might also experience mood swings, difficulty focussing, anxiety, paranoia and/or depression.
If your drug use has increased and you’re experiencing any of the above signs, it’s important that you seek help as soon as you can. Visit the Sheffield DACT website for details on how to get support in Sheffield, or phone 0114 272 1481 to speak to somebody (if you choose, this support can be anonymous). If you want to speak to someone in person, Sheffield DACT also have a walk-in centre at 44 Sidney Street, S1 4RH.
You can also use the confidential Talk To Frank service (tel: 0300 123 6600) if you need someone to talk to. Additionally, the NHS website has lots of information on problematic drug use, including common signs and where to find help.
Know there is help.
If someone was in too deep, could you help them resurface?
Bloodshot eyes? Abrupt weight changes? Becoming withdrawn and isolated? Sudden mood swings or angry outbursts? An unexplained change in habits or personality? No longer engaging in hobbies or university?
If this sounds like someone you know, they could be suffering from drug dependency or addiction. Wanting to help is understandable, but confronting someone who is struggling with addiction can be difficult, especially if they don’t think (or don’t want to admit) that they have a problem. You might want to help, but you also might not know where to start.
Fortunately, you do not have to help someone through their addiction alone. Sheffield DACT (tel: 0114 272 1481) is a good first point of call for help and advice. Local services also offer a friends and families support group for anyone who is concerned about someone else’s drug or alcohol use. The group is a confidential and informal space, and meets every other Wednesday at a central Sheffield location. You can find more information about this group on the Sheffield DACT website.
Talk To Frank is a confidential service that can provide you with more information on drug use and advice about local support services. You can call them on 0300 123 6600 or find more information on what to do if you’re worried about a friend’s drug use on the Talk To Frank website. You can also find further advice and support service details on the NHS website.