Tips for Reducing the Risk of Harm from Substance Use
Any substance use comes with the risk of potential harm, we all think it will never happen to us, but it does happen to some people. It is good to be well-informed.
Tips to help reduce some of the risks associated with using substances
- Eat and drink water before and during substance use.
- Be cautious if you’re offered drugs or other substances.
- Know your dealer rather than buying from a stranger. Keep in mind that even your dealer may not know where the drug came from or its ingredients.
- Research substances before trying them. It is important to know that many substances – not just heroin or fentanyl – can be contaminated and have lethal effects.
- Plan ahead. Plan your drug use rather than using them spontaneously.
- Check out this infographic on what you need to know to keep you and your friends safe
If you’re using:
- Go slow. Take a small amount and wait to see what effect it has on you.
- Don’t use alone. Be sure you are with people you trust, and who know what to do in an emergency.
- How you use the drug changes the potency. Smoking and injection act quickly while ingestion acts slowly and can lead to an accidental overdose.
- Watch how other people behave but remember that not everyone responds in the same way.
- Use in moderation.
- Don’t share needles, pipes, or any other equipment with anyone.
- Don’t drive while under the influence.
- Don’t mix. Avoid using different substances (including alcohol) at the same time. Check out drugcocktails.ca for more information on mixing medicine, alcohol and drugs
- Combining antidepressants and MDMA can cause serotonin syndrome. Signs of serotonin syndrome include very high fever, sickness, dangerously high blood pressure, heart problems and can result in death.
- Diazepam and opioids are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which means they slow the brain. Mixing diazepam with opioids may cause slowed breathing, and even death.
- Take a break once in a while from your drug use.
- Talk to someone you trust. Whether it’s a friend, family member, teacher, coach or reaching out to someone who has been there like a Peer Support worker, it can be helpful to talk through what you’re feeling. Not sure where to start? Check out our Tips for Talking with Someone and 8 Easy Tips for Venting to Friends.
- Learn how to recognize the signs and respond to an overdose.
- Consider getting trained to use a naloxone kit. Online training is available from Towards the Heart.
For more self-care options check out the Apps & Tools section. Sometimes help from a professional is needed, check out the Get Support section.