Harm minimisation is an encompassing term that applies to the practices and policies that aim to reduce the health risks associated with the ingestion of drugs and alcohol. There are separate minimisation procedures to address the social and economic risks, which we will cover in a future article.
It’s vital we as a society recognize that people will use and abuse drugs no matter how much information is available regarding the dangers of doing so. We should also accept that some people do not wish to be treated for drug abuse.
These steps exist to reduce the risk of ill health, overdose, or death.
Before you Take Drugs
Of course, abstaining from drugs is your safest way to avoid any risk. But, if you’re going to ingest any narcotic, consider the following:
1) Try to get plenty of rest before a session. Drink a lot of fluid and ensure you’ve eaten a good meal. Drugs inhibit your natural hunger pains; they also dehydrate you and keep you up. You’ll lessen these effects by ensuring you’ve slept, eaten, and drank enough before you start.
2) Don’t be alone; drugs are always safer when done together. Be with someone you can trust and can talk to. Ideally, you want to be around someone who won’t judge you as this can and will affect a trip.
3) Some substances can increase your libido while making it harder for you to cum. This can lead to longer-lasting sex, which in itself is a health risk. So, keep some condoms handy as well as lubricant.
4) Know who you’re buying from. Know exactly what it is you’re buying and how much it should cost. If this is the first time you’re using this dealer, ask lots of questions about the drug, having an idea ahead of time what it should look, taste, and smell like.
While You’re Taking Drugs
You’ve drunk plenty of water, you’ve eaten, and you’ve got a spare condom in case things go really well. You’re in a comfortable setting with someone you trust, so now it’s time to pop your pill or chop your line. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1) Some drugs take longer to react in your system than others. If you aren’t feeling it after 30 minutes, wait for another 30. And then another. If you’re still feeling nothing, you’ve probably been sold a dud. Go for a walk, rather a dud than something laced with who knows what.
2) Start slow and low, particularly if this is a drug you’re unfamiliar with or bought from an unknown source. You can always take more, but you can’t undo it once it’s done. So be patient. If half the amount does enough, congratulations, you’ve still got half for another time.
3) Drink water. Avoid drinks with a lot of sugar or anything with caffeine. A green tea is also good. If you’re feeling drowsy, then try something a little sweeter. Avoid alcohol entirely (more on that later).
4) Stay together, don’t wander off or let a friend do the same. Don’t drive. Keep communicating. If you start to feel overwhelmed, talk about your favourite movie or the football results. If someone’s feeling down, then try to cheer them up. If someone’s getting aggressive, then they’re having a bad reaction. Speaking of which:
5) If things are not going well, then call an ambulance. If you start to feel seriously unwell, or the person you’re with starts going off the deep end, then play it safe and call for help. Paramedics aren’t there to judge you; they’re there to help and have ways of making you feel better. Remember, a lot of drugs work in waves. You can feel everything all at once and then nothing at all. So, if you can, try to ride it out. But if the ride won’t end, then call an ambulance to come bail you out.
There are also multiple “trip stopper” capsules available online. They’re made up of Dextro and Valerian which are chemicals that help you relax and bring the edge off a trip. If you’re concerned about getting too high, keep a few of these handy.
When You’re Coming Down
The problem with many drugs is they’re really fun, and then they’re really not. The reason it’s called “getting high” is because eventually, you need to come down again.
1) Don’t take any more drugs. This could lead to an overdose. If your drugs are finished, you need to make peace with it.
2) Ensure you’re somewhere comfortable. Coming down in a loud environment with a lot of distractions can and will make you feel worse. Have a hot shower to help your skink recover.
3) Coming down can make you quite depressed. Know that you’re feeling this way because your body is flushing out toxins. That being said, if your depression is getting worse and you’re feeling down, then phone a professional or mental health service as soon as you can.
4) Make sure you eat enough. Some food can help ease the symptoms of a come down, eating healthy foods can replace some of the nutrients you may of lost. Tryptophan is an ingredient found in many food like eggs and tuna. It’s an amino acid that’s later converted into serotonin and may be exactly what you need. Marmite is rich in tryptophanSome people say orange juice is great for an MDMA come down as the vitamin C helps reduce the wear and tear on your brain. It’s synthesis of serotonin is great , so drinking orange juice before and after doing MDMA can shorten the comedown. Nuts and bananas are great at replenishing nutrients lost during a coke or ket binge. If you’ve got any dehydration stoppers like hydrolytes then dissolve some in water and keep close as you come down.
5) Get some fresh air if you feel in a daze. A walk can assist with sweating out any toxins that remain and help you get some sleep afterwards.
6) Take a warm bath or shower and work on your breathing, try and clear your mind to prepare you to sleep. Your body needs rest to help it recover, the best way to give it the time it needs is to try and sleep, ensuring you’ve had something to eat before you do. You should feel better once you’re up.
Mixing Drugs and Other Substances
Yeah, don’t do that.
Unless you’re prescribed a drug from a doctor, there’s no way of knowing how your body will react if it’s under the influence of one substance and then you add another. So many overdoses occur because the victim took a substance that mixed terribly with another. Cocaine and alcohol are incredibly dangerous when mixed, as are anti-depressants and opioids. Painkillers mixed with cocaine or amphetamines combined with painkillers. These are all dangerous things to mix. If you’re on medication, research your medication name + the drug you’re about to take. It’s worth knowing.
If you’re on something, then stay on that. Taking something as innocuous as a headache pill while you’re coming down off MDMA may be the worst decision you ever make.
A Safer Way
Drugs can be smoked, sniffed, swallowed, and syringed. Each brings with it a risk, as well as a safer way to do it.
A Safer Way to Swallow
Some drugs that you eat or drink are caustic, meaning they can erode the tissue in your throat or stomach. Try and distil powder in water, or put it in a capsule. Maybe swallow it with paper.
A Safer Way to Smoke
Don’t share pipes or papers with people you don’t know. If you’re smoking from foil, use tinfoil over foil from sweet wrappers as it can be covered in other substances. Use a pipe screen, and rather smoke from glass pipes over plastic bottles. They do a better job of filtering out ash and water. Clean your pipes regularly.
A Safer Way to Inject
Don’t share a needle with anyone, ever. That goes as well for spoons and filters. Rotate your injection sites and ensure any wounds are treated and covered with plasters and anti-bacterial gel. If your injection site starts turning red or getting itchy, you may be having an allergic reaction and should seek medical attention. Always dispose of needles safely. Research needle exchange sites in your area, which should be accessible if you live in a city.
A Safer Way to Snort
Use cleans straws over banknotes, as they’re usually covered in germs. Don’t share your snorting device, and alternate nostrils to share the load. Snort as high up as possible to lessen the wear on your nasal tissue, and if your nose starts to bleed, then it’s time to stop.
How EZ Tests work as part of Harm Minimisation
We realise that unregulated recreational drugs need to be tested to know what you have bought is what you think it is. The reality is that you are going to take it anyway, so you may as well test it. EZ Test also has a range of tests that can test the Purity of a substance like MDMA and Cocaine; we also have packs that can do a more thorough test on a substance. Click here for the full range of EZ Test kits.