Growing up, you probably heard a lot of information about drugs. With different people telling you different things, this information can often be confusing. We won’t tell you that drugs are good or bad, and we won’t tell you whether you should do drugs or not. That’s a choice that you have to make for yourself. With the help of CSSDP, you can make sure it’s an educated choice. You can use information sourced by CSSDP as a resource to learn the honest facts about drugs and to help you when making decisions about drugs in your life, or help your friends with their questions.
If you choose to use drugs you will find useful information about the risks you face as well as ways to limit or control some of those risks.
If you choose not to use drugs you will find useful information about drugs that you can pass on when someone you know is making choices about their own drug use, to help them make safer and more responsible decisions.
First, take a minute to think about what a drug is:
- A drug is any substance (other than food) which changes the way the body or mind functions
- Drugs may or may not have medicinal properties or purposes
- Drugs can come from plants or be made in labs, most are a little of both.
- Drugs can be legal, illegal, helpful or harmful
There are all sorts of drugs that are available to use – legally as well as illegally – and each one effects our bodies and minds differently. Check out this list below:
- Cocaine and Crack Cocaine
- Crystal Meth
- Psilocybin Mushrooms
- Pharmaceuticals and Prescription Drugs
- Legal party pills
- Caffeine, Energy Drinks
Think about people’s choices when it comes to drug use.
Every person has his or her own motives and reasons for doing what they do, whether it’s drug use, sports, types of movies they like, who they hang out with…whatever! While some motives are common, there is no single explanation for the things individuals choose to do. Although some sources will tell you that using drugs is good or bad, there is no way we can make such statements when people use drugs for many different reasons. Before judging people based on whether they use drugs or not, think about some of the reasons people use drugs:
- Social reasons – Some people use drugs because it’s often a shared activity that makes them feel like part of a group. Some people also use drugs because they make them feel less inhibited, and more outgoing then they usually would.
- Pleasure/Euphoria – Some people enjoy the physical and psychological sensations they get from using drugs; drugs make them feel good or take away some of their pain.
- Mood Altering Effects – If a person is sad, depressed or stressed out, they may turn to drugs to forget their troubles. This works for a little while, but the problems usually do not disappear unless they are addressed directly.
- Rebellion – Some people, especially young people, use drugs as a form of rebellion, against their parents, teachers, or other authority figures, to prove how ‘bad’ they are, or that they know something about drugs that isn’t taught in school or by their parents.
- Curiousity – Some people try drugs because they are curious about them and what their effects might be.
- Boredom – Some people try drugs because they think they have nothing better to do.
- Religious/Spiritual Ritual – There are many groups and religions which use certain drugs as part of their ceremonies or rituals, often because they feel the drug brings them closer to their god(s) or deities, closer to themselves, or closer to each other.
- Medical reasons – Most people use legal drugs as medications at some point in their lives, but some of the illegal drugs listed on this website have been shown to have therapeutic properties, meaning that these illegal drugs are sometimes used for legitimate medical purposes, even though the user might face legal problems for doing so.
- Academic or Extracurricular Performance – Some people use drugs to improve their performance in sports, academics or other extracurricular activities.
- Sex – Some people use drugs in an attempt to change or improve their sexual experiences.
Depending on the person and the situation, each of the reasons above could be legitimate reasons to use drugs, or just excuses to misuse or abuse drugs. It’s up to each individual to look at their own choices and actions and decide for themselves.
No matter what choices someone make when it comes to drugs, keep in mind the things discussed above and try to understand a person’s choices before judging them. If you are concerned about a friend’s or family member’s choices, try to have an open conversation with them, and involve an adult if you want to or feel that you have to, but realize that what this person needs is your respect and support, not judgment.
If you choose to use, check where you’re at… Take a critical look at your own drug use.
If you’ve chosen to use drugs, you can limit or control many of the risks associated with it by thinking critically about your personal drug use, and making changes when you think they are necessary. If you keep an eye on yourself, it will be harder for your drug use to slip out of your own control.
Assessing your use: Take a look at this scale of drug use and think about where you fit in. You might not fit perfectly into one of these categories, but this is a rough scale to help you think about your drug use and the role it plays in your life.
- Non-User – people who choose to abstain from substance use
- Experimentation – people who have tried a substance only a few times, they are usually about to make the decision to return to being a non-user or to move on to being an occasional user or a social user.
- Occasional User – people who use drugs infrequently, usually for special occasions, and tend not to get overly intoxicated. Their drug use is not associated with life problems.
- Social User – people who use drugs only in social settings, as a part of socializing. Their drug use is not typically associated with life problems, and using drugs is not important to them in comparison with to other life activities and experiences.
- Instrumental User – people who use drugs more regularly with the intention of seeking pleasure or avoiding pain (physical or psychological).
- Habitual User – people who use drugs often or daily. For these people, drugs are beginning to create serious problems in one or more areas of their lives, but they still have some choice about using.
- Compulsive User – people who experience an overwhelming physical or psychological need to use drugs. These people experience no real choice about using drugs and often feels no control over the amount they use either. The compulsive user can be considered addicted.
- Binge User – people who use larger amounts of drugs with the goal of excessive intoxication on a sporadic basis with periods of little or no use in between. Binge use can be very problematic and is often associated with violence, hostility/aggressiveness, domestic/family problems, work/school problems, arrest and hospitalization.
Are you comfortable with your spot on the scale?
If your answer is yes, think about which point you would begin to feel uncomfortable at and what you can do to keep yourself from reaching that point. What are steps that you can take to avoid letting your drug use take over your life?
If your answer is no, think about why not and what steps you are willing to take to change that. If your drug use is causing problems in your life, if the risks you are taking outweigh the benefits you were seeking, if you’ve forgotten why you started using drugs in the first place, it might be time to think about adjusting your drug use.
You can use many of the resources listed in the Ask Questions, Find Help section as a starting point for tips and advice on how to further assess and change your drug use behaviours and habits. Even just talking to a friend, family member or someone else you trust can help put perspective on a situation that might seem overwhelming.
Remember, the only way to avoid all of the risks of drug use, including the social risks and the risks of dependence and addiction, is to avoid drug use altogether.