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Substance Use and Drugs

Getting help

The best thing for your health and well-being is to stop substance use completely but this is really hard for many men. Even if are unable to stop all at once, there are still steps you can take to reduce your risk.

1. Learn to identify addiction and drug dependency. The first step to getting help for your substance use is recognizing that you may have developed a dependency to the substances you are using. Here are some important signs to look out for:

  • You crave the drug and are constantly thinking about getting more of it
  • You experience physical or mental withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it
  • You may notice that using the drug has started to interfere with your professional or personal life and its causing problems with your relationships
  • You keep using the drug even though it's causing negative consequences for you.

2. If you inject drugs, use clean tools when you are using and do not share used needles.

  • HIV is transmitted very easily when sharing needles for injection drug use. Your risk will be lower if you using clean equipment when injection and if you don’t inject using other people’s needles.

3. Find HIV prevention tools that work best for you.

  • Keep condoms and lubricant with you if you engage in sex when you are using substances.
  • If you can’t use condoms, check with your local organizations to see if PrEP is accessed in your community.
  • Figure out where you can access P.E.P before you need. This way, if you find that you have been exposed, through injection equipment or unprotected sex, then you can quickly access P.E.P quickly after your exposure.

4. Avoid mixing substances together

  • Mixing substances together can have a negative and dangerous side effect. Limiting your substance use to one type per session can reduce your exposure to these side effects and HIV.

5. Lower your exposure to people or spaces that trigger your drug use.

  • You can try avoiding or lowering how often you visit certain venues or party with friends if they tend to lead you to substance use.  

6. Set a goal for yourself

  • If you have decided to change how you use substances, then set a specific goal for what you want that change to be. This will give you something to work towards.
  • Its normal to set a goal of changing your substance use and then it gets broken. Changing substance use is hard and can take multiple tries to get it right. Having a goal to work towards can be useful because it will help you get back on track in case you missed it the first time around.

Get Supporting

  • Stopping substance use or changing your substance use behaviour is really hard and you shouldn’t need to go through it alone.
  • Speak to a close friend so they are aware of your feelings and can help support you through this process.
  • You can also check in with your local organizations to find referrals to counselling or other services.
  • It may be easier for you to speak with a healthcare worker if you feel like you have a problem with a legal recreational substance like Alcohol. If you are using a substance that is illegal, you may feel less comfortable speaking to a health care worker about it. If that is the case, try contacting one of your local organizations and see if they can refer you to a friendly service provider.