YOU take the drugs So find out how to make sure they don’t get the better of you.
In this section we introduce you to concepts like drug tolerance and cover general information about drugs and how they can affect you like why you should never re-dose, ways to avoid getting bad drugs and substance abuse. We really encourage you to read on and provide you with links and references to make up your own mind on the issue. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any top tips to share/important information you think should really be present on this page. Stay safe.
Getting them Don't get conned
You've set your heart on a drug, here's about gettting it to ensure a maximal chance of getting what you asked for.
It’s best to get your drugs ahead of time to avoid rash decisions and buying from random unknown suppliers.
Know your supplier
If you’ve never bought from them yourself, at least make sure they come recommended from someone you know. The optimum scenario is buying from a tried and tested supplier; be wary of new sources. It just means that you’re less likely to be ripped off be it quantity or quality/purity wise. This also means that you should be careful of how much you take with a new supplier as outlined in the dosing section.
If you are unsure about your supplier, always test your drugs.
Know the product
Get an idea of what the product looks like, talk to friends, visit our page on the drug, use resources like google images so that you can make a preliminary assessment of the drug upon purchase and be able to know if you’re being sold tea instead of cannabis.
Know the price
Get a handle on current prices, again using peers and online resources so that you know vaguely what to expect. Too much drugs for too little money is just as suspicious as too little.
Taking them Truth or myth?
There are many different ways to take drugs from the most notorious like ingestion (e.g. drinking alcohol, pills, cannabis edibles) and snorting (e.g. cocaine) or more obscure and wacky ideas like putting strong spirits in your eyeball. It is important to remember that some are very much more dangerous than others, and not always from direct effect of the drug. Nicotine, for example, is not necessarily a very dangerous compound but the act of smoking is highly linked to consequences like lung cancer and erectile dysfunction. The way a drug is taken will affect the speed with which it will reach your nervous system and produce its effects as shown in the graph below.
When drugs reach your brain very quickly, producing an intense high, and then dissipate quickly, they leave a powerful need to consume more. This happens typically when smoking crack cocaine which is extremely addictive.
The demanding reader can find the NIDA report on the correlations between how fast drugs act and abuse and addiction right here.
We strongly recommend avoiding the most potent modes of administration such as injection which carries added risks such as infection and blood vessel damage. It is also the easiest way to overdose.
Dosing How much? / Less is more
Due to our unique genetic makeup everyone reacts slightly differently to drugs but there are some simple rules you can follow to lessen your chances of overdosing.
There are no set doses
Age, weight, gender, ethnic background and even how tired you are all play a part in drug metabolism. You wouldn’t expect a frail elderly lady to win a shot competition against a fit young man. Your friend’s dose may not be the right one for you. Try titration dosing, it’s worth the effort. Doctors do it all the time: they start by prescribing a low dose and slowly increase it to find the sweet spot when the drug is most effective while minimising side-effects. The drug profiles will contain more specific information.
Find out why less is often more when dosing for pleasure
Be careful with suppliers
If you’re taking ecstasy for example, which comes in pills, the dosage per pill can vary wildly so it’s best to take a lower dose than usual to make sure you don’t accidentally overdose.
Stick to one dose. Either it’s not working or you just don’t realise you’re high. If it doesn’t work then it is most likely due to the drug being cut with potentially harmful products in which case you really don’t want to take any more of it and should consider changing supplier.
Read the British Medical Journal case report on the effects of the use of levamisole as an adulterant in cocaine (a de-wormer)
If you simply don’t realise that you’re high re-dosing can make you overdose. Even if it doesn’t it could tip you over the edge in a bad way, resulting in a bad trip and a terrible hangover. If other people have had the same batch, look around to see if they look high, if so it’s very unlikely that there was a lone pill in that batch that was bad.
Remember drugs aren’t instantaneous, re-dosing because you were too impatient is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
Avoid mixing drugs
Just like your doctor takes great care when prescribing you multiple drugs to avoid ones that interact with each other in negative ways, so should you be careful of taking more than one recreational drug at a time. Bear in mind that not only could they react together in a bad way and produce more long term health consequences but this is also a way to overdose without realising. Have a look at our interactive drug interactions charts on the individual drug pages.
Also consider the prescription drugs you take as they could also interact and produce negative effects although this is sadly under-studied.
Tolerance More is less
Tolerance is intricately linked to dosing. It arises from repeated consumption of a drug or similar alternatives. Your body develops a resistance to the compound. This means that with regular use you start to require a higher dose of the drug to elicit the same effect.
Because it is associated with regular use, tolerance is used as one of many criterion for substance abuse so if you think you are becoming tolerant to a drug have a visit of our addiction and substance abuse section to assess whether you are in control of your drug use. Even if you are in control it will be educational and help you detect substance abuse in others.
On the flip side it means that your tolerance decreases when you discontinue use of the drug. This means that if you haven’t used a drug in a long while that you used to take regularly you need to take a lower dose than usual or you will run the risk of an overdose or a bad trip. Again, titration dosing is your friend as outlined in the dosing section.
Tachyphylaxis is a special kind of tolerance which appears very rapidly after a single dose or a series of small doses. It happens with drugs like psilocybin or LSD and means that for a while you are extremely tolerant to the drug. In effect this means that you can’t trip from mushrooms two days in a row but will be completely back to normal after a little while. This will be explained in more detail in the relevant drug sections.
Substance abuse and addiction The scary bit
A large proportion of the population consumes psychoactive substances. On the other hand a much smaller proportion has substance abuse problems. These occur when the use of drugs becomes harmful to the user and/or those around them. For example many people drink alcohol but only so many are alcoholics: their drug use becomes self-destructive.
Addiction is often confused with substance abuse but is actually only a symptom of it. It consists in compulsive drug use. The brain’s reward pathway is hijacked by drugs meaning that repetitive use can make it extremely hard for the user to resist the temptation to use, even in situations when it would be harmful, which leads to substance abuse.
It is not related to personality or maturity, anyone can fall into addiction. It is quite hard to notice in oneself and that’s why the more people are informed about it the higher chance they may be able to detect it in friends and family and help them.
It’s important that the myth of instant addiction be debunked. It is emerging that addiction is not so much related to the actual chemicals being consumed but rather to environment: both mental and physical. Studies have shown that even though the morphine that patients receive in hospital is much stronger than that on the streets, it doesn’t seem to cause addiction.
Unhealthy environments and bad habits can both lead to substance abuse. This can be anywhere from a warzone (soldiers in Vietnam used a lot of heroin) to tough estates or simply loneliness.
Be careful of your drug habits. If you notice you can’t stop taking drugs even though they are having a very negative impact on your life (e.g. missing work to get high) or if you start taking drugs too often, to forget things that make you unhappy, just to pass the time or simply can’t stop, you may have a problem. Don’t rely on drugs to get you over a bad day, this is how it becomes your coping mechanism and you experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms making it very hard to limit or stop your drug use.
The graph below is an attempt at measuring how harmful a drug is. The vertical axis is a scale of the dependence potential of a drug from 1 to 10, with 1 being the least. The horizontal axis measure the ratio of active dose (amount to get high) on lethal dose (amount that will kill you). In effect, the closer that number is to one the closer the active dose is to the lethal one meaning it is easier to overdose. Cannabis in light apple green, on the far left, has a very low active to lethal ratio meaning it is very safe in that respect but does still have a relatively high dependence ratio of 4.3.
If you think that you may be addicted to a substance, or know of someone, please check the links below. Seeking help is the best option, do not be afraid to refer others if you think they may not be in control anymore.
Watch this video by Kurzgesagt explaining some of these topics in more detail.
Legality The fine print
Recreational drugs tend to be illegal around the world, so be careful! Their legal status can however vary widely across the world so read up on the legislation in your corner of the globe.
Alcohol was notably illegal in the early 1900s in the USA during prohibition, it is now legal there but only for people aged over 21 whereas in the UK it is legal from age 18. Cannabis is becoming legal for medical and recreational use in various regions of the world.
Learn about the fascinating role a housewife and the innocuous McDonalds stirrer spoon had in propelling the War on Drugs to even greater heights in the 1970s.
Humans have consumed drugs for millennia; this is backed up by historical evidence and it is intrinsic to our nature. The first example of drug prohibition seems to date all the way back to Islamic Sharia law but it may very well have been present even earlier than that.
Drug legislation remains very tied to political agendas, be they economic, religious or other. Scientific evidence for reform of drug policy is nonetheless slowly being listened to and the failure of the war on drugs is coming to light leading to progressive legislation being tried out. Each country has individual historical, social and political reasons behind their current policies and these will most certainly remain ingrained in people minds for the foreseeable future and embed themselves into all major decisions made on these fronts.
Drugs and me endeavours to be a proponent for change but our real mission here is to encourage harm reduction. Providing reliable, verified and concise information on drugs to promote healthy use. We’d love to see legislation change to provide correct help for people in situations of substance abuse but in the meantime we’re here to do our best to help you avoid that.
We always encourage you to read on further and here is no different, this is an issue where there is no right or wrong answer and we really want you to form your own opinion on this matter and contribute to the debate. Check the links below for more information on drug legislation and its history and definitely have a check of our friends over at Volteface.