People take drugs for many reasons: to feel more confident, their friends are taking them, it’s part of a night out. Some people become addicted and can’t function without them. Some drugs, such as cocaine, can create a psychological dependence. Others are physically addictive and affect the body and some, like heroin, can be both physically and psychologically addictive.
Drugs that people have problems with come from a variety of sources: legal, illicit and illegal. How a drug is taken (swallowed, smoked, snorted or injected) and the amount consumed can increase the risk and health consequences. The environment - where a drug is taken – and the mindset of the individual before they take a substance are important.
- Injecting drugs and sharing injecting equipment and paraphernalia increases the risk of blood borne viruses (HIV, Hepatitis B and C).
- Injecting drugs increases the risk of overdose and death.
- Mixing any drugs with alcohol increases the risk of overdose and impairment.
- Some drugs are addictive and create dependency.
- Becoming addicted or dependent on drugs can cause people to get into debt and increase the risk of offending and involvement in the criminal justice system.
- If someone has been at risk through injecting or through unprotected sexual contact with someone who has, the sooner they are tested and access treatment the better. Patients should ask their GP for Hepatitis B immunisation.
- There are many treatment options available.
- There is a wide range of specialist support services for most drug issues including treatment, social support, debt counselling, housing advice and so on. There is support for drug users of all ages and for their families.