Everyone's relationship with substances is different. Sometimes, using substances might not turn out to be as helpful or enjoyable as you thought it would. Maybe you didn’t like the way it made you feel, maybe you had a bad trip and wanted it to end sooner, or maybe you’ve experienced an overdose.
Reflecting on when and why you turn to substances might help you better understand the deeper emotions that could be contributing to negative experiences with substance use. Some folks might change how often they use substances, how much, or maybe they stop altogether. Whatever path you decide is best for yourself is valid.
There are lots of people dying from overdose-related deaths at really high rates. Opioid drugs are talked about more these days because lots of folks use them for managing their physical pain, trauma, mental health, and more.
It's common for cocaine, crack, and opioids to be contaminated with other substances and fillers. Fentanyl is an opioid drug that needs to be diluted before you use it because it's very strong on its own. But since the street supply is so unpredictable, new contaminants are being identified all the time. Lately, there's been a rise in overdoses from benzodiazepine contamination found in the fentanyl supply. This could change to something else in the future.
Some organizations and community centres offer drug testing services that folks use to check their substances before they use them. These services can determine if your drugs are cut with anything, and if so, with what. They're also not specific to downers – you can bring other substances, like stimulants and hallucinogens, to be tested, too. Getting your supply tested before you use or share can be a way of taking care of your health, well-being, and safety.
If you’ve heard about opioids, you might’ve also heard about naloxone. Naloxone is a fast-acting drug that’s used to temporarily reverse opioid overdoses. It can return a person’s breathing in 2-5 minutes after it’s been given and lasts for about 20-90 minutes. While naloxone only works on substances that contain opioids, it’s still worth administering even when you’re not sure what the person may be overdosing on. Naloxone’s only effect is reversing opioid overdoses, so nothing else will happen if it's given multiple times, or if the person is overdosing from benzos, or another substance, and not from opioids. When in doubt, use naloxone!
Naloxone comes in two forms – a nasal spray or an intramuscular injection. In Canada, we can get naloxone at most pharmacies! 🙌 All you need to do is to provide your health card. If you don’t have a health card, check out the local public health units, community centres, or harm reduction groups in your area – they can provide you with free naloxone, as well as info and resources!