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What is safer drug use?

Reducing drug harm and risk

Drugs harm reduction | MENRUS.CO.UKThe basics

  • Use recreational drugs consciously not casually
  • Check out and learn about individual drugs at DRUGS A-Z | MEN R US
  • Be aware of your vulnerability to dependency and addiction
  • The more you like it the longer you should wait to do it again
  • Regularly test your ability to stop using by taking a break for a week or two, or a month
  • Keep an eye on developing patterns and ask for help before there's a problem, even if it's just a chat with friend

Basic harm reduction | Release


  • Most recreational drugs are illegal and often carry heavy penalties for possession, using, and selling or buying. So, don't share or deal openly, or get twatted in public.

Drugs and the law | Release

Mixing and tolerance

  • Using drugs involves risks and taking more or mixing drugs increases the risks. Don’t take more drugs than you need – give them about an hour before taking more.
  • Mixing drugs (particularly with alcohol) may make the effects of other drugs seem different or weak, which could lead to you taking too much, and some drug combinations are deadly.
  • We quickly develop tolerance to party drugs and our bodies will appreciate the chance of a break to recover. You’ll get more out of your drugs if you don’t take them every week.

Safer injecting

  • Use your own injecting kit and do not share needles, syringes.

Safer injecting | MEN R U S

Calling 999

  • Wherever you are, if someone gets ill and you have to call an ambulance, don’t mess about. Be sure to tell the medics what’s been going on. Don’t be afraid; it could save a life – may be yours!


  • If you’re taking a prescribed medicine, it’s only sensible that your drugs don’t mess that up. It’s important not to miss or change doses set by your doctor, particularly with HIV and Hepatitis C medication. You may also find it helpful to use the HIV drug interaction checker, a rather cool tool from the University of Liverpool.

HIV Drug Interaction Checker | University of Liverpool

Be prepared: clubbing, partying and chillouts

  • There is no shame in taking a ‘disco-nap’ before going out
  • Eat something: something high in carbohydrates for energy (eg: pasta) and vitamin-packed (such as fresh fruit and veg) will help prepare your body
  • Wear lightweight (non-nylon) clothes, don’t wear hats or caps and, if you can, take warmer clothing/ change of clothes with you for when you leave
  • Clubs can get very crowded and extremely hot. This can cause you problems like dehydration, serious over-heating, and heat exhaustion – all of which are dangerous. Sweating is how bodies keep cool and stop hypothermia, so drink non-alcoholic sugary drinks to replace lost fluids
  • Take regular chill-out breaks to help avoid over-heating and dehydration
  • Sip about a pint of water per hour (but don’t go mad)
  • Try to avoid alcohol which will only dehydrate you more and NEVER mix G with alcohol
  • When you're ready for sleep, drink something sugary and eat something salty. However much you don’t feel like it, eating helps to start replacing all those lost salts and minerals
  • It's all very well going to someone's place, particularly if you've not been there before, but do you know the way out?
  • Be aware that drinks could be spiked
  • Be prepared to take a taxi home (or back to civilisation) and that includes having a card that works or cash in your pocket. It may sound a little old-fashioned but the consensus at MEN R US is a £20 note tucked in the back of a wallet
  • While we're talking old fashioned ... it can still be a good idea to tell a mate where you're going just in case things go wrong

Sex and drugs

  • Drugs and alcohol have a pain-killing effect so you may not be aware of damage being done to your body, particularly your cock and arse
  • Dehydration and raised temperature make delicate skin more likely to tear and bleed. Snorting or dabbing speed or coke, and chewing gum all night, can cause ulcers and bleeding in your mouth, which may increase the risks of infection
  • Drugs and alcohol can alter your perception of risk and can make you less able to get the sex you want. When you're mashed up it can be difficult to be assertive, to say no, or to insist on condoms

Guerrilla public health | Harry Shapiro | Wellcome Collection | 21 Nov 2017
Saying no doesn't always work, and many people who use illegal drugs just want non-judgemental help and advice. From safe-use graphic guides, to safe places to exchange needles, this is a potted (and sometimes controversial) history of drug harm reduction in the UK from the 1980s on.

Moving Beyond 'People-First' Language: A glossary of contested terms in substance use | SDF Scotland | Sep 2020
Drug harms in the UK: a multi-criteria decision analysis | David J Nutt, Leslie A King, Lawrence D Phillips/ Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs
What is harm reduction? | Harm reduction International
Addictive properties of popular drugs |

The Dog | MEN R US | 2017 | 34s

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