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Alcohol and other drugs - Looking after yourself
November 13th 2018 @ 7pm AEDT
Using alcohol and other drugs can be fun, but sometimes it can get out of hand. If your drug or alcohol use is starting to affect things that matter to you it can be a good idea to talk to someone about your options.
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:06 pm
Hello everyone and welcome to the group chat for today! My name is Rob and with me today we have eheadspace clinicians Lil, Paul, Shannon, and Celia.
Today’s topic will be around Alcohol and Drugs. Any questions or areas you wanted to explore with us, feel free to share.
We welcome all input from everyone present today, because the best way we can fully understand a topic and create further positive change is through engaging with different perspectives, ideas, thoughts, and experiences.
Paul
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:02 pm
Hi everyone, I’m Paul, thanks for coming on today great to be here on this important topic
Celia - eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:02 pm
Hi everyone, I'm Celia, great to chat with you all tonight :)
Jack Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:03 pm
Hi my name is Jack and I am a social work student at eheadspace, great to chat with you tonight
Chad Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:04 pm
Hello everyone, I'm a social work student at eheadspace too, and am excited to be chatting about this interesting topic tonight. :)
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:04 pm
Hey everyone! I’m Shannon, I’m one of the mental health clinicians from eheadspace. Looking forward to talking more about this topic :)
Lil eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:04 pm
Hi everyone! Welcome to eheadspace and I'm looking forward to chatting with you
Tom
Participant
13th Nov, 7:07 pm
Hi, I don’t really like drinking or anything like that, but when I hang out with my friends they drink and do other stuff. I feel like I shouldn’t be there, or sometimes feel like I should also drink if I am there. What should I do?
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:07 pm
Hey Tom! Thanks for the question - this is a really common experience that people have when they are around friends that drink or use drugs. Often when we are around our friends, we want to please them, and don’t want to feel excluded. Saying no to your friends, especially when it comes to drinking or using other drugs, can be really hard. In saying that, there are some things you can do to make it easier to say no.
One thing you can do is be prepared on how to say no. Some friends sometimes want an explanation, so you could try saying no in a way that does not come off judgemental like…”no, I’m not feeling too good” or “no, I’m trying to cut down”. It is also important to use positive body language, such as looking your friend in the eye (if that’s culturally appropriate). Have a look at this link - it has some more information on how to say no to a friend:
Chad Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:16 pm
It's also interesting to know what substances actually do to our brains and why they give the effects they do..
Here is a link to a video around what our brain does when we drink alcohol.
Terese
Participant
13th Nov, 7:16 pm
I noticed the other day when I had a joint with my mate that it made me feel really weird. I could sort of hear things that weren’t actually there, wasn't sure what was going on, sort of felt really uncomfortable and had to leave. It took me a long time to calm down and after that felt a bit off for a week. Is there something wrong with me?
Paul
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:16 pm
Hey Terese, thanks for sharing with us your experience.
Cannabis can have a varied effect on us. Not just because the weed itself can vary in its potency and general effect, but also the way it affects us can also vary between individuals with the same source of cannabis. For some, it does induce anxiety, paranoia, and even some temporary perceptual disturbances.
Obviously this was a more distressing experience, quite different from what people might expect to experience with cannabis. However, it isn’t that there is something wrong with you Terese. There can be many factors that contribute towards this experience.
Though it has felt drawn out, it is a temporary experience. Still, if you feel that this negative experience continues to affect you, seeking further help from a GP or a counsellor is definitely an option.
Chad Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:20 pm
Also Terese, if you check out this video, you can see what effects cannabis has on the brain, and maybe make sense of some of those feelings during and afterward.
Chantelle
Participant
13th Nov, 7:20 pm
i had a really really bad come down the other day. It had me feeling useless for 3 days straight. I couldnt go to work or even get out of bed at one point. How can i avoid this?
Celia - eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:20 pm
That sounds like a really difficult experience Chantelle. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Comedowns are our natural reaction to the use of some drugs, most drugs actually. They can vary depending on what we have actually taken or consumed and in what quantities. A hangover following an extended time of drinking is an example of this. With other drugs that affect us in other ways the come down can be different.
The not as helpful straight forward answer to avoiding comedowns is not to take drugs in the first place. I don’t mean that to sound patronising, it is just the more simpler equation of no drugs means no comedown.
Reach out have a few ideas that can help if you do find yourself experiencing a comedown and needing to deal with it.
Hope this helps Chantelle!
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:20 pm
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:20 pm
There's some ideas on here about increasing serotonin - important to know for a come down!
Kim Lu
Participant
13th Nov, 7:20 pm
I take antidepressants after I spoke with my doctor about how i’ve been feeling. I noticed that i get drunk way quicker now then i used to. And im not as happy when i do drink like before.
Jack Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:19 pm
Great question Kim Lu! I am not a medical professional but if you are drinking whilst on anti-depressants it is very important to have this conversation with the person that prescribed you the medication. As there are many different types of anti-depressants your medical professional will be able to give you more information on the possible effects for your specific medication. But in general, it is suggested that one avoids drink when on anti-depressants. In saying that, it is not uncommon for people to drink alcohol while on anti-depressants and getting drunk quicker is very common. Anti-depressants (depending on the type) can alter some of the chemicals in your brain, mixing this with alcohol which is a depressant can causes these chemicals to fight it out… hence why you can get drunk more quickly. Not only will you get drunk more quickly but mixing anti-depressants and alcohol can also have a negative impact on your mood.
Lee
Participant
13th Nov, 7:27 pm
I haven't experienced it myself, so I was just wondering, what is a bad trip?
Lil eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:27 pm
Hey, thanks for your question.
LSD (more commonly referred to as Acid) is a powerful hallucinogenic drug. When small doses are taken, it can produce mild changes in perception, mood and thought. When larger doses are taken, it may produce visual hallucinations and distortions of space and time.
It is not uncommon for psychedelic users to have difficult psychedelic experiences. This is most likely to happen with first-time users, especially with high doses and without adequate preparation or guidance. These experiences are sometimes called "bad trips." Bad trips can be the result of external factors, such as a chaotic environment or traumatic events, or the result of painful or troubling emotions that arise during the experience.
There have been some links established between people with existing psychological or mental health problems finding these worsened after using LSD. If you have a history of mental illness (such as depression) either personally or in your family, think very carefully before experimenting with LSD.
If you do decide to try Acid, there are some things you can do to lessen the chance of a bad trip.
• Know your limits- don’t start off with high doses, learn what your tolerance is gradually
• Be aware that single doses can vary even in visually identical samples.
• Do not use LSD if you are taking lithium or tricyclic antidepressants- there can be extremely dangerous interactions between these substances.
• Try to use with people you know and trust around you, ideally at least one of whom is not using a substance, or at least make sure someone knows where you are.
• Try not to get overstimulated- it is very easy to get dehydrated if you’re dancing for hours, and anxiety can sometimes set in, causing a potential increase in paranoia.
• If you find or fear that you may be experiencing a ‘bad trip’ try to find a place you feel safe and remember –it will pass.
Here’s a link to information by Dancewize on harm reduction advice on LSD.
JON
Participant
13th Nov, 7:31 pm
My parents caught me smoking cigarettes. They yelled at me, my mum cried, and banned me from seeing those friends again. So while there’s a lot going on, I feel really like I need a cigarette too, like I’m hooked.
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:31 pm
This sounds like it has been a pretty tough situation for you, Jon! There’s a lot going on here, so let’s work through it.
That would be really upsetting to be banned from seeing your mates, although it sounds like this was your parents’ way of trying to take control of the situation. You’ve mentioned that your mum was crying, which shows that she must really care about you and your wellbeing. So it’s understandable that your parents would react that way to this situation.
The thing about tobacco is that it CAN create a feeling of “need” or being “hooked”. It’s not just about wanting a cigarette, but needing a cigarette. It’s a hard feeling to be dealing with.
Fortunately, there are a whole bunch of different ways that we can make a change to smoking. There is a bunch of ideas on the site I have linked below, but it might also be worthwhile talking to your parents about it so that they can help you through it:
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:32 pm
Check this out as well Jon (and anyone else dealing with cravings!)
Ziggy
Participant
13th Nov, 7:32 pm
i wanted to talk to someone about how i can cut down on using drugs, but not stop. Is there anyone to talk to about that?
Paul
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:32 pm
Hey ZIggy, great question!
There are a few different places you can talk about this sort of thing depending on where you are, what you’re happy to engage with. Before we get to that, I see that you wanted to cut down specifically but not stop altogether. It’s an interesting perspective to have, not too uncommon either. There’s a lot to be said, and has been said, about an attempt to suddenly stop completely being difficult. It does work for some, but not for everyone. It might be that there was a threshold or two that you felt was crossed at one point as it was the intake was scaling up, and want to scale it back to a level you more comfortable. Fact is, any scaling back can be then further upgraded to quitting later, if that’s ever something you want to do.
The people you can have a chat to about this. We do have drug and alcohol services at our headspace centres, or they can redirect you towards the most effective and applicable services convenient to you.
Then there’s also this specialised online chat and phone service that engage with people and friends or family of people affected by drug use.
And this one is more youth specific
Even a list of apps you might find helpful on the subject
Anonymous 923
Participant
13th Nov, 7:35 pm
i know i shouldn’t drink and drive, but surely there’s nothing wrong with smoking and driving?
Celia - eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:35 pm
Hey Anonymous, thank you for the question.
Recent and ongoing research has shown that drug driving can also have the same devastating effects as drink driving. Driving may be a task that feels like it becomes second nature from how often we do it, but it is still a complex task requiring our unaffected attention.
Drinking alcohol may not have the exact same effect as other drugs, but the effect is still there. We are either not able to attend to the task sufficiently, or our capacity to continue to engage with it safely is affected. Because of this it creates an avoidable risk, one that we can control. So should we choose not to and put people potentially in danger, it becomes an offence.
It is new, it’s not a perspective we had before. The same thing could be said about alcohol and driving once upon a time.
I hope that helps.
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:36 pm
This is a short vid with a few tips on taking care of yourself when it comes to drinking and taking drugs:
Sandra
Participant
13th Nov, 7:37 pm
I don’t have a prescription for it, but i take dexis sometimes to help me concentrate on school and get stuff done. It doesn’t feel like too much of a problem, because it helps me gets results, is it a bad thing?
Jack Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:37 pm
Thanks for your questions Sandra!
What we have in your example is an intentionally positive outcome from engaging with drugs. There is still a possible negative element of how you would obtain prescription drugs without a prescription, but that is probably something you are aware of. After all most of what we are talking about tonight is illicit, it’s also not the point.
Are there currently any other side effects of the dexis? Might be an increased heart rate, irritability, headaches or nausea. Perhaps even some longer term concerns that are coming up. Having a look over this fact sheet might be a good way of getting an idea of how it might be potentially affecting you, that isn’t as obvious at this stage.
So while there are some current positives, there are still potential negatives associated with this drug. Quite often they are used to mask an enforced poor sleeping pattern, an attempt to burn the candle at three ends. If that were the case, then there could be some further options around creating some change in sleep pattern that might have a similar experience that the dexis create.
There may be some other ideas too that could be considered that cumulatively would have a similar effect as the dexis, but not also create the potential and actual negative effects of the dexis.
Anonymous 9994
Participant
13th Nov, 7:42 pm
hey im grace btw... i keep finding myself smoking weed or drinking when i feel sad because i wanna feel nothing or feel happiness and when i drink or smoke i laugh alot and its like an escape from the sadness but the next day i always tend to feel worse and im just curious should i keep doing it or not and find an alternative to help with the sadness but i dont know what will help
Anonymous 4567
Participant
13th Nov, 7:42 pm
Hi there :) is it bad to drink I guess as a relief when you feel bad or down even if it’s excessive sometimes?
Chad Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:42 pm
Thanks for sharing Grace & Anonymous 4567
It sounds like using alcohol and drugs is your attempt at 'fixing' some of the difficulties you might be going through in your life or in your mind and as much as it can make you feel good for a short amount of time, it definitely doesn't help you solve what is actually going on for you.
If you are trying to escape sadness, there are ways to do that without drugs and alcohol but also ways that will give you lasting effectiveness to figure out where the sadness comes from. Drinking and smoking might hinder your ability to figure out what is going on for you, so it can be a good idea to minimise use while you work out some of those difficulties.
There are many alternatives to coping with sadness, they might not seem as easy or fun as drinking and smoking but they won't give you a nasty come down in the days following and make you feel worse.
I'm sure you practice some of those things already, and there are so many healthy alternatives to focus on while you work on dealing with that 'sadness' that you mentioned.
This link by reachout has a good bunch of extra resources around sadness, maybe some will relate to you and you can begin figuring out how to get yourself into a better headspace and not feel like you need to escape through drugs and alcohol.
Also Anonymous 4567, it sounds like a similar situation for you too, the information above is relevant for what you've asked, sometimes drinking is an OK way to relax, but when it is used as an escape instead of dealing with whats going on for us, it can do more harm than good!
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:42 pm
Check out this video for the low down on alcohol:
Treeflower
Participant
13th Nov, 7:50 pm
I think taking psychedelics has really helped me be more of a creative person and changed my perspective on a lot of things, so why is it bad to take them?
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:50 pm
That’s an interesting point to make Treeflower, one that is spoke about often among those that do take psychedelic drugs too. Let’s chat about that for a moment.
The preface to this conversation is that these drugs are still illegal to have or consume. It’s important to remember because that is one of the more practical factors when we talk about these ideas. That might change over time, or it might not, that’s not something we know, only how it is at the moment is what we know for sure.
It is true that people speak of an enhanced creativity that follows their experience of these particular drugs. More often than not this is accompanied by a positive experience at the time, or the very least the absence of a negative experience. While that may sound simple it is a key factor. Because a negative experience can lead to further negative experiences as well, much like the creative expansion is linked to positive experiences.
And what level of control do we have over the possibility of a positive or negative experience? With the different substances (LSD, shrooms, mescaline), we only have a certain amount of knowledge on the strength or potency of them. Whether that be because we are far removed from the chemical process of making them, or just the natural variance that can occur within the growth of them in nature. This strength variance can have a great effect on our experience of them and then our follow up experience.
Even with an established tolerance or a knowledge of these drugs there is risk. So, with the goal being a greater creativity or developing new perspective, are these goals achievable in other ways. Not all creativity is born from hallucinogenic experience and so it isn’t necessarily crucial. Perspective or perspective change is something that is grown from within as well as our outer experiences. Again, while hallucinogenic experience could be part of that, it isn’t necessarily a needed experience.
So to answer your last question more directly with that in mind, it is the potential for harm that which also exists within taking hallucinogens that makes them “bad to take”. A positive experience may reflect some potential, but to discount the negative experiences and effects would not be prudent in assessing our current overall experiences of them.
Chad Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:51 pm
Thanks for the question about LSD/Acid.
Here is another video on what the effects are on your brain when you take Acid or LSD.
Anonymous 4567
Participant
13th Nov, 7:51 pm
Hi again... I have one more question.... would you say drinking excessivly would be just as bad as self harming? I know both aren’t good but sometimes I feel like drinking also harms me... I don’t know if that makes sense... sorry if it doesn’t
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:52 pm
Hey Anonymous 4567,
Thanks for asking the extra question, which does make sense! You make a really good point about how using alcohol to ‘self-medicate’ is harmful to the body too, and you can check out some of those vids and infographics for more specific info about the harmful impact it has.
I think the main thing to keep in mind is that both self-harming and drinking excessively are not helpful ways to cope with difficult feelings or situations. Sometimes it can take a while to develop some alternative coping skills, and that’s where it can be really helpful to get some counselling support. It’s about exploring what reasons someone is engaging in those behaviours, and then developing some more helpful coping skills instead. Making contact with eheadspace for a one-on-one chat can be a good first step towards making this change, or otherwise seeing a face-to-face professional like a doctor, school/uni counsellor, or booking in at a headspace centre :)
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 7:59 pm
We haven't popped this image in yet, but I think it's got some really awesome tips on how to pace yourself and drink responsibly (if you do choose to drink!):
Anonymous 6659
Participant
13th Nov, 8:00 pm
My friend smokes a lot. Usually speed but lately he smokes more and more ice. I go out with him and he’s just straight onto it. I can’t even talk to him half the time and I just don’t know what to do about it. I really care about him but nothing has worked so far.
Lil eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:00 pm
Thanks for sharing this with us today.
This is probably one of the more frustrating and difficult parts of how drugs can affect our lives - when we feel that someone we care about is being affected negatively but they can't see it or they don't agree. We want the best for our loved ones and have good intentions, but very little control over the situation because it is affecting someone else and not us.

Because control is limited, communication becomes all the more important. Talking to your friend when they are sober will mean communication is more effective. Try to look at things from their point of view and validate it. Listen to what they have to say - even though you don't agree with it, you can try to understand and acknowledge why they use ice but then also put forward the 'con's'. Try not to sound judgemental as your friend is much more likely to engage if they don't feel attacked.
Ice is a highly addictive drug and it's likely that this will take more than one conversation. If your friend is eventually willing to accept support, encourage him to contact a Drug and Alcohol Specialist Service such a Turning Point, or another health professional for support.
Here's some more information on supporting a young person who is using ice..and remember to look after your own wellbeing too!
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:00 pm
Thank you everyone for all your different questions and experiences shared with us tonight. Hopefully this has been a helpful experience for you.
You can return to this transcript any time in our past group chats section of the website, to review or check out some links you weren't able to tonight.
I hope you all have a wonderful evening and thanks again for stopping by!
Paul
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:00 pm
Thanks a lot everyone for coming on today, i hope this group chat was helpful for you all!
Jack Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:01 pm
Bye, thanks for your questions!
Celia - eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:01 pm
See ya everyone! Thanks for joining us tonight, hope it was helpful. Take care of you :)
Chad Student eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:01 pm
Thanks for chatting tonight, really good questions...see you next time!
Shannon eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:01 pm
Awesome chat tonight everyone! Cheers!
Lil eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:01 pm
Thanks for joining us today - there were some great questions! Take care everyone :)
Rob eheadspace
Moderator
13th Nov, 8:02 pm
Alcohol
Cocaine
Amphetamines (ice, speed)
Cannabis
Ecstasy/MDMA
Inhalants
Benzos
For information on some other substances not listed above, check out these links:
· Most substances - https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/
HELPFUL WEBSITES:
Headspace links
EXCELLENT SOURCE FOR MULTIPLE DRUGS
POISONS INFO LINE – 13 11 26
AUSTRALIAN DRUG FOUNDATION (ADF) – https://adf.org.au/