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It's not what you take... it's where it takes you
Wednesday, 23 February 2011.
Originally from express article 23 February 2011 #127
|Diana Rands from CADS.|
Drugs, sex, food, gambling, debting
All the above activities can be hugely pleasurable, often enhancing our lives. It is only when we start to believe our use of; drugs, sex, food, gambling, and overspending is the only way we can feel pleasure, feel alive or even just deal with life - that our ability to make healthy choices diminish. This process may not even relate to what or how much alcohol and/or other drugs you take, or the amount of sex you have, or eat or gamble – it is where this behaviour takes you that matters, e.g. one unprotected sexual encounter can have huge consequences.
I often get asked how to recognise if someone has a problem with alcohol and other drugs. The answer lies in the question, if any activity creates problems, then it is a problem! If you think you have a problem, chances are you probably do. People who don’t have problems with these types of behaviours generally don’t spend time thinking about whether they have a problem or not!
For most of us, an early sign of a potential problem, is when money for the essentials of life (e.g. rent and nutritious food) is spent on mood altering behaviours – e.g. chocolate, alcohol, other drugs, sex, gambling.
Another sign may be the consequences of that behaviour. This can include: being an obnoxious drunk, forgetting to do something because you are so hung-over, putting yourself at risk in sexual encounters or getting distracted by gambling.
I am very impressed with the current ‘Ease up on the drink’ ALAC ads. I like the way they talk about their friend leaving their ‘mates’ behind i.e. Shouty Sam’, ‘Punchy Sam’ and ‘Hit on everyone’s Missus Sam’. It is up to all of us who notice our loved ones behaving badly, to have that conversation. The trick of course is to have the conversation the next day when they are sober. Do not attempt to have “the talk” when they are intoxicated. It will only add to your stress and they probably won’t remember having the conversation anyway. You may even be able to support your friend/partner/relative to talk about any underlying reasons for them over-indulging.
The third warning sign is of course, when our drug use, sexual behaviour, eating habits or gambling affects our health, both physical and mental. As a community it is up to us to create a norm where to be queer is to be healthy, fit and happy. The more energy we put into those basic requirements: good food, enough sleep, open and clear communication, dealing with conflict, letting go of the small stuff, exercising at least 10 minutes a day – the happier we will all be. And the happier we are, the less likely we are to use drugs, sex or gambling in a way that could be damaging.
If you have concerns about your own or someone else's drug use, or if you'd like more information, contact CADS on 845 1818 or www.cads.org.nz. If you live outside Auckland contact the Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797.
When you’re ready!