Are you concerned about your alcohol use or drug use? Would you like to keep track of your current level of risk with drinking or taking drugs? Help Me Stop now have free self-assessment tools on our website, which you can use as many times as you want.
- It only takes a couple of minutes to complete the multiple choice surveys.
- Your results and recommendations are completely confidential, available immediately you complete the survey.
- Depending on the risk level of your drinking or drug-taking, we give tailored advice about professional alcohol support or drug support.
- For confidential advice about face-to-face rehab, Online Rehab or counselling, please contact Help Me Stop, call 0208 191 9191, email email@example.com or message us on Live Chat.
My alcohol use or drug use is only recreational – so that’s okay, isn’t it?
No one who starts drinking alcohol or using drugs recreationally ever considers that their use might be, or become, problematic. Most people first use alcohol or drugs for social reasons, seeking fun and conviviality, often with friends or relatives. Social and family norms can influence greatly when and how people drink and take drugs, including when they start.
However, the concept of recreational use is a misnomer. Recreational drug use suggests that drug use is safe at a certain level, and that a person is always in control of that use. This isn’t the case – all drugs and alcohol have the potential for dangerous side effects, and their use can be fatal. There is always risk involved. Drugs alter our perception of reality and diminish our ability to reason.
Drug use and alcohol use also creates psychological dependence, and in some cases, physical dependence. Both can enslave us, becoming increasingly difficult to escape from without professional addiction help (and even then, it is still not easy). Drug use and alcohol use can also increase the risk of over 200 medical conditions, and of course, it can kill.
So, even if you’re using drugs or drinking at weekends only, or at what you consider to be a manageable level, it’s important to be aware of the risk level. By using our free tools for alcohol use or drug use, you can keep track and get tailored advice.
Why do people drink alcohol and take drugs?
Alcohol use and drug use creates altered states of mind. On the whole, people will drink or use drugs:
- To feel good – including experiencing a sense of euphoria or “high”
- To feel numb – to escape pressure, pain, stress, or distressing emotions
- To fit in – due to peer pressure from others or the desire to fit in with the peer group
- To create a sense of confidence – by lowering inhibitions
If you find yourself regularly drinking or taking drugs for these reasons, that indicates psychological dependence to alcohol or drugs. Read more here about alcohol addiction symptoms or drug addiction symptoms.
The 4 main types of recreational drugs
There are four main types of recreational drugs with all of them having negative neurological consequences. These are analgesics, depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens:
- Analgesics: Examples of recreational drugs in this category include heroin, morphine, and pain medications containing codeine and oxycodone.
- Depressants: Depressant drugs used recreationally often include alcohol, tranquilizers, and barbiturates, and benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, Temazepam.
- Stimulants: Stimulant drugs are often used to increase energy, focus, and alertness. Common examples of stimulant recreational drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy/MDMA, and prescription medication like Adderall and Ritalin.
- Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens consist of a range of drugs such as LSD, mushrooms, ketamine, marijuana, and GHB.
Illegal drugs and non-prescribed medication
The constituents of illegal drugs such as ketamine and cocaine, and non-prescribed medication often bought over the internet or on the street, are unknown. These drugs have no regulated ingredients, usage instructions, or assurance that they are safe. Dealers and illicit drug manufacturers will often mirror drugs like cocaine, ketamine and benzos but mixing in similar-looking substances that are cheaper and easier to obtain and as a consequence you don’t really know what you are putting in your body.
Risky behaviours with alcohol use and drug use
Typically, drugs and alcohol are used recreationally for their mind-altering effects – people are looking to change their mental state in some way. This impacts on the brain in many different ways: for example, impaired judgment, coordination, even hallucinations and unconsciousness. Emotions are often heightened or dulled under the influence of drugs and alcohol, which can lead to risky behaviours. For example, some people when drunk are aggressive and more likely to get into fights and arguments. Many people experience a false sense of invincibility and end up taking physical risks. Other common risky behaviours include unprotected sex, making poor decisions that endanger one’s safety (e.g. drink driving), and even suicide attempts.
Alcohol and drug overdose and withdrawal
Some drugs pose a risk for overdose, which happens when a person consumes a toxic amount of a drug. Certain drugs carry a greater risk, and some can lead to death. Overdoses, for example, are frequent among those who use opioid drugs like heroin. More and more people are overdosing using ketamine, as ketamine usage spikes in this country. Chemsex drugs including GHB and GBL come with a high risk of overdose.
Alcohol can also prove life threatening, especially if you are drinking every day and a certain level and then decide to just stop – this can be potentially fatal. If you are drinking at these levels, it is never just safe to stop.
Don’t dismiss recreational alcohol use or drug use – know the facts
Not everyone who uses drugs and alcohol will become physically addicted, but certain factors make a person more at risk. The risk of psychological addiction is however much higher. Addiction can affect anyone, at any age, and of any background or upbringing,
So would you like to assess your current alcohol use or drug use? Would you like to get a clear picture of the risks and recommendations for change?
Complete the alcohol use severity questionnaire – the alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT) is a comprehensive alcohol harm screening tool. It was developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is a good tool for you to assess the seriousness and harm of your drinking. It is free. You can use it as many times as you like to monitor the seriousness of your drinking.
Complete the drug use severity questionnaire – the Drug use disorders identification test (DUDIT) is an 11-item screening instrument for drug-related problems. It is a good tool for you to assess the seriousness and harm of your drug use. It is free. You can use it as many times as you like to monitor the seriousness of your drug use.
With both the alcohol use and drug use survey, the responses you will receive relate to how you have answered the questions. Please take the guidance seriously. As addiction specialists, we know that it is not easy to cut down or stop without help. Problematic alcohol or drug use does not go away, unless you do something about it. This is not a moral failing. If you need professional help with alcohol or drugs, see it in exactly the same way as getting a personal trainer at a gym.
Chris Cordell is a Managing Director at Help Me Stop and is a senior associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, Certified International Recovery Specialist, and a member of the International Society of Addiction Medicine and the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals. He was also a former advisor, alongside the Director of Policy and Research (UK Drug Policy Commission) and the Head of Drug Strategy Unit Delivery Team at the Home Office, in contributing to the “Whole Person Recovery: A user-centered systems approach to problem drug use” – a National Investigation into UK Drug Policy