I’ve always been very cynical about community forums. Trying to get the community motivated to attend these sorts of events is often met with cries of -˜-˜we would have loved to come but we had something else on or is it really relevant to me? Most of us are very busy people and have many things occupying our lives. Most of us simply don’t have the time to attend forums unless they particularly hit a note with our own lives. That is why I was so impressed with the turn-out at last week’s GHB forum held at Manacle.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, the GHB situation has changed dramatically from that of a couple of years ago. Overdoses are down (they still happen, but nowhere near as frequently) and use appears to be rising, with many of the people who were very vocal in their criticism of the drug now using it regularly. When I was originally asked by ACON to participate in the forum I really didn’t see the point as I thought they may have missed the boat -“ was anybody still interested in this drug?

Obviously I was completely wrong. The venue was completely full, standing room only actually, and the interest level in all aspects of the drug was high. There was also a wide range of people attending. There were some who had had no experience with the drug and were coming to find out what all the fuss was about and others who regularly used the drug wanting to increase their knowledge base. The evening proved extremely worthwhile and I congratulate all those involved with the event. I would particularly like to extend my thanks to Manacle who provided the venue for the evening.

So what did I take away with me from the forum? Were there any take home messages that arose on the evening? Firstly, I think we have to acknowledge that this drug is not going to go away -“ it is becoming more popular and it does appear that people are learning how to use it in a safer way. However, even with this in mind it is vital that we don’t become complacent. The big change in recent times with G is the move to use the drug at home when people are in recovery mode (whatever that means, because whatever it is, it sure isn’t recovery in the true sense of the word).

Although there are fewer overdoses showing up in hospitals, they are still happening. We know that people continue to lapse into unconsciousness every weekend as a result of G. Most people who do overdose are not well looked after when they are at home and there is the real risk of things going wrong. Fortunately, most people do come around and are no worse for wear -“ but this does not always happen.

No-one, not even the most seasoned of G users, should be fooled into thinking GHB is simply a bit of fun and that the warnings about the drug don’t apply to them because they know what they are doing. Things do go wrong even if you are extremely careful. I hope the next stage of ACON’s GHB campaign is to target the use of this drug at home -“ not to demonise this but to educate people that even in this environment things can, and sometimes do, go horribly wrong.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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