One of the hottest issues in our community over the past couple of years has been crystal and the problems associated with its use.

Crystal is a very pure drug (often 80 percent purity) and it is usually administered in a way that ensures the drug reaches the brain quickly (either smoked or injected). This increases the risk of dependence.

Crystal is like any other drug in that it can make you have intense memories and thoughts about what life is like when you’re high.

For some people it can feel like anything and everything gets you thinking about using the drug. These memories and thoughts are called triggers.

Triggers can lead to cravings -“ intense needs or feelings that make you want to use. Much of the work of quitting any drug, including crystal, is learning how to deal with triggers and cravings.

If you use crystal on a regular basis and want to quit for whatever reason, here are some tips that might help you get through this difficult time.

Some people will be able to stop using without any problems, but for others it will prove much harder. If you really want to quit, try some of the following suggestions and make changes where you can.

Firstly, set small goals that are easier to reach. Be realistic about what you can achieve. Quitting overnight is not for everyone and can be impossible for some.

Try cutting back your use in steps. Buy less than you usually do, or use twice a month instead of every weekend. This can help with withdrawal as well. Get rid of your drugs and drug paraphernalia.

If you smoke crystal take the big step of smashing your pipe or simply throw it away. If you inject, get rid of all your equipment. Become aware of your using patterns. Who do you usually use with and where? Whenever you can, avoid these situations and find other activities to substitute for using.

One of the most important things to do is to schedule your days thoroughly. Boredom is one of the biggest problems for any drug user because it can tempt you to use.

Try to keep yourself busy all the time. Also remember that you may experience withdrawal. Symptoms may include severe mood swings, irregular sleep, depression and irritability.

These experiences are very common and will ease over time. They may make you consider using again, so be prepared and have a plan on how to deal with them.

Finally, don’t try to do this alone. You can talk to your GP or contact the Alcohol And Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 9361 8000 to speak to a trained counsellor.

At the very least, make sure you talk to one of your friends who doesn’t use about what you are going to do and ask for their support. It’s times like these that you can really work out who your real friends are.

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?

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