Drugs change the way we think, act or feel. They do that by changing the chemical reactions in our bodies and our brains. Some drugs speed things up and make us feel energetic; others slow things down and make us feel relaxed. Some drugs cause our bodies to release the chemicals that make us feel happy; others may alter reality completely and make our minds and bodies feel disconnected.
People take drugs many ways for many reasons. A healthcare provider may prescribe a drug to help us feel better. A person may take a legal, non-prescription drug to help them sleep. People also choose to take illegal drugs to enhance a mood, to share an experience with friends, or even to escape temporarily from a difficult, unhappy or stressful situation.
While some drugs are more harmful than others, all drug use carries some risks. These include:
People who have a predisposition to mental health problems may trigger depression by taking drugs that elevate serotonin levels in the brain. And people with high-blood pressure risk having a heart attack by taking stimulants.
Only you can decide if the way you use drugs is harmfully affecting your life. These questions may help you decide if it's time for a change:
Help is available if you want to change. In Nova Scotia, an entire range of addiction services are provided free of charge through Nova Scotia's District Health Authorities and the IWK. No one will know you called or came in and your information will be kept in strictest confidence. The extent of the change is also your choice — no one is going to make you stop. But we can help you from experiencing further harm. Find the Addiction Services nearest you.
It's important to know that withdrawal from some drugs can require medical supervision. Do not try to go "cold turkey" on your own. Call Addiction Services for help before cutting down or stopping your use.
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Crown copyright 2011, Province of Nova Scotia, all rights reserved.
Page last updated 2011-07-12.