People often label all drug use as drug abuse. In reality, there are many people who use drugs on a regular basis without experiencing dependence. But that’s not to say that drug addiction isn’t real — nor should it be downplayed. Addiction often occurs within the context of the social or medical problems we’re experiencing. In harder periods of our lives, it can become an escape from our minds, bodies or surroundings.
Drug use is often weaved into our social fabrics and normalized. Our personal perceptions are coloured by our communities, the media and the cultures we are part of — as well as our personal histories. Even within our social groups, people can have very different understandings of what counts as use — and what becomes abuse. With that said, excusing drug use as a ‘lifestyle’ can be a slippery slope: it can minimize any abuse and dependencies taking place. And it can be difficult to spot the difference: after all, we quickly adapt to what’s considered normal within our communities, and might never really question it.
If you are becoming concerned about substance abuse, addressing it can be challenging. It can be hard to leave or take a break from the group you belong to. There can be a fear of losing the community, being alienated or becoming ‘boring’.
We encourage you to look past that fear. It’s easier said than done, so here is a bit of advice that we hope will help you along the way.
If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one’s drug use:
- Avoid labelling drug use as abuse. It can seem belittling, invasive or judgmental — even if you’re both part of the same community.
- Embrace a non-judgmental and non-coercive attitude. Your goal here is to show compassion and see the person — not the drug. What’s really going on in this person’s life that might cause them to use more drugs?
- Sometimes people do drugs to cope with mental health issues — especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. That’s totally understandable, but perhaps not a good long-term solution. Advise your friend to talk to a therapist; perhaps you can help them find an eligible one, or help them navigate the mental health system. After all, this can be difficult to do on your own when you’re already struggling.
- Spend time hanging out over an activity they like — whether it’s baking, watching films, playing music or cross-stitching. Remind them of other activities that make them feel happy and creative.
If you’re concerned about your own drug use:
- Reach out to friends who don’t engage in drug use (or at least do so to a lesser extent).
- Be open within your group about your need to cut down/take a break/focus on something else for a while. Good people will meet you with understanding.
- Shift your focus and stay busy — whether through a hobby, a new project or helping some friends out. Find a way to keep your head and hands preoccupied.
- Be open with people you trust about your process — both the good and bad days. The more we call out and name addiction or abuse for what it is, the more we can disempower it.
- Remember that addiction is a complex process encompassing physical, mental and social well being. Be kind to yourself and get support.
Resources for help
By law, each municipality in Denmark is obliged to offer free drug counselling and treatments to its citizens. Talk to your general practitioner about getting a referral to a treatment center.
At Bedside Productions, we asked our community to send in recommendations for friendly and non-judgmental organizations and centers. All of those great suggestions made it into the list below. We hope you’ll find it useful — and if you have any other valuable tips, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
U-Turn – Municipality of Copenhagen has a free and anonymous offer for people between 14-24 years.
KAB — A wide variety of treatments available.
PAS (Projekt Anonym Stof Behandling) — Anonymous and free.
AIDS Fondet — Have a program designed for people who struggle with a problematic relationship between drugs and sex. The main target groups are trans people, queer men and people under 30. But since every case is individually-based, you can still talk to them about whether you fit the program.
Psychotherapist Jean Von Baden — Experience with party culture, drug abuse and queer people.
Sølve Storm Falkenberg – Psychologist specialising in queer, chemsex, sex work, polyamory, kink and much more.
Stinne Bogh – Psychologist specialising in sexual minorities, queer identities and sex workers.