Programme: Six More Points about Drink, Drugs & Cigarettes

4. How Much Is Too Much?

You may get something out of using cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. Enjoyment, for example, or relaxation. But that doesn't mean that there aren't risks associated with substance use. Even moderate use can negatively affect your health and excessive use is definitely dangerous. But how much is too much?

If you're trying to decide what is "too much" when it comes to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol, it's good to ask yourself these two questions. The first question is: What does the scientific research show? And the second question is: How do I feel in myself?
This Is What the Science Says
When it comes to smoking, the scientific consensus is clear: One cigarette is one too many and there's no such thing as a "safe" amount. This is why governments across the world campaign intensely against smoking; hoping to raise a generation that will turn its back on this behavior. For alcohol, the approach is that it's better to avoid it, but if you do drink, you should do it in moderation (no more than one glass per day). Alcohol is only sold to adults and you're also strongly advised to avoid it if you're pregnant or suffering from any medical conditions. In the case of recreational drugs, scientists don't set precise guidelines, but ultimately, usage is discouraged. There is, however, a distinction made between hard drugs, such as MDMA, cocaine and GHB – which are classed as posing an unacceptable risk to your health – and soft drugs, such as cannabis, which still pose a risk but to a lesser extent.   
How Do I Feel in Myself?
Using cigarettes, drugs and alcohol will never be without risk, but if you do decide to use them, it's important to carefully examine your own limits and your reactions – whether that's during, before or after use. By tracking how you feel and behave when you're using alcohol, drugs and cigarettes – and what the consequences are – you allow yourself to make conscious decisions about whether or not you want to keep doing something. For example, make sure to keep an eye on how much you're consuming, and the way you feel the morning after consuming a particular substance. Have you ever noticed that the craving you feel for a particular high is stronger than the high itself? Or that your substance use is having a negative effect on your work, studies, hobbies or social life? Maybe you need to keep increasing your intake to get the same effect or you've noticed that, despite the fact that it's having a negative impact your mental or physical health, you don't seem to be able to cut back or stop? These could all be signs of addiction. You should immediately contact either OpenUp or your family practitioner.

Reflect & connect

1. It's time to take stock: How much is too much for you?

2. How can you tell when you've had too much?

3. How often do you feel this way? 

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