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Drug Addiction

a shame-free space
exploring drug addiction and getting help

Joseph Marsh
Joseph Marsh

Gay, Writer, Poet, Hobbyist

Table of Contents

Drug addiction in the Queer community

Drug addiction has been rife in the queer community for years. 

Ever since we’ve learned to hate ourselves for our identities there have been those who turned to drugs to medicate their feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing. Despite the strides we have made in our fight for equality, this issue remains.

It can often be difficult to realise that we, or a friend, may be addicted to drugs. Recreational drug use has become so normalised, especially in the queer community where Chemsex and club drugs are common and considered part of the queer experience, that our addiction can go unrecognised for years before realising we have a problem.

It is because it is often too late that we need to educate ourselves of the signs of addiction earlier in our LGBTQ+ journey, so we can better spot it in ourselves, and our friends, and get help when needed.

Signs you may be addicted to drugs

We’ve put together a list that you, or someone you may know, may be addicted to drugs.

However it’s worth noting this list isn’t exhaustive, and just because some consumes drugs doesn’t mean they have an addiction.

Helping you explore drug addiction free of shame l addiction remains one of the biggest obstacles for our community l LGBTQ Wellness

Being able to talk openly about drug use with friends and family can be key to creating a healthier relationship with drugs, and allows others to talk candidly with you if they feel your drug use is getting uncontrollable.


  • You have a hard time setting limits; repeatedly saying ‘one more,’ or using more than is needed to experience it’s effects 
  • You continue taking drugs after the party has finished, or continue taking drugs alone
  • You continue to take a prescription drug long after a health issue has been resolved
  • The amount of a substance(s) you need to achieve the same effects increases and you’re able to take more before you feel anything. ie, you develop an unhealthy tolerance for substances

Withdrawal & Dependency

  • You feel strange once the drug has worn off. This can mean that you feel shaky, depressed, sick to your stomach, sweat, or have headaches. You may also be tired or lose your appetite. In severe cases, you could even become confused, have seizures, or run a fever
  • You can’t stop yourself from using the drug, even if you want to. This is called dependence and can often lead to you continuing to use it even though it negatively affects your life like getting you in trouble with friends, family, work, or the law
  • Your mind is preoccupied with thoughts of the drug: how to get more, when you’ll take it, how good you feel, or how bad you feel afterwards


  • You’ve lost interest in hobbies and activities you usually enjoy
  • You have trouble doing normal daily things, like cooking or working
  • You have a new set of friends with whom you do drugs and go to different places to use the drugs, often detaching from traditional friendship groups

Dangerous Behaviours

  • You drive or do other dangerous things when you are on the drug
  • You become agitated and aggressive towards others, either on drugs, or coming down from them /  not consuming them
  • You borrow or steal money to pay for drugs


  • You hide the drug use and its effect on you from others
  • You’re having trouble getting along with co-workers, teachers, friends, or family members
  • Others close to you are complaining about how you’re acting or how you’ve changed
  • You become uncharacteristically short tempered with people

Physical Changes

  • You sleep too much or too little, compared with how you used to
  • You eat a lot more or a lot less than before
  • You look different; this can be bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses, or you may have gained or lost weight

Drug Hoarding

  • You tell friends there are no drugs left, and take the remaining drugs alone in the bathroom
  • You tell friends there are no drugs left, and hide the remaining for you to take after the party has ended
  • You go to more than one doctor to get prescriptions for the same drug or problem
  • You search other people’s medicine cabinets for drugs to take
  • You take prescribed meds with alcohol or other drugs
  • You steal drugs from your friends

Signs someone you know may be addicted to drugs

  • Changes in their personality and behaviour like a lack of motivation, irritability and agitation
  • Bloodshot eyes, dark rings under their eyes or gaunt cheeks
  • Consistently sniffly or running noses, or frequent nose bleeds
  • Shakes, tremors, or slurred speech
  • Change in their daily routines
  • Lack of concern for personal hygiene
  • Rapidly deteriorating teeth health, including yellow, decay, and bad breath
  • An unusual need for money or financial problems
  • Changes in friends and social activities

Support for those who may be addicted to drugs

Of course, just because you or someone you knows shows one or two of these signs it isn’t a definitive sign that you are addicted to drugs. 

However, it may be a sign that you need to re-examine your relationship with drugs, and that there may be something deeper for you to look into. We often use drugs to hide us from feeling we want to avoid.

Beginning to explore your relationships with drugs is a huge step, and it’s important to remember there is no shame in being addicted to drugs or saying so. However, it is important to acknowledge that it can be dangerous so support is critical.

If you think you might be addicted to drugs, you need to seek professional support from medical professionals: 

  • FRANK is Public Health England’s official website providing clear and educational information on drugs and alcohol 
  • Adfam is a charity that lists support organisations near you – visit their website and check the Support Directory on their homepage.
  • speak with your GP who will signpost you to relevant organisations
  • find your local drug treatment service through the NHS here

Additional resources to help you with safe usage

We provide a comprehensive article on Club Drugs; guiding you on taking drugs safely, because safety must always come first.

However, we’ve also put together a short list of Must knows to help you practice safe drug usage:

Tips to reduce harm when taking drugs:

  • Never use drugs alone, and always tell someone what you are taking
  • Always use clean equipment
  • Always start with smaller amounts to test the strength of the substance, and allow your body to adjust to the effects
  • Do not mix drugs  many drugs can have fatal side effects if taken with others
  • When dancing on drugs like ecstasy, make sure to take breaks to allow your body to cool down
  • Only take drugs in safe, secure places – this can be a place you’re physically safe, and also feel mentally and emotionally safe
  • Never drive while on drugs. Ever! You’re not only putting yourself at risk, but you can kill others on the road too
  • Always get help if you think you or your friends are having negative side effects; be honest with medical professionals regarding all drugs you’ve consumed because they can’t help you if they don’t know what you’ve taken. They are there to help you, not arrest you.
  • Place sleeping or unconscious friends in the recovery position to prevent accidental choking
  • Always practice safe sex, especially when under the influence 

Harm reduction resources you can access:

  • Needle Exchange Schemes – These are centres set up to allow drug users to exchange used needles with clean ones to prevent infections contracted through reusing dirty needles
  • Drug Consumption Rooms – These are rooms where drug users can satisfy their urges under trained supervision to prevent overdoses, disease transmission, and drug related litter
  • Drug testing in Clubs – The Loop conducts forensic drug testing at UK festivals and nightclubs to make sure that the drugs people are taking are what they think they are

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