In some cases, members of the LGBTQ+ community can be more at risk of substances like drugs and alcohol.
That’s not to say every member of the LGBTQ+ community has the same experience. Unfortunately, factors at play can put you more at risk.
So, with this in mind, we have a few harm reduction tips for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Hopefully, with the help of these tips, you’re able to stay safe, no matter what.
What Is Harm Reduction?
Before we delve into some harm reduction tips, let’s go into more detail about what harm reduction is. Harm reduction helps reduce and minimize drug and alcohol use risks.
It first emerged in the 80s when concerns rose about alcohol and drug use, as well as the spread of HIV through injecting drugs.
Instead of being a program to outright stop drugs, harm reduction recognizes that someone may use substances in their daily life.
Harm reduction is a non-judgmental approach to help you make supported decisions about drug and alcohol use.
So, instead of harm reduction being outright against drugs, they recognize that people can use some drugs without issue. It’s all about safety.
Why Is The LGBTQ+ Community More At Risk?
While LGBTQ+ rights are better than once, it doesn’t mean it’s always safe for community members to come out.
Sometimes, community members may come from homophobic and transphobic environments and turn to drugs as a coping mechanism.
If you think about it, it wasn’t too long ago that being gay would have been illegal, so their views would impact their decision to decide whether society should criminalize all drugs.
It also depends on the environment. Back then, the only places the LGBTQ+ crowd could meet were at gay bars and parties.
For many of them, alcohol, drugs, and meeting up would go hand-in-hand. In some cases, they might still be some of the safest places to meet up.
If bars and parties are where most people meet, they may likely feel pressure or even an obligation to do drugs and have alcohol if they believe that the rest of their friends are doing it.
Then, there’s a sense that they may do drugs as a form of self-medication. Community members may turn to drugs to self-medicate if they’re struggling with mental illness.
Whether they’re struggling with depression or anxiety, they may believe drugs can help them to cope. They may just like to have drugs as a recreational activity too.
Find A Nearby Syringe Service Program
A vital part of harm reduction is the Syringe Services Program or SSP. With the help of these programs, you can help prevent the risks of HIV and hepatitis by making access to sterile syringes that much easier.
While there are some critics against this program, it is through these that people can use drugs in a safer environment and get help if they so wish.
It even helps the public by making it so needles and syringes can be disposed of safely.
Stay Safe When Doing Drugs
You should keep in mind what you’re taking. No matter what you have, you should only take a small amount to make sure you don’t overdose. You can take more than an hour later, but it’s an hour.
Some drugs take longer to kick in, and taking too much too soon can put you at risk.
Stay With Other People
If you’re out at night, especially at a bar or club, it’s tempting to wander off on your own. But when you’re out with a group, it’s vital that you keep someone updated on your whereabouts and if or when you’ve taken any drugs.
The same goes for if you leave with someone. Letting someone know where you are can ensure they know where you are if things ever go wrong.
Make Sure You Know What You Took
When you’re out, you should make sure that you know what you take. If you need to, keep the packaging of the drugs you took. If anything goes wrong, you shouldn’t feel afraid of emergency services trying to help you.
Any drug use will be kept confidential, and they will only contact the police if you’re being violent. Hiding your drug use and not knowing what you took can be a massive cause for concern if you’re at risk of overdosing.
Stay Cool And Hydrated
You shouldn’t be peeing a dark color when going to the bathroom. Instead, it should be clearer. If it’s dark, you’re dehydrated.
Don’t worry if you’re sweating because that can keep you cool; you should be concerned when you stop sweating. Make sure you drink plenty of water or energy drinks if necessary.
If you don’t want water, consider a fruit smoothie with something non-alcoholic to drink.
Take Plenty Of Breaks
Regardless of what kind of physical activity you’re doing, you need to take breaks. You could be running around, dancing, or even having sex. Just make sure you take breaks and rest.
It’s always important to stop, rest, and rehydrate to keep yourself cool.
Don’t Drive Under The Influence
If you have to go anywhere, you should ensure that at least someone you’re with stays sober. Should you, for any reason whatsoever, need to drive to the hospital, you should ensure that your sober friend is in charge of the wheel.
In emergencies, it’s best to call an ambulance, especially if you or your friends are worried about getting there on time.
Harm reduction can be vital to ensuring that members of the LGBTQ+ community remain safe, regardless of where they are and what they do.
Community members are more at risk than their heterosexual counterparts of doing drugs, as their experience differs from what they would go through.
With this in mind, harm reduction can help members of the LGBTQ+ community from struggling with drugs and allow them into a de-stigmatized environment for support.
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