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Making a decision to change
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Reducing use tips
Refusal skills
Coping with cravings
Stress management for users

Reducing use tips

You may want to reduce your use, but aren’t sure how to go about that successfully. Like any lifestyle change, the more interventions you make, the more likely you are to create the positive change you want to achieve because each one has a synergistic effect when combined with others. On the other hand, making changes of any kind can be difficult, especially when they’re well established.

Start slow and stay committed as best you can to whatever you decide you want to try. An incremental approach probably works best for most of us. Don’t be afraid to seek help when you need it. Be gentle and patient with yourself.

What have other guys tried that have been helpful for them? We’ve compiled one of the most comprehensive and holistic collection of tips and strategies on reducing use that you’ll find anywhere:

Identify And Reinforce The Benefits.

Make a list of all the possible reasons to reduce our use and the benefits we will receive by doing so. Note those that are most important to us and focus on them. Reinforce our intention by actively using the list we have generated. Placing it somewhere we will see it often, reading it over one or more times a day and adding to it are ways to do this.

Keep A ‘Use’ Journal.

Try writing down how much you use, when and where you use it, and how much you spend on it. Perhaps add how you felt afterward each time. Try this for a week or so. Some guys find this to be a useful learning tool in beginning the process of getting honest about our use.

Choose A Date To Initiate Change.

Perhaps it’s the rest of the day, tomorrow, the next three days, or perhaps the first of next month. Whatever it is, try and stick to your goal. Sharing your plan with a trusted friend can be reinforcing. We may have a tendency to binge before we start our ‘clean’ time. Try and avoid this.

Prepare

Start getting ready to reduce your use by making it more difficult to have access to Tina. Refrain from buying more. Make it more difficult to have access to your money. Remove drug paraphernalia. For more ideas on getting started, please click here.

Become More Aware Of Your Triggers.

What are the people, places, and things that trigger you? By becoming more aware of what and who they are, you can begin to plan to avoid or minimize those situations or people making it easier for yourself. Substitute other people, places, or activities that are less likely to trigger you. Some guys find it important to spend as much time as possible in non-using environments and with non-using people.

Structure Time.

Many guys find it helpful not to have a lot of time on their hands. If your use pattern is weekend-based, try planning a Tina-free weekend. Schedule activities ahead of time so you don’t get bored or tempted. Make commitments with other people so you are less likely to change your mind and get high. In general, structuring work, social, physical and volunteering commitments can be a good strategy that opens us up to other life opportunities we may be missing because of our use.

Pick One Behaviour.

Change the behaviour associated with your strongest cravings. For example, if chatting online is a trigger, then you are better to avoid that for a period of time. Or, if you use Tina to manage stress, you might try practicing a new way of handling stress. For stress management tips for users click here.

Use Less, And Less Often.

When you do use, try practicing using less. Maybe you can extend the time between hits. Wait 20 minutes this time, then 30 minutes the next time, and so on. Maybe you’ll find you don’t actually want or need that next hit. Cutting down frequency can mean lengthening the time between use – from bump to bump or run to run; the less you use the better for your body and mind.

Have A Plan For Money.

Easy access to cash can really be a strong temptation for some of us. Spending our money on other things or paying our bills as soon as we get paid can be helpful. If you can’t trust yourself with money in the bank then you might ask a trusted friend to temporarily hold some of your funds.

Hydration

Drink lots of fluids to support our bodies when in withdrawal. Juices and sport drinks can be helpful especially in the early stages. Be careful of caffeinated drinks. While some guys find that caffeine goes some way to providing a stimulant, it works against us hydrating and can make headaches worse. If you find you are consuming lots of caffeine then compensate with even more water. Alcohol is also a diuretic.

Improve The Quality Of Our Food Intake.

Go food shopping. Having a healthy selection of foods you enjoy on hand at home makes it easier to eat well. Some guys find it helpful to eat more frequently. Frequent snacking may be easier then eating a large meal. Whenever you eat, it is best to eat well balanced wholesome food. Protein is necessary to rebuild lean muscle mass. Avoid sugar and fat laden food if possible. Sugar can trigger mood swings and cravings. Heavy meals can make us feel lethargic.

Add Nutritional Supplementation.

Supplements can augment healthy eating, make up for deficiencies caused by our use, and help our bodies during withdrawal. The basics are a really good daily multi-vitamin, anti-oxidants, and pro-biotics. A knowledgeable supplement store can provide general information. A nutritional or naturopathic consultation will provide more individual and comprehensive guidance.

Be Good To Your Mouth.

Tina, especially when we smoke it, can cause dry mouth and less saliva which means more acid. More acid can mean more plaque, gum recession, infection and even tooth decay. Brushing and flossing regularly reduces bacteria that feed on sugars in the mouth and cause infection. Using a non-alcoholic based mouthwash is healthier for your gums. Chewing sugarless gum can be helpful too. Getting a regular cleaning and check-up at the dentist is a good idea. Most dental problems get worse and are more expensive with time. A good cleaning can eliminate plague, allow infections to heal, and make our mouths feel refreshed and clean.

Try Alternative Therapies.

Guys have found acupuncture, aromatherapy, shiatsu, reflexology, massage and others, all helpful for reducing cravings, balancing energy and moods, and regulating sleep. Ask for referrals from friends and agencies. Complimentary and reduced rates may be available through AIDS service organizations and by students training at their chosen schools throughout the city.

Be Patient.

You didn't get to where you're at in a day. If you don't achieve your goal, don't give up. Perhaps your goal was unrealistic. Perhaps you didn’t have the tools you needed. Guys find it important to acknowledge their efforts regardless. We strive for progress, not perfection.

Reward Yourself When You Achieve Your Goals.

Since we often think of reducing use as deprivation, it is important to support our goals with rewards when we achieve them. Some guys find using some of the money they save from not picking up by buying something of lasting value to be useful. Other guys find splurging on a massage or spa treatment helpful. For some of us, it may be as simple as having a good healthy meal.

Try And Enjoy Not Using.

Focus on the benefits you are experiencing, have heard you will experience from others who have done this, or anticipate you will experience in the future.

Remember that these are new choices that you are trying out. Right now we don’t need to overwhelm ourselves by thinking they must be for ‘always.’ They may just be changes we need to make right now if we want to reach our goal of reducing use, however we have defined that, and to make it easier for us to do that for ourselves.

We hope that you find one or more of the tips in this section helpful.

TIP: If you are having trouble reducing use on our own, you may want to get help and coaching from other peers and professionals. Our Resource Guide has comprehensive information about resources available in Toronto.