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Treatment, self-help and other responses to addiction or dependence, changing consumption patterns, detox, residential treatment, self-help programs, pharmacotherapy, talking therapies

Changing patterns of consumption

NOTE: Quotes are presented word for word apart from minor editing for readability and clarity. Identifying details have been removed. Square brackets show text that has been added, e.g. ‘I want to maintain [my current level of drug use]’. Ellipses within square brackets […] show where text has been removed, e.g. ‘Counselling was good but […] I would have liked more information about other treatment options’.

Many of the people interviewed for this website talk about changing their patterns of consumption and comment on the various parts of life that contribute to these changes. They describe different types of change, including cutting down, taking a break, stopping altogether, replacing one drug with another, or otherwise varying routines of consumption. Some of these changes occur without any particular plan or effort. While some seek treatment or attend self-help programs to create change, others use informal strategies to change or vary their consumption habits. It is these strategies that are the focus of this topic (For treatment and self-help approaches, see other subsections under Creating change: treatment, self-help and other responses).

People give a variety of reasons for their decisions to create change. These include reducing cost, concern about health and well-being, and managing caregiving responsibilities. Many people point out that when their circumstances change so do how and when they take drugs. For example, becoming a parent, changing jobs, or starting a course of study can involve organising drug use around a new routine. A death or illness in the family can also prompt change. As Bobby (M, 49, on a disability support pension, heroin and alcohol) explains, ‘When my father passed away, I thought, “What would he have done?” He would’ve treated me […] with compassion […so] I did it for him, like jumped off [heroin]’. Several say that injury or a health condition can also lead to change. Likewise some of those who had been in contact with the criminal justice system talk about how their experiences prompted changes in consumption (see also Contact with the criminal justice system).

Our participants describe a range of strategies for creating change, for example, changing social circles, moving to a new place, taking up meaningful work, and pursuing new hobbies and interests are all discussed. Some offer strategies specifically aimed at cutting down, such as limiting the amount of alcohol or other drugs purchased, avoiding social situations linked to alcohol and other drug use, restricting their own access to cash, discarding the details of contacts for illicit drugs, and only consuming on special occasions or weekends. Keeping track of consumption and making changes when necessary is a common strategy. Also, a few say they cut down, stopped or otherwise varied their consumption habits by replacing one drug with another, taking part in religious worship and prayer, or relying on willpower and persistence.

The support of family and friends in creating and maintaining change is identified by many of our participants as important. Although many say they still vary their patterns from time to time, or express a continuing desire for change, several say they’re satisfied with their current consumption patterns and describe the benefits they offer.

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Why people seek change

Work, study & managing finances

Many people point out that when circumstances change so do how and when they take drugs. For example, starting a job or course of study meant cutting down for some (see also Work, study & making ends meet). Others say that decisions to create change can be prompted by a desire to save money and avoid developing ‘tolerance’ (the need for higher doses after repeated consumption) (see also Consumption in everyday life; Work, study & making ends meet).

Zac (M, 53, works in health services, party drugs) cut down after starting a new job to ensure he was in the ‘best head space’ for his new role. (Played by an actor)

[So I took a break from using because] I started a new job and I wanted to be in the best head space for how I feel about myself and I how feel about work. So I didn’t want to be you know, feeling a comedown or being at work and having self-doubt. And with crystal, that’s what it tends to do: it takes away your ability to function at your best possible [level…] Even if you’re not having a comedown, you just don’t [feel the best.] You don’t walk around with a big smile on your face and enjoy life as much as you should.

Changing jobs and resuming study led Scott (M, 25, studying and working in hospitality, alcohol) to cut down his drinking.

I think the big difference is that I’m working in jobs where you are not allowed to drink […] I’m working in cafés now. You’ve got early mornings, early shifts I guess […] I found that I couldn’t drink if I really wanted to work hard at uni as well. It’s like, I could go to the pub or I could do that assignment.

[…In my previous job], I was able to drink on the job, I guess […] And then after work, you finish work at like 5am and […] you’ve slept in until 6pm before the shift, so you’re still wide awake. So you just keep drinking […] There was so many opportunities [to drink…] I think probably, why it’s not as bad now is that I don’t have those opportunities […] If those opportunities presented themselves now, I’d probably still [drink heavily]. So I don’t think I’ve changed maybe, but maybe I’ve just changed my lifestyle. I don’t know if that makes sense. Sort of like I don’t trust myself so I just don’t put myself in those situations.

Louise (F, 19, studying, cannabis) keeps tabs on her cannabis use and occasionally takes a break to save money and keep her ‘tolerance…in check’.

[I just try to self-limit, I guess]. I mean if I have [cannabis], I don’t have that much self-control to not smoke […] But I can stop if it’s not there.

[…]

I’m always just trying to evaluate, make sure I’m not getting out of control or anything […At the moment I’m not smoking for a couple of weeks…] I’ll just wait two weeks and then smoke, so it’s fine. Like there are times when I’m like, oh I could use a smoke. But it’s not that big a deal because I know I’m on a break. But if I’m like unwillingly on a break because I couldn’t find weed or something, that’s when it’ll make me upset if I was expecting to get it […] It’s usually money [that prompts me to take a break] Now I have something I want to save for […] Also just tolerance, I want to keep that in check […] You know, like you just keep needing to smoke more and more for the same high. That’s related to finance too though.

Having a baby, parenting & family responsibilities

Some say they vary their consumption because they’re looking to start a family or spend more time with their loved ones (see also Relationships, confidentiality & telling others). For others, pregnancy, breastfeeding and/or caregiving responsibilities encouraged them to cut down, take a break or stop altogether.

For family reasons, Scarlett (F, 29, works in finance, ice) and her partner intend to stop taking ice. (Played by an actor)

[My partner and I are aiming to stop taking ice altogether]. We understand that we can’t say, ‘I’m going to stop’. That’s not really effective. So we know that […] we’ll be minimising our use. We’d love to stop. I’d love to just stop and not be around [ice…] We’d love to have a baby soon. I’m almost 30 now. He’s 35 and, yeah, we’ve always wanted a child. And I don’t think we were ready until last year, but our frequent use has gotten in the way.

[…I’d also like] to see my family more […] My mum asked me […] ‘You live four minutes away. Why can’t I just drop in to see you?’ […] I’d say, ‘I’m not around this weekend’ or ‘I’m busy’. So they know not to come over unannounced because I won’t answer the door. So that’s not nice, not […] being able to have my family over whenever they want to. And that’s how they’d like to do things as well. Just drop in casually, just like I do, I suppose.

Zadie (F, 33, works in the health sector, heroin) stopped drinking and taking drugs while she was pregnant and breastfeeding. (Played by an actor)

I wasn’t using opiates at that point […] It was more like going to parties and doing coke and maybe a few ecstasy tabs and a bit of acid […But] as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I just stopped doing drugs. It wasn’t hard, because I [didn’t have] a physical dependence on anything. So I stopped drinking and smoking [and doing] drugs, and I kept that up. I breastfed for two years, so all up that was nearly three years of not drinking, smoking or doing any drugs. And, you know, once I weaned my daughter I started having a go at things again.

For Dylan (M, 27, unemployed, cannabis) the desire to be a good father means he prefers to avoid smoking cannabis now.

Some days I really want to but I don’t push myself to go and do it. So like I said, I’ve had my fun on it and lived the life. I want to make a better person of myself [especially for my son]. You know, he looks up at me really strong, and I don’t want to be a drop kick to him for the rest of my life. I want him to look up at me and go, ‘Look, there’s my dad’.

Health & well-being

Several people say they cut down, take a break or otherwise vary their consumption to look after their health and well-being.

Zac (M, 53, works in health services, party drugs) has a break from taking ice when he finds it’s affecting his ‘general well-being and motivation’. (Played by an actor)

It’s just a matter of managing [drug use] so that it doesn’t affect the rest of your life. And that’s why I stopped doing it because obviously it can be a bad habit. And ice has a lot of long-term consequences and you have bad comedowns […] There’s a lot of really good feelings and advantages in terms of enjoyment, but the reason […] I stopped doing it is because of the cost in terms of general well-being and motivation.

Matthew (M, 49, not working due to illness, cannabis) plans to stop smoking cannabis because he’s concerned it’s affecting his health.

I’m trying to get off smoking [cannabis] altogether. But if I get off it for three or four days I just get to the point where I just can’t cope, and I’ve got to go and get it again. So I just can’t kick it. [My counsellor] said to me, ‘At the moment, just do what you’re doing. Don’t push it too far’. And that’s sort of where I am at the moment. So I don’t smoke every day now, but I am now a lot more depressed [than] what I was too.

[…]

Now I’ve got the heart problem with fluid on the lung […] I just figured I’ve got to probably stop smoking so that I can breathe […It’s] just making my health worse, the actual smoke side of it. And I should give up cigarettes too, but I haven’t done that either.

Some who had experienced an injury or serious health condition point out that this led them to change their alcohol or other drug use.

After a night of heavy drinking and other drug use, Bill (M, 43, works in retail, alcohol) had a seizure and was hospitalised. Afterwards, he decided to stop drinking and taking other drugs.

Part 1

There was a big party for a birthday and I was just doing my normal thing, drinking all day and it was going to be turning into one of those times where I went overboard, smoking [cannabis] all day. And then somebody at the party had some cocaine and I said, ‘Oh yeah sure, I’ll have some of that’, as you do when someone offers.

Part 2

Then the next day I sort of got up in the morning and helped clean up and whatnot. But I just didn’t feel right, just felt really poorly. Got to about midday and I was just like, I’ve just got to lie down. I couldn’t sleep, I was just lying there going, ‘Oh my God, this is terrible’. Then anyway, I must have fallen asleep. I just didn’t know what happened after that […] I sort of lost consciousness. I just thought I was asleep, but I had a seizure.

Part 3

It was purely drug and alcohol related. And so they called the ambulance and I was taken to hospital. And they said […] that I could have another seizure at any time and it was really serious. My saline levels were at a critical level, you know. I was close to death almost.

Part 4

It was at that point that I sort of thought, ‘Well there are two ways to go: I can continue with my drug and alcohol use and probably die early or […] have another accident or hurt myself in some sort of way, or I can just stop’ […] And stopping is probably a lot harder, but the benefits are a lot bigger […] So I was in hospital and I said to myself that, number one for myself, but for my wife and my kids […] I was just never going to drink or do any sort of drugs ever again.

After being hospitalised for psychosis, John (M, 34, works in the health sector, ice) cut down on ice. He now aims to ‘find […] that fine balance’ between enjoying ice while minimising the unpleasant effects he associates with heavy use.

There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve […] been in a psychosis and on one of those occasions I needed to be hospitalised for about five days. I think that […] sort of rang bells and […] made me decide that something had to happen, something had to give. So, yeah, I think since then, I’ve kind of wound back my [ice use…] I think I was using quite a lot at the time. I’m not sure how much but it was a lot. And that’s what led to me developing psychosis and feeling paranoid and all those things.

[…]

[My experience] didn’t stop my dependence but it did make me sit back and realise that […] I’d gone too far. I’d been using too much for an extended period of time and I need to cut back and take it a bit easy […] There have been times since then where I’ve […] binged again. And there’s been times since where I’ve been paranoid and anxious but […] not to the extent that I was back then […] I’m looking just to minimise my use. Yeah, harm reduction I guess is the key for me, cutting back, bit by bit.

Annemarie (F, 59, works in marketing, prescription drugs) says that when she was hospitalised for a pulmonary embolism*, she experienced seizures which she describes as related to rapid unplanned withdrawal from benzodiazepines.** While in hospital she stopped taking benzodiazepines.

* The cause of the pulmonary embolism Annemarie experienced is unclear from her account.

** Abrupt cessation of benzodiazepines in people taking them at high doses can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures and hallucinations. People taking high doses of benzodiazepines should seek medical assistance to cut down.

Part 1

What the seizures were from was the fact that I’d been taking [benzos] for so long that […] if I didn’t take them I’d get the seizures […] I would feel like I was having a stroke. I felt like everything would go down one side of my body, it was really frightening. And the day before I went to the hospital, I’d been to the GP […] He told me that I was hallucinating. He gave me my tablets for a month. I can remember getting in my car, I went to drive home, I don’t know what happened, then I walked in the door and I think, two days later […] my mum found me in my bathroom and I’d had a pulmonary embolism. So I don’t really remember a lot then for the next three months almost. So I went to hospital, had a pulmonary embolism, they gave me blood thinners, they gave me too many blood thinners, I had an internal bleed. But in the middle of all this, they were thinking, ‘What’s the matter with her, because she’s very strange.’ And I was going through withdrawal and they didn’t know that I took benzos […] I’d gone into withdrawal and I was having quite violent seizures, I was having a psychotic episode, and I didn’t know who I was or where I was. So what they actually did was they withdrew me off benzos cold turkey. They didn’t do a gradual reduction, they just stopped. They didn’t know how many I was taking anyway, so they would have never guessed that I was taking 25 to 30 tablets a day. So they just stopped me completely and gave me nothing.

Part 2

I was three months in intensive care, so I had a nurse sitting with me all the time. But I don’t remember that, it’s a bit weird. Then they just put me in a ward with a whole lot of people that were dying.

Part 3

I must have looked a bit strange for a while there, and when people of course said to me, ‘What happened to you?’ It looked like I’d had a head injury from a car accident or something, and when I said to them it was a drug addiction to tranquilisers, I think people probably thought, ‘She’s really strange and she’s crazy.’ I don’t think they believed that that much damage can be done from something like that.

Contact with the criminal justice system

Some of those interviewed had contact with the criminal justice system in relation to alcohol or other drugs. Several describe how their experience prompted them to limit how much or how often they consume (see also Contact with the criminal justice system). A few of those who had served a custodial sentence say they stopped taking drugs for the duration of their sentence because of the lack of sterile injecting equipment in prison. As Misja (M, 40, unemployed, heroin and cannabis), explains, ‘I’ve never used drugs in jail and I’ve seen some pretty nasty things in jail […] Like ten people using the same needle, not even cleaning it […] No, I just wouldn’t do it. Maybe I would have if I had my own needle or something in there’.

After getting into a fight while drinking one night, Scott (M, 25, studying and working in hospitality, alcohol) was charged with assault. He says the experience was an ‘eye opener’ and he’s since cut down his drinking.

I pretty much left work and I was drunk. I was by myself and there were guys walking around or whatever. An argument broke out pretty much over nothing at a […] restaurant […] They went outside. I went outside. They pushed me and I punched a guy in the face. He punched me and it went on for a while. Police came, they got footage from the […] restaurant. They pressed charges. I pressed charges. It went to court […and I got a Diversion Notice…] It was so scary getting arrested just because, I mean, if you get an assault charge, you can, you can’t go [overseas] sometimes, or you can’t get a job. So that was an eye opener. That was like the real reason, when I was like, all right, maybe [I should] drink less.

How people create & maintain change

For many, varying consumption patterns is part of making wider changes to their lifestyle and routine by rearranging priorities and everyday activities. A variety of strategies for creating change are discussed including changing social circles, moving to a new place, and pursuing new hobbies and interests.

Strategies for cutting down

Common strategies identified for cutting down include limiting the amount of alcohol or other drugs purchased, avoiding social settings associated with consumption, restricting access to cash, and only consuming on special occasions or weekends.

Angelo (M, 35, works in the construction industry, alcohol) cut down on his drinking by taking part in sport, and mostly avoiding pubs and nightclubs.

Part 1

[I drink…] maybe once every three weeks or so. It’s not very often at all […] I realised that I’m getting a bit older, and pretty much behind every stupid decision I’ve ever made in my adult life or pre-adult life has been based on alcohol. So any time I’ve been in trouble with the law or anything, or just done stupid things like crashed my car or something like that, alcohol was behind it. And I realised that I didn’t want to be like one of those old guys that hang around the pub asking for a dollar so they can buy their next beer [and get their] next beer hit. So I just had to make a change because […] I don’t want to be a loser.

[…]

I revisited martial arts, which is something I love […] I’ve put a lot of time and effort into it. So I’m training three days a week, doing classes. And on the off time, I’m doing a bit of skipping and just stuff at home. So, yeah, I’ve kind of replaced something that is making me feel good long term, [rather] than just making me feel good in the short term.

Part 2

I don’t go to pubs or clubs any more. I just have no interest in going out. So now if it was to happen, it would be a purely random thing.

Part 3

I went to the pub the other day actually. It was to watch the UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship]. They had a competition just recently and they had the female champion of the world. She was defending her title and I thought, oh God, the only place they are going to play this is at the pub. So I went by myself and […] I just got two waters, iced waters from over the bar. So I know that I can still kind of go to events and things […] that I like without drinking.

Jason (M, 34, studying, ice) has cut down by practising mindfulness, planning his consumption and limiting it to special occasions.

Part 1

I wouldn’t say that I meditate often, but that is there particularly if I’m particularly stressed. I will just stop for a couple of minutes and do a mindfulness breathing exercise. And if there’s a wave of wanting to get drugs and stuff, then I try to do the mindfulness with that.

Part 2

So I haven’t used [ice] for at least five or six weeks now. I did do a bag wash about a week and a half ago. So there was a tiny bit in there and I injected that. I don’t consider that a relapse but I do see that I still have a way to go with not using or discontinuing my use […]

Ideally I would love to stop […] Part of me wants to stop. There’s a small part. And then there’s another part who wants to have that animalistic, tribal sex, and just go completely bonkers and nuts with it. Because I have been using on my own quite a bit, I am trying to […] use with someone else. Have it as a special occasion […] So I think about two months ago, I did have some visitors and so that was nice to have something different [and take ice with them]. And yeah, so as long as it’s structured, planned, organised, then that could work for me. But if all those things aren’t there, then I would more than likely not do it.

To cut down, Zac (M, 53, works in health services, party drugs) avoids visiting social networking websites at busy times when people are looking to ‘hook…up, and party…and do…drugs’. (Played by an actor)

[Another strategy if you want to avoid using] is to stay offline. So there’s, like, a [social networking…] site that’s mainly for guys hooking up, and partying and doing drugs. So I went off that site […] I put on my [profile], ‘No chemsex’, and [then] I changed that because I started doing it, or I was interested in doing it […] I suppose I could change that back again now, but I haven’t needed to […because] for the most part, the guys who’re partying and taking drugs are generally doing that on a Saturday morning, or a Sunday morning, or late at night. So if you’re [in bed early] you avoid that.

Monitoring consumption & limiting possible undesirable effects

Many people say they keep track of how much and how often they consume, and make changes when necessary to limit the risks they see as related to more frequent consumption.

Jim (M, 21, studying, cannabis) monitors his cannabis consumption and cuts back when he notices it’s getting ‘too much’. (Played by an actor)

I’ve kind of tried to stop smoking [cannabis] in the mornings, and […] just keep it to with friends in the afternoons or at night time. Because then when I do get too high or whatever, I just go to sleep and wake up the next day. So yeah, there are strategies that I’m trying to use to manage it.

[…Another strategy is] just noticing when it’s too much or when I’m doing it a lot. Just having to completely push myself back from it and cut myself off and go, okay, don’t do it for three days […] And just that little kick-back stops me from falling fully into it.

For Kate (F, 36, works in the health sector, prescription drugs and ice), taking drugs only in moderation is crucial to enjoying them so she keeps track of her consumption and cuts down when necessary. (Played by an actor)

Moderation with everything is [important] because if you do it too much, the enjoyment is sucked out of it and you build a tolerance to it […So I’d like to go back to just doing ice when I go to nightclubs or I’m out partying…] instead of having to think I want to do it during the day to have a bit of pep or focus at work. So yeah, it’s only probably been three weeks [since I’ve been taking it…daily]

[…With the Valium (diazepam)] I think I have enough self-regulation and knowledge to […] not have it out of control […] You know, one Valium a night isn’t really that out of control. I’ve cut down from where I was. I was taking a lot more a few months ago so I’m regulating it already.

Strategies for stopping

Some of those who stopped altogether offer strategies for remaining abstinent such as drawing support from religious beliefs, and relying on willpower, persistence and inner strength.

To help her stop drug use, Melanie (F, 29, primary carer for her children, ice) changed social circles and spent more time with her family. (Played by an actor)

I got in trouble with the law, and I was placed on an intensive corrections order, so I had to give […] urine [samples] a couple of times a week [and I had to] go to, like, after-care meetings, and do community service and stuff. And that was for 12 months. So I had to stop, otherwise I was going to go to jail [… so] I just hung around people who didn’t use and [I just spent] a lot of time with my family […]

And once I’d removed myself from the people that used I think it was pretty easy to stop because it wasn’t in my face, sort of thing. But when I’d run into people who did use or were under the [influence] of drugs, that was a bit triggering […] But then yeah, I’d just try and move past it.

For Nick (M, 50, not working due to illness, heroin), moving overseas, doing meaningful paid work and contributing to his local community helped him stop taking heroin for about ten years.

For me personally, the best treatment is if I could somehow detox from heroin and methadone and go back overseas […] To really get off the drug, the person has want to get off the drug, first of all. I mean not [just] say it, not let you hear what you just want to hear. The person has really want to get off it and never see it again. Now for me to do that, I’d have to leave the country.

[When I lived overseas] I was the breadwinner. I was doing a very heavy job, a job that an Aussie here wouldn’t even look at mainly. And I enjoyed it. I was being talked about in the village good, you know. Like, I was being praised. My mother-in-law was saying […] ‘The village is saying how good a son-in-law you are’. I was proud, you know, because I was working a job that was really hard. I was also managing the village soccer team and I was always on the go. I was […] working, looking after the oval on my own time, cutting the grass and doing the lines and everything. Looking after the jumpers […] Things like that, really getting involved. And I thought, it can’t get any better, you know […] The lifestyle, it just suited me. But […] we ran out of places to live and [we were] not forced to come back but it seemed a better option. Deep down I knew, deep down I thought, I shouldn’t really go back to Australia because of the fear of using again.

Sydalicious (F, 44, works in the health sector, cannabis) calls on her spiritual beliefs to avoid taking speed and painkillers.

There are other ways to deal with pain. It’s easier just to take a tablet, but when you’re finding […] a certain way of life that you’ve been leading, and you don’t want that certain way any more, it’s really hard to swap everything around. You know it takes a lot of time and a lot of patience with yourself. And will, a lot of God’s will. A lot of handing it over to something greater than yourself. And that was something that I actually learnt in my early days in recovery. You know, there’s something much greater than myself. And I guess for me a question that popped into my mind if I think about, Oh God, I’m bored. I really should go and score. You know, like on the odd occasion […] I just ask myself, ‘Will God be happy with this decision or wouldn’t he?’

According to Eva (F, 20, works in entertainment industry, ice), stopping altogether requires self-motivation and persistence. (Note: strong language)

Part 1

Quitting meth [ice] was a big one. I also got really in touch with my body because I suppose […] meth was like blocking out everything. Once I quit, I was really in touch with my body. I could feel everything. Like, it was hard to go out, like, the first few months out of rehab because I’d feel everything, you know. Like, I’d constantly […] think about things. [Like while I was having a drink, I’d think], ‘Fuck I’m going to feel this in the morning’. Like I couldn’t enjoy a drink without having the anxiety of […] that as well, which is probably a good thing but it was frustrating.

Part 2

No one can help you quit meth [ice], it’s something that you can only help yourself to do. I’m sorry […] Like, even if you tie someone down and detox them, they are still going to go out and they’re going to get fucking meth [ice] if they don’t want to stop, you know. So at the end of the day, it’s got to be up to you. And it’s fucking hard but you really need to want to stop.

Support of loved ones

Support from family and friends have helped some of our participants create and maintain new patterns of consumption.

With the support of her family, Zoe (F, 30, studying, ice) stopped taking ice for a few months and continues to rely on their support when she finds it hard to cope. (Played by an actor)

I had a three-month stint, close to 12 months ago now, where I was able to get off it with the help of my family. And [I] did that alone, cold turkey at home. And that was just agonising, horrible and at that three-month spot, I relapsed.

[…]

[I mean] as I said, I have got a support network with my family and friends so that if I am struggling on a particular day or around a particular subject, I’ll just give them a call […] My mum is there for me […] And talking, even doing this [interview] helps […] To get it out, and go, ‘Hey, I know, I stuffed up.’ But admitting that as well, that’s pretty hard.

Having the support of family and friends helps Ben (M, 29, works in hospitality, alcohol) abstain from drinking.

My mum was always really supportive [of my decision to stop drinking]. Dad was a bit more closed off because he lives up north, although he did put up for me to go up there for a week to work for him, and just to get me away from the grog and the rest of it, which didn’t really work 100%, because he kept taking me to pubs and stuff every night. But, yeah, look they were leading me in the right direction and giving me the support that I needed […] And, yeah, same with my partner, like she’s always been supportive. And even now, we’ve got a really good relationship so the trust is growing back.

[…Not drinking] didn’t really affect my social time that much. When I would go out, it would always be with a couple of mates and they were really supportive. They knew my situation. So, yeah, I would go out and I wouldn’t drink or anything […] So it hasn’t really affected my social life a great deal. The one time it sort of did, but I took the right approach to it […] It was at a Christmas party with a lot of old school mates. And it was fine up till a certain point and everyone started getting blind [drunk] and a bit reckless and I just had to leave. I just felt uncomfortable […] I was actually lucky [because] I had a couple of good mates who I was talking to and they were always checking on me, because I would sort drift off to the back. I just didn’t feel a part of it, but, yeah, they were always trying to keep me in it, keep me afloat having a good time, which I did, but enough was enough.

Maximising the benefits of consumption

Although many express a desire for change, several say they’re generally satisfied with their consumption habits and are only looking to make small adjustments as they want to ensure they still experience the benefits of consumption (see also Consumption in everyday life).

Jacob (M, 33, works in hospitality, cannabis) and his partner are trying to cut back a bit but they don’t want to stop altogether. He describes a number of benefits from smoking cannabis.

[My partner and I] are aware of the problem that we are abusing [cannabis] a little bit too much. But at the same time, it’s like, well, we’re still looking for work. We are still being productive and paying our taxes and doing great stuff […] So we talk about it. We are both trying to mellow it down a little bit. But at the same time, we don’t really want to stop because we enjoy it. And you know, it’s something we do together and it’s good […] Like I said, it helps me relax and be nice, and same for her. So we are better together when we are not cranky, so there’s less tension in the house. And like I say, we are a couple, you got your fights. So we are way more chilled out together when we are stoned.

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