Drug Use by Paul

My story is about the effects that recreational drugs had on my mental health. I always thought that a drug problem meant that you had to be addicted to drugs. I never had any addiction, but social drug use really had a negative effect on me. That’s why I think it’s important to tell my story to others.

After secondary school I got a place studying science at university. At this time I began to smoke cannabis socially with my friends and classmates. All my friends were smoking it and it didn’t seem to have any negative effect on them. I also used to go clubbing and took Ecstasy and Speed a few times. I didn’t think there was a problem.

However, over time, smoking cannabis began to make me feel very uncomfortable and out of place. I began thinking that my friends were talking about me behind my back. It wasn’t long before I started to have panic attacks at college. Soon going to college became something that I dreaded.
Stupidly I continued smoking as I didn’t want my friends to think that there was anything wrong with me but this only made things worse. The more I smoked, the more uncomfortable I got, and the more uncomfortable I got, the more I would go in on myself and isolate myself from reality. I spent less time interacting with other people unless it was absolutely necessary.

I dreaded having to leave the house everyday as I felt very selfconscious in public. I felt like my mind was going a million miles an hour. I didn’t mingle with my classmates for more than a few minutes at a time and would spend my lunchtimes locked in the toilets as I was petrified of having to interact with people.

Eventually it got too much for me and I had a breakdown. I went to the doctor and was admitted to hospital as soon as my exams were over. I spent about 6 weeks in hospital. In a way it was good because I needed a break from everything. I was put on antidepressants which helped a great deal. For the first time in a long time my mind cleared up a bit.

However my time spent trying to fight my symptoms had taken its toll on me. It seemed as if I had run out of energy and my will to get on with life was very low. I had a lack of confidence in my ability to make decisions. I stopped thinking positively about my future as I felt that my symptoms would be always with me no matter what I tried to do. I felt lonely and depressed. I constantly had suicidal thoughts. It was very tough at the time.

One day I picked up a leaflet about a local GROW Mental Health support group. I instantly became determined to go to a meeting as I knew I needed to gain some control of my mental health.I have to say I felt very nervous in the first few meetings as I was among people I did not know and I felt quite panicky. However,I knew that I didn’t have to put up a front about my problems anymore and that I could be open and honest about my mental health problems without being ridiculed. I attend the support meetings every week and I feel like I have totally recovered from my breakdown.

Paul's Tips

#1
You don't have to be addicted to drugs or drink for it to be a problem…..If it gives you negative side-effects then it is already a problem
#2
Don’t feel under pressure to take drugs. If you feel uncomfortable, it’s ok to say no
#3
Do talk to someone you can trust if you feel anxious, distressed or suicidal
#4
It’s ok to talk to a G.P. or Counselor. You’d be surprised how understanding they can be
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