Drugs and Alcohol

Reasons for stopping or cutting down on drug use

Some of the people we talked to had cut down or given up their use of street drugs. Their reasons for stopping or cutting down included:
  • Being worried about their health or mental health
  • Changes in their lives (like starting a new relationship or having a child)
  • Worries about addiction, bad experiences with drugs or after effects
  • Relationships with family
  • Money
  • Losing contact with suppliers or dealers
  • Growing up, preferring to feel in control and moving on from what some described as boring, teenage behaviour
General health and well-being
Some of the people we talked to told us that they used cannabis to help them to relax but those who decided to stop using cannabis (in all its forms) and other illegal drugs often did so for health reasons. Joe wanted to get fit and decided that he needed to stop smoking tobacco. Stephanie too decided to give up tobacco after a relative was diagnosed with lung cancer. She also didn’t like the way that cannabis made her feel tired with no motivation. Experiencing anxiety and paranoia could make people feel that they were much better off not taking any drugs (see Mental health and drugs). Sam started to give up skunk eight years ago and saw his mental health improve. He thinks that young people don’t realise the dangers of cannabis.
Young people commented on the health benefits of stopping or cutting down. Chloe said she feels more energetic and healthy with a brighter complexion and clearer eyes. Karis also noted that her physical appearance improved after reducing her use of cannabis, she no longer looked ‘a bit grey’.
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Becoming a mother or father
Pregnancy and parenthood were described as powerful reasons to give up using illegal drugs. Young people we talked to didn’t think it appropriate to get high, or drunk, when they were responsible for children. When Karis had a job working with children she didn’t use cannabis during the week.
The young mothers we talked to had given up using drugs after they found out they were expecting a baby.
Steph’s mum was addicted to heroin and now a mother herself, expecting her second child, she strongly disapproves of friends who still use illegal drugs. She says that she will never put her children in second place to a drug habit or risk them being put into care, which is what happened to her and her siblings.
Peter doesn’t smoke cannabis when his son is with him and Raphael said that he thinks he will stop using cannabis when he becomes a father.
Worries about addiction
Addiction or dependency on drugs can make a person’s life miserable. Young people who had overcome addiction stressed that their personal life is much better and they are now able to plan for their future. Jim had lost family, friends and a home to his heroin addiction. Now that he is clean he doesn’t take for granted his child, girlfriend, flat and job – all of which provide motivation to avoid illegal drugs. For Harry, who has recovered from cannabis-induced psychosis, going back to his drug-taking days would feel like a personal failure.
Feelings after stopping or cutting down drug use
Those who stopped or cut down on their use of drugs, often said they felt better as a result.
Charlie says that she feels happier and lighter now that she is drinking and using drugs less. She has come to value being present in her own mind and body and sees this as a ‘virtuous’ circle which helps her to deal with things better.
Chloe and others said that now they want to experience life without the extra ‘high’.

Last reviewed : July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.


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