Here’s a Primer on how to avoid Catastrophe by Therapeutic Misadventure

Kaye Godbey
Project Coordinator; AOD/Poly-substance misuse and abuse prevention
​Health Promotion and Preventative Services, UA Campus Health Service

Only trust a pharmacy

On an unsterile surface, the smallest of grains of drugs can be transferred into other drugs, just like a flu virus by unwashed hands.  Pharmacies have strict rules about cutting and counting drugs under pristine conditions.  Drugs can be contaminated by other drugs while being prepared or transported. Drugs made or transported by a random person could be mixed anywhere and contain anything.  When it only takes 2 grains of sand worth of a drug like Carfentanil to send you into a coma, your life may depend on the person handling your meds.

The risk is in the mix

Drug taking is not basic math.  One stimulant plus one depressant doesn’t equal neutral effect.  One downer plus one downer can sometimes create four or more times the effect.  It’s not a one to one experience. Every person processes alcohol in a slightly different way.   If you are mixing with alcohol or other drugs, you can’t count on having the same experience as a friend, or even the same experience twice.  It is a dangerous myth to believe that taking a drug to counteract the reaction of another drug is an effective way to address a negative reaction.  What’s more likely to happen is that you will create a dangerous physical reaction.

Know your own health

Your mental health, sleep and hydration and organ function matter in factoring the effects of drugs.  What is the state of your liver? It’s an important organ when it comes to cleansing the body of toxins.  A special $6.30 liver profile screening (test #1424) at campus health could tell you how it’s performing.  If you have a habit of regular or binge drinking your liver might not be in the state you think it’s in.  You’d never know it without a test.  Also, people with heart, breathing and hormone conditions should be especially cautious taking drugs. 

Know your personal and family history

A personal or familiar history of abuse or misuse of any drug including alcohol increases your chances of becoming dependent on other drugs.   Also, personal experience with traumatic events or PTSD could increase your risk.  Reveal your history to your doctor so they can help you find a treatment that helps you avoid your heightened risk. 

Work with your doctor to find alternative solutions

What’s the problem?  Actively seek alternatives that are shown to have less side effect and risk. Sleep, diet, meditation, green light, chiropractic, yoga, physical therapy have shown to be non-addictive options many ailments. If you choose to use prescription opioids for pain, start with the smallest recommended dose and use it sparingly, sometimes pain and discomfort can be your body’s friend, you become forced to take it easy.  When pain is masked there’s a temptation to push yourself beyond what your body is ready for, which can create further damage and slow the healing process.