Drug meter: disclaimer
Drugs meter is a safe, private and non-judgmental environment for a person to reflect upon their use of drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.
Drugs meter aims to promote informed decisions around the use of drugs so that people can be more aware of the consequences of their own or another's substance use.
Drugs meter provides feedback based on the information submitted about a person's use of different drugs, allowing then to think about what they use, how much they use and spend and how this compares to other people who have completed the drugs meter.
Drugs meter also adjusts a person's level of use based on things about them as an individual that might make their use of drugs more risky or harmful to them, for example because they have certain medical condition, take medications or choose to inject their drugs.
A full explanation of how drugs meter decides whether you are more risk of drug related harm than other people is given within the drugs meter.
Drugs meter does not diagnose any medical conditions and does not replace visiting a doctor in person.
Drugs meter states unambiguously the following:
I qualified as doctor 20 years ago, training as a physician before becoming a psychiatrist. I currently work in London as a consultant psychiatrist and drug and alcohol specialist, based in a community drug and alcohol team and in a prison.
The people I see are commonly dependent upon heroin, crack cocaine and alcohol, though I see other people who have problems with their use of cannabis, amphetamines, ketamine, GHB or mephedrone. Frequently the people I see also suffer from mental health problems and concurrent physical health problems, and have faced lots of other challenges in life.
However those people who are dependent on drugs and/or are in treatment represent the minority (perhaps less than 5%) of people who use or have used drugs or alcohol. Almost all of them started using drugs in a way that did not cause them serious harm. The journey to problematic drug use for many took several years and there may have been countless signals along the way that might have flagged that their use of drugs was no longer without the risk of harm.
The truth is that for most people, for most of the time, their use of substances is primarily a source of pleasure and does not incur serious harm to either themselves or other people. Many people are able to self-regulate their use; they dabble for a while and stop. Many people who start running into problems with their use of drugs are able to change the way they use or what they do when they use - often when a friend may have suggested they take a break.
But some people don't recognise when their drug use is causing them problems or they can't slow down; or when their drug use is causing themselves or others harm.
Some people who use loads of drugs think everyone does the same - they look at their mates who take the same drugs and think that it's normal. Adverts about the risks of drugs often don't work - most people think they are different and will be safe. When it suits us we are above the average (like intelligence) or below the average (like the chance of getting ill) - what we rarely do is consider that we might actually be at a higher risk of harm than other people.
Drugs meter is for the majority of people who use drugs and won't ever need to seek treatment. However many people would like to use less, use more safely and don't want to harm themselves or others. In order to make informed choices around drug use people need information - personally relevant, objective information - about their use of drugs.
In reality there is no guidance for people who use most drugs about what constitutes safer levels of drug use. This is because there are no safe levels and as drugs are illegal, most governments take the stance that all drug use is bad and harmful. The only way to avoid drug-related harm is not to use them. Although many governments embrace the concept of harm reduction, most of this is aimed at preventing harm encountered by the minority of people who use certain drugs in certain ways, for example people who use heroin or inject.
Drug use by the masses is generally ignored, but people from all walks of life, all backgrounds, cultures and countries do choose to use drugs as one of a number of lifestyle choices. Drugs meter is where people can get some rapid, objective and useful feedback on their use of drugs.
Drugs meter helps people to think about their use and compare themselves to other people like themselves, to nudge them to be safer and make better decisions. It also offers simple tools to reduce the risk of harms related to drug use and can flag up when use might be causing problems.
Drugs meter places no judgment and does not tell a person what to do - instead it reflects on your personal information. drugs meter is not a doctor nor an exact science, but it is based on 20 years of experience, the opinions of countless drug users and professionals and a life of working with people who have widely varied experiences of drug use.
Drugs meter is an anonymous, safe place where people can think about their use of drugs and check out the risks they face - or use it to help our a friend they think may be in trouble.
We are always open to suggestions, so check out our websites to get involved.
Dr Adam R Winstock