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Cutting down

When do the good times become a problem? If you tried our Life Check and want to reduce the amount of time you spend on sex, drugs and alcohol, this section can help.

Make a plan

You stand a better chance of controlling your drug, alcohol or dating app use if you start to think about what you do, when and where you do it, and what aspects, if any, you’d like to change.

Changing can be hard, but there is support available if you need it.

Tips for cutting down or quitting drugs or alcohol

If you have any friends or family you feel comfortable talking to, asking them for help can make a big difference. You might find it easier to talk to someone else too. Check out our help page for tips on finding support.

Be prepared for withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • trouble sleeping
  • irritability
  • boredom
  • mood swings

Take some time and be gentle with yourself – these will improve over time.

Note down your triggers

Make a note of when, where and why you have taken drugs or drunk excessively over the last few months, and who you take them or drink with. Are there any patterns?

If there are patterns, make a list of everything that triggers a drugs or heavy alcohol session. This could be getting drunk in town with certain friends, having a dealer’s number on your phone, spending time online or going to a sauna after clubbing.

Thinking of the triggers you wrote down, make a plan for how you can reduce the chances of one or more of them. These might be:

  • deleting an app or dating site profile or updating it to say that you’re not interested in using chems
  • avoiding activities that might make it difficult to stick to your plan, such as getting drunk with certain friends
  • removing drugs or drug-taking equipment from your home
  • deleting dealers’ numbers from your phone and asking friends not to let you have them if you ask.

Be prepared for the changes to take some time and for there to be setbacks. Try not to beat yourself up; instead see this as part of the learning process. What happened and what can you do differently next time?

Stay busy

Making plans with people who don’t use drugs or drink excessively, or doing other things you enjoy, can help to make it easier for you to avoid temptation and stick to your plans.

Treat yourself with the extra free time and money you have from cutting back on drugs by doing something you enjoy or have been meaning to do. This could be a new hobby or seeing people you have missed spending quality time with.

Stay active

Exercise such as swimming, walking and going to the gym give you a natural high by releasing endorphins, relieving boredom, giving you energy and boosting the immune system.

Sometimes cutting back on drugs or drinking can uncover difficult emotions or issues which you have been avoiding dealing with. There are lots of different types of help you can get (here are some suggestions) which can help you to sort things out and make sure the changes you want to make, last.

Stay busy – boredom is your biggest enemy. Overcome it with activities such as exercise, hobbies, shopping or seeing family and non drug-using mates.

If you live in the London boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham or Westminster you can get help from the Club Drug Clinic. They are very experienced at working with LGBT communities and offer a range of services including detox and employment support. Antidote offers support to people across London and if you are outside of the capital you can find your local service through NHS Choices.

Dating app addict?

It can be really easy to use dating apps such as Grindr compulsively – hours may go by without you noticing. The constant scrolling, ‘Up for meet?’ messages and high drop-off rate of conversations can lead to stress and anxiety or you feeling increasingly horny.

Drugs like mephedrone can result in short-term memory loss, which fuels the ‘Grindr-trap’ even further.


  • Set yourself a time limit for using dating apps, whether you’re using it alone at home or at a chillout. You can always uninstall the app or make an agreement with friends not to use them for a period of time.
  • If you’re on your way home from a chillout or group session, try to put something in place to help ensure you don’t get tempted by another session. Leave with a friend or make a plan to do something social with somebody. Think about getting some food and watching some TV while you start to comedown.
  • If you’re taking a break from drugs or alcohol, detoxing or on a rehab program, deleting apps or profiles on some sites can be a good way to remove temptation. If you find you just reinstall them, consider using an app blocker (which can be downloaded from either of the App Stores) and giving the access code to a trusted family member or friend.

Next: Sober sex ››

Published: 05/09/2018
Next review: 05/09/2021