Recommendations for drug users in extremely cold weather

If you use drugs you should take extra care of your health and well-being in extremely cold weather. One way to adapt to climate change is to know how to care for yourself and others during cold and low temperatures.

Your health comes first:
  • Stay in closed and heated rooms during the extreme cold, especially after taking the drug.
  • Always contact your doctor if you do not feel well physically and mentally. 
  • Drugs can affect your body temperature. Drug use can lead to hypothermia, which leads to the appearance of vague speech, tiredness, memory loss, shaking, stiffness, breathing changes, heart rate changes, and blood pressure.
  • Reducing the use of drugs in extremely cold weather should only take place under medical supervision.
  • If you are addicted to drugs (especially opiates or benzodiazepines), do not stop taking the drug at once without medical attention.
Methadone:
  • if you are treated with methadone under medical supervision and extreme cold weather affect your ability to access medicines, contact your doctor.
  • Check the conditions where you keep prescription drugs. Avoid leaving them in very humid and cold places.
  • If you can not avoid going out, watch out for icy and wet surfaces, especially after taking the drug.
Dress warmly:
  • Dress a few layers wardrobe. Warm and waterproof jacket, tights, thick or two pairs of socks. Wear a hat, gloves, scarf, and snowshoes. If you are wet, change the wardrobe with dry as soon as possible.
  • Keep the heat in the rooms:
  • After washing in the morning, dry immediately and dress warmly.
  • Use blankets and heating appliances. Keep the heat on the premises.
  • Block the sites where the windows and doors entering cold.
If you have been taking drugs:
  • Be careful when using heaters.
  • Fill bottles of warm water and bring them closer to the body.
  • Do not take a shower with a hot water.
Food and drink:
  • Buy food with a long shelf life, food that is easy to do - dried/canned and frozen ready meals.
  • Drink hot and soft liquids regularly, like tea and soup.
  • If you use drugs several times a day, consume food and liquids when it suits you, but do not forget to eat food.
Money Matters:
  • Keep an emergency reserve fund for unpredictable cold weather.
  • Reduce costs to drugs in extremely cold weather, in order to have money for food, clothing, electricity, heating, and telephone.
Keep in touch and get informed:
  • Isolation in extreme cold can make you feel worse and lead to more frequent consumption of drugs.
  • Keep your daily contacts with friends, family, and social worker:
  • Turn on the TV or the radio for information.
  • Think of people who are vulnerable. Think of someone who may need support?
  • Call and send a message.
  • Learn about locations where someone or if you find yourself in a bad situation you can stay overnight in warm.
If you are without a roof over your head
  • Do not sleep on concrete.
  • Ask your social worker for shelter and food.
  • Avoid taking drugs outdoors in the extreme cold. 
  • Drugs do not allow to regulate the temperature.
For more information contact the Drop-In Centers of HOPS:
  • Drop in Center in Kisela Voda, from Monday to Friday, 10 am - 14 pm, tel. 02 / 3130-058
  • Drop in Center in Shuto Orizari every working day, 10 am - 14 pm, tel. 076 / 631-635
  • Outreach Team: 075 / 769-948
LOCATIONS where you can go for overnight and help:

Skopje:
Red Cross: 071/733 171, 02 / 3096-227
CSW: 078 / 230-943, 076 / 381-762

Struga:
Red Cross: 070 / 249-733
CSW: 075 / 588-980

Bitola:
Red Cross: 075 / 907-060
CSW: 071 / 342-492

Strumica:
Red Cross: 070 / 253-441
CSW: 075 / 377-798