This might be your first experience with this drug or you might have used it before. Either way, having a plan can help you be safer. Here are some things to think about.
What are the effects of this drug?
- What should you expect?
- How long will the effects last?
- What will happen when the effects wear off?
You can read more about different drugs on our Drug Info page.
It's not uncommon for drugs in New Zealand to be something different to what they're sold as, or to be mixed with other things. Drug checking can help you find out what's really in your drugs. Some events might have drug checking available, but if you can, head to a drug checking clinic before the event. We've got a calendar of drug checking clinics on our website.
If you can't make it to a drug checking clinic, you can use reagent tests to check your drugs at home. Reagent tests are less reliable, but they are a good alternative when drug checking is not available. Read our article about how to use reagent tests. These are sold at Cosmic and The Hemp Store.
High Alert is New Zealand's drug early warning system. Check out their website for updates on potentially risky drugs.
Set limits and boundaries for yourself
- How much are you going to use and how often?
- Have you used this before? If you have, what effects did you feel?
Create a plan and ask people you trust to help you stick to it. If you are at an event, figure out where the medic and safe space areas are in case things don’t go as planned.
Eat and hydrate
It can be easy to forget to eat and drink when you are drunk or high, but eating a meal and drinking plenty of water before you use allows your body to work better and can help with the comedown or hangover.
Looking out for your friends
- Who will be around you when you drink or use drugs?
- If you will be drinking or using with other people, do you know what each of you are taking and how much of it?
- How will you check in with each other and when?
- How will you support each other to get home safely?
If you are using alone, think about planning for someone to check in with you online, by text or by phone.
Think about your tolerance
If you have taken a break from drinking or using other drugs, you may have a lower tolerance – this means the drug may affect you more. The same amount you used to take may now have unpleasant effects or increase your chance of overdose. Try starting with a smaller amount.
Reduce the impact of your use
Consider whether you have any responsibilities you need to plan for before you use – this could include work, family responsibilities or other social events. Planning before you drink or use other drugs can help you feel prepared and reduce the stress of a comedown or hangover.
That drug might not be what you think it is
There is always a risk of drugs being mixed with other substances, contaminated or sold as something they are not. Over half of the substances tested in the summer of 2020/21 were actually synthetic cathinones (bath salts) – not the MDMA that people thought they had.
Drug checking helps you find out what's really in your drugs. Find a drug checking clinic near you by checking out our calendar.
Check High Alert for information about dangerous drugs that have been detected in the New Zealand market. Talk with your friends about their experiences – they might have tips about what they have used recently.
If you’re planning to use alcohol or other drugs at an event, here are some tips to help keep you safer.
Take things slow
Use a smaller amount and wait for the full effect (at least an hour for most drugs) before using any more. This is important if you aren’t sure what you are taking, how strong it is or where it has come from.
Diluting a concentrated substance and sipping it slowly can help you to stay more in control and stop if you want to.
Support your mates
If you have a plan, stick with it. Stay with your friends, even if they aren’t on the same buzz as you. Agree together on any changes to the plan.
If you are on your own and things start going downhill, call someone you trust or find a security guard or a member of the event staff to help you. You can also find the ‘chill spaces’ or medic tents at festivals if you need help.
Take care when mixing
Mixing substances can increase the risk of having unpleasant effects and can be unpredictable and dangerous. This includes mixing alcohol with other drugs or medications.
Regardless of what you take, it is good to research and know what combinations can be harmful. Visit the Tripsit website for more information on drug interactions.
Practise good hygiene
Practise good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and not sharing equipment.
If you are injecting, use a new syringe and sterile equipment every time. Visit the needle exchange website for more information.
For more information on safer using, see Drug safety.
Lower your risk of an overdose
Drugs may be made in new ways, have other substances in them or be different strengths. Think about doing these things to reduce the risk of an overdose:
- Start slow, using less than usual. Wait at least an hour before using more. It is helpful to know what dosage levels are for the drug your using so you can set a limit that is not likely to cause an overdose.
- Websites like tripsit can help with providing information about mixing substances and dose levels.
- Check if someone from your group is willing to stay sober and keep an eye on everyone.
- If you are using around other people, make a plan so they know how to respond quickly if something goes wrong (overdose, panic attack).
- Check High Alert for updates on drugs being sold under incorrect names that may be more dangerous.
- Avoid mixing substances.
- Talk to your local needle exchange or opiate substitute treatment service about naloxone (a drug that can block the effects of opioid overdose).
- Download a New Zealand first aid app for easy access to life-saving information.
Know the signs of an overdose
It could help save someone’s life. Look for:
- pale skin and/or blue lips
- difficult or very slow breathing
- loss of consciousness (passing out or fainting)
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- extreme agitation or paranoia.
If someone has lost consciousness, check they are breathing and place them in a stable position lying on their side. Call 111 and start CPR if they have stopped breathing.
If you know what drug(s) the person has taken, this is important information to let medics or hospital staff know so they can treat them quickly. You will not be in trouble with the law for sharing this information.
Reduce the unpleasant feelings of a comedown or hangover with these tips.
Drink water, eat, and sleep
Staying well hydrated, eating and sleeping helps your body recover faster.
Check in with people who care about you
Talking with supportive people can help you feel better.
Reflect on your use
Look back on the event and think about how things went. These questions might help you decide what changes you could make in the future:
- Did you follow your plan?
- How did that drug or drink make you feel?
- Would you drink that way or use that drug again?
Did you experience different effects to what you expected? If you are worried the drug you took was not what you thought it was or could be dangerous, you can anonymously report this to High Alert.