Thinking about drinking or taking other drugs at an event this summer? Making a plan ahead of time is a great way to ensure you remember the day for the right reasons.
This might be your first experience with the substance you have chosen, or you might have used it before.
Either way, having a plan will help you be safer. Here are some things to think about:
- What should you expect?
- How long will the effects last?
- What will happen when the effects wear off?
Find out more about different drugs on the NZ Drug Foundation website
- Some events might have drug checking available and reagent tests can be purchased from stores like Cosmic and The Hemp Store. If you aren’t sure of what is in your drugs or where they came from, drug checking can give you information about what you are using. You can learn more about this on Know Your Stuff or check for any alerts on High Alert
Limits and boundaries
- How much are you going to drink or 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.
Eating and hydrating
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.
- If you have taken a break from drinking or using other drugs, you may have a lower tolerance – which means the substance will 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.
Reducing the impact
- You might want to consider if you have any responsibilities you need to plan for before you use. This could include work, family responsibilities or other social events.
- Planning ahead before you drink or use other drugs can help you feel prepared and reduce the stress of a comedown or hangover.
The 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 by KnowYourStuffNZ so far this summer were actually synthetic cathinones - not the MDMA that people thought they had.
- You can check High Alert for information about dangerous drugs that have been detected in the New Zealand market.
If you’re planning to use alcohol or drugs at an event, here are some tips to help you be safer.
- 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.
- KnowYourStuffNZ testing is finding more eutylone that has been sold as MDMA this summer. The euphoric feelings from eutylone wear off after an hour, read about why it is best not to take more (or take it at all) here.
Support your friends
- 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.
Don’t mix substances
- 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.
- You can see more information on interactions at Know Your Stuff.
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and not sharing equipment.
- If you are injecting, use a new syringe and sterile equipment every time.
Lower your risk of an overdose
This summer, 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 cause overdoses to be sure you aren’t close to that limit. Websites like www.tripsit.me can help with providing more information.
- 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 (e.g. overdose, panicked).
- Check the High Alert website for updates on drugs being sold under incorrect names that may be more dangerous. For example, a much more potent drug called eutylone is being sold as MDMA.
- 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.
Signs of an overdose
- 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 then place them in a stable position laying down on their side. Call 111 to get medical help, and start CPR if they have stopped breathing.
Reduce the impact 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.
Reflect on your use
Look back on the event and think about how things went.
- Did you follow your plan?
- How did what you used make you feel?
- Would you drink that way or use that drug again?
These questions might help you decide what changes you could make in the future.
Experienced 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.