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December 20, 2017

Staying safe during the holiday season

Many of us enjoy socialising, and in many cases, these situations include the use of ‘psychoactive substances’ like alcohol, illicit drugs or even medication (over the counter or via a prescription).

To ensure you stay safe during events and festivities, there are some things that can be done when deciding to use certain substances. This is particularly important if you are going to use:

  • A pill, powder or crystal such as ecstasy/molly/MDMA
  • A research chemical such as mephedrone or alpha-PVP (commonly known as bath salts or flakka)
  • A synthetic cannabinoid such as Kronic, Pegasus, Mojo, Wolf or Hypernova

Things you can do before you use

  • The safest option is always not to take drugs, especially if you are unsure of the strength or the effects they might cause.
  • It’s a good idea to start small – have a test amount first, and wait two hours before taking more. This is to see if you experience any negative side effects and to help you understand how strong the drug is and its effects. Avoid taking large amounts of any drug.
  • Investigate and find out as much as you can about the drug you are intending to take through our Drug facts pages.
  • If you’re feeling down or depressed, it probably isn’t a good idea to take drugs or drink alcohol as they can intensify these feelings.
  • If you are injecting, it’s important to use clean injecting equipment and avoid sharing needles or other equipment, including spoons, tourniquets and mixing-up water.

Things you can do while you are using

  • Avoid using alone, if you overdose, you want someone around to help. (If no one is around, write it down somewhere.)
  • It’s best not to mix drugs. Taking different drugs at the same time (including alcohol, prescription medicine and over-the-counter drugs) can have unpredictable effects and may increase the risk of harm.
  • Limit caffeine use. Some drugs may contain caffeine, having too much caffeine can cause heart problems, so avoid drinking large amounts of coffee or energy drinks when taking drugs.
  • Ecstasy, dehydration and overheating. Ecstasy is commonly taken at dance parties, festivals or nightclubs. In these environments, people may engage in energetic dancing which can raise body temperature to dangerous levels. It is therefore advisable to take regular breaks to cool down and drink about 500ml of water per hour. Drinking too much water while taking ecstasy is also dangerous, as deaths have occurred from dilutional hyponatremia—a condition whereby a person’s brain swells from drinking too much water, inducing a coma.
  • Stick with your friends. Drugs can prevent you from thinking clearly, so it’s important to stay with your friends and avoid risky situations.
  • Don’t drive or swim. Drugs can sometimes affect your reflexes, response times and judgement, so avoid driving or swimming. This includes when you are coming down from drugs, as some substances can take a few days to leave your system.

If someone overdose or has an adverse reaction while using a drug, it is very important that they receive professional help as soon as possible. A quick response can save their life.  

  • Dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance. Ambulance officers are not obliged to contact the police.
  • Stay with the person until the ambulance arrives.
  • Find out if anyone at the scene knows cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Ensure the person has adequate air by keeping crowds back and opening windows. Loosen tight clothing.
  • If the person is unconscious, don’t leave them on their back—they could choke. Turn them on their side and into the recovery position. Gently tilt their head back so their tongue does not block the airway.
  • If breathing has stopped, apply CPR.
  • Provide the ambulance officers with as much information as you can, such as what was taken and the amount, how long ago and if there are any pre-existing medical conditions.