It’s time to party! Just make sure you always look after yourself and others
Well, that was quite the year! Another 12 months of intermittent lockdowns, online study and restrictions has been super hard for everyone. Do you feel the need to let loose this summer and just focus on catching up and enjoying yourself? We totally get it!
With the easing of restrictions, the next few months should be full of festivals, parties and other events for anyone who’s fully vaccinated. It’s a time for indulging and relaxing – but just remember to look after yourself and your mates while you’re having fun.
It’s your body
The first thing to consider is that you don’t have to drink alcohol or take drugs to have a good time. This is obviously the safest choice and means you can just focus on enjoying whatever event or activity you’re attending. While peer pressure can be hard to resist, it’s your body and there’s other ways to feel part of a group.
If you’re looking for safe ways to connect, try joining a club or doing a short course. DUSA is a great place to start or check out Deakin’s awesome – and free! – Summer Program of arty, social, sporting and outdoor activities.
Drinking or taking drugs? Know how to do it safely
If you do choose to use alcohol and other drugs, there’s a number of ways you can reduce the risks. The key is to plan ahead – ReachOut has some great tips on everything from knowing how you’re getting home to a guide for safe sex.
Try to drink alcohol moderately to avoid harming yourself and others around you. Learn what a ‘standard drink’ actually is, download an app like DrinkCoach to track your consumption and check out some tips for how to manage your drinking (and avoid a monstrous hangover!).
Taking illegal drugs should always be your personal choice. Remember that it doesn’t take much to turn a good time into a bad time, and there can be long-term effects on your health and lifestyle. To help you make an informed decision, we chatted to Dr Matthew Dunn, a Senior Lecturer in Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development, who shares some drug facts and advice on how to minimise the risks.
‘Having spent much of the past two years in lockdown, people may not know their limits and consume more than they normally would. Consuming at levels you have in the past might also cause harm because of reduced tolerance.
‘The most common drug we see at festivals or parties is alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, so it slows down (or depresses) the central nervous system. The most common illegal drugs are MDMA (otherwise known as ‘ecstasy’) as well as drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine. While these three drug types are slightly different, they’re all stimulants, so they speed up the central nervous system. We also know people like to mix energy drinks and alcohol at these events.
‘If a friend is having an adverse reaction, seek medical help as soon as possible. If you’re at a festival or dance party, go to the medical tent, or if the event has volunteers walking around ask them to call for help. If you’re at a house party, then call emergency Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
Be honest and upfront with what you or a friend have taken – you won’t get into trouble with the police.
‘The signs of an adverse reaction depend on the substance. Most people probably know what it’s like to be drunk, but with alcohol you should look out for adverse effects like confusion, severely slurred speech, loss of coordination and vomiting. In the summer, we need to remember that alcohol and heat don’t mix well.
‘With MDMA, some signs might include hyperthermia – a marked rise in body temperature – or even the reverse – feeling cold. Again, MDMA and the sun don’t mix well.’
Never be afraid to seek help
In an emergency
If you or a friend is in trouble, ask for help as soon as possible. Never be afraid to approach emergency services:
- At a festival, note where the paramedic tents are and how to access their services.
- If you’re out in the city, approach security or a staff member, or call Triple Zero (000).
If drug use is affecting your life
Worried about your substance use? There’s a range of support options and resources you could try:
- Deakin offers free counselling services to students located in Australia. It’s completely confidential and won’t affect your uni record in any way.
- Each state and territory offers a free 24-hour telephone alcohol and drug service that includes confidential counselling, information and referrals.
- The Victorian Poisons Information Centre (131 126) operates a 24/7 hotline if you or someone has overdosed or made a mistake with medicines. Call 131 450 if you don’t speak English or need translating and interpreting services.
- Drug Aware has easy-to-follow information on the different types of drugs and how they may affect you.
- Contact Lifeline for useful information and support on substance misuse and addiction.