Ready to party? How to stay safe while you have fun
The countdown is on! There’s only a few more sleeps until the end of uni for 2022 – and we bet you’re ready for a break.
Summer is the perfect time to let loose with your family and friends. Whether you’re into festivals and parties, you’re keen to explore the great outdoors or you’re heading off on a long-planned trip, please look after yourself and your mates while you’re having fun.
Remember: it’s your body
Drinking alcohol or taking drugs is a personal choice. While peer pressure can be hard to resist, it’s your body and there’s other ways to have a good time or feel like you belong. You may prefer to just focus on enjoying the event, or perhaps you’re happy to be the designated driver for your 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 events calendar 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 ways to 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.
According to Dr Matthew Dunn, Senior Lecturer in Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development, the most common illegal drugs are MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine and cocaine. While these three drug types are slightly different, they’re all stimulants, so they speed up the central nervous system. They’re also commonly mixed with energy drinks and alcohol.
How do you know if you’re having a bad reaction to drugs? ‘The signs depend on the substance,’ says Dr Dunn. ‘Most people probably know what it’s like to be drunk, but with alcohol you should look out for 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.’
Be aware of your surroundings
If you’re heading to a festival in the country or are going camping, remember that Australian conditions are unpredictable. To be prepared, be aware of the bushfire rating and download the VicEmergency app (AppStore and Google Play).
If you’re driving anywhere, keep yourself and others safe by always staying within the speed limit. Never drive when you’re tired, when you’ve had alcohol or drugs, or while using your mobile.
Never be afraid to seek help
If you or a friend is in trouble, ask for help as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to approach emergency services and be honest about what you or a friend have taken – you won’t get into trouble with the police:
- At a festival, note where the paramedic tents or volunteers are.
- If you’re at a house party, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
- If you’re out in the city, approach security or a staff member, or call Triple Zero (000).
Is drug use affecting your life?
If you’re worried about your substance use, try these support options and resources:
- 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. To chat to a Lifeline-trained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter, call 13YARN (13 92 76) to yarn in a safe way without judgement.