Responding in a crisis

When you encounter someone who is distressed or drug-affected, your immediate concern should be for their safety and the safety of others.

This includes monitoring them for signs of overdose, or psychosis, and calling 111 if needed.

The NZ Drug Foundation has a number of helpful tips to keep in mind to help manage a crisis.

Talk as quietly and calmly as possible so things don’t escalate. 

Be reassuring, especially if they are talking about getting help.

Make sure their immediate needs are met, such as keeping them warm and giving them water. Try to keep them with you so you can monitor their mental and physical state, but do not hesitate to call the police or for an ambulance if necessary.

Be encouraging and take their desire for help at face value.

If you are unsure about what to do, call the Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797), which is open 24 hours. Be aware their attitude towards getting help could change when they are no longer high, or feeling less anxious.

Wait until your loved one calms down or comes down.

When a person is in a drug-affected state, it is not be the best time for them to speak with a treatment agency.

When they are completely calm, have a conversation with them about getting help. If they are still serious about it, help them get in touch with a local treatment agency, offer to go with them as a support person. If you’re unsure of who to contact, encourage them to call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline, and stay with them until they do.

Follow up with them afterwards.

You may be able to support them and keep them focused on getting help. It’s often a long process, so be prepared: You may be in for the long haul.

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 This article originally appeared on the NZ Drug Foundation website.