Have a safer night out

As we head into the summer party season, we take a look at how you can have a safer night out.

Parties that involve alcohol, drugs, and late nights can increase the chance of risky behaviour. If you have a better handle on what can go wrong, you’re more likely to know how to avoid those situations.

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What are some risks of a big night out?

Some of the risks can include:

  • People wanting to drive after taking drugs
  • People becoming aggressive or violent
  • Drink spiking, or being given a substance without knowing
  • Taking substances without knowing what it is
  • Blacking out, or overdosing

While the safest option is always to avoid taking drugs, there are ways you can keep yourself safer if you’re planning on having a big night out.

What can you do to stay safer?

Planning is a key part of having a safer night out. Make sure you have a plan to get home safely before the party kicks off. Find out as much as you can about where you’re going and make sure you know the address – store it in your phone so you can refer back to it later.

Staying in the company of friends you trust can go a long way to helping keep you safer. Agree with a friend that you’ll check in on each other during the night to see how you’re both doing. That way, you have someone to ask for help if something happens. If you’re going out, knowing where security staff are, in case you need help, can also help keep you safer.

If you’re planning on taking any kind of substance (including alcohol), it’s a good idea to avoid overdoing it. Taking too much of anything puts you at risk of serious harm – low doses are safer. Remember, dosing can vary wildly between substances, batches and even people – just because your friend is taking a certain amount, doesn’t mean you’ll react the same way.

Avoid mixing drugs – and that includes mixing with alcohol. The combined effects can be unpredictable and increases the risk of things going wrong.

Make sure you always know what you’re taking, and how to reduce the risk of overdose. The risks increase greatly when you don’t know what you’re taking – you’re unable to predict the effect it’ll have, how long it will last, how much to take, and what the health risks could be.

You can’t be sure what your taking is what you think it is supposed to be, because the person providing it to you may not know themselves. You can get an idea of what your drugs are made from, through reagent tests and drug checking services.

A reagent test indicates whether your substance contains what you were expecting - whether your MDMA actually has MDMA in it. However, it can’t tell you if there are other, possibly more harmful, substances in it. Reagent tests can be legally purchased from most stores that sell vaporisers, or online. A drug checking service can provide more detailed information about the contents of your drugs.

If you can’t feel any effects from what you’ve taken, don’t take more. It may take time for the effects to kick in, and you could end up taking too much and overdosing. 

Tell someone what you’ve taken, so they can get the right help if something goes wrong. Always tell emergency responders what someone has taken – you won’t get in trouble, and it could save a life.

Tell someone if you start feeling unwell and look after your mates – if they look like they’re getting into trouble, get help.

Call 111 in an emergency - this includes if someone is unconscious, stops breathing, has a seizure, is extremely agitated for longer than 15 minutes, or has chest pain or breathing difficulties for longer than 5 minutes.

If you or someone you know experience concerning or unexpected effects after taking something, please tell us about it. This will help keep others safe.

You can find out more about staying safer through the NZ Drug Foundation.

If you have any concerns about your own drinking or drug taking, get in touch with the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or text 8681. You’ll be able to speak with a trained counsellor who can provide you with helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential. You can also chat to the team through their website.