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Staying safe at parties and clubs

A few simple choices can keep you in control so you don’t get in over your head

Young adults standing at a bar in a club with drinks

Being safe doesn’t have to mean being boring!

Know how to handle yourself in difficult situations so you can look after yourself and your friends.

Most of the time you can party without anything going wrong. But there’s always a chance of something happening that’s stressful, out of your control, dangerous or life threatening.

If you’re going to be partying and clubbing then learn ways to stay safe so you don’t find yourself in a situation that’s uncomfortable or dangerous.

Why is binge drinking and drug use a big deal?

You’ve probably had people in your life tell you, or heard it said in the media that binge drinking and drug use are negative things. 

There’s good reason for this. In fact, there are a few good reasons why drug use is illegal and why people are discouraged from binge drinking:

  • Your brain and body are going through a really important growing phase – drinking and drug use can affect your developing brain and your overall health
  • It can mess with your judgement and decision making skills – meaning you could end up in a risky situation and not be able to make good choices in order to get out of it
  • Being intoxicated makes you vulnerable – it puts you at increased risk of being assaulted or seriously hurt
  • Some people use alcohol and drugs as a way of coping or just to have fun – but it can be highly addictive which can be very hard to recover from.

Protect yourself and stay in control

Partying is fun! If it wasn’t, you probably wouldn’t be doing it. But there are a bunch of risks that come with partying especially if there’s heavy drinking and illicit drug use.

Here are some of the stuff that you want to protect yourself from:

Being intoxicated and losing control of yourself
Driving while intoxicated, accidents and injuries
Feeling sick, vomiting, overdosing, possibly even death
Acting aggressively, being physically assaulted or assaulting others
Getting arrested for underage drinking in a public place or illicit drug use
Unsafe or unwanted sex, contracting sexual diseases, unplanned pregnancy
Sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape
Arguments or fights with friends and family, loss of trust or respect

General tips for safe partying

Having a great time also means making great choices

Stay with friends you trust, don’t go off on your own

Keep your wits about you and stay in control of yourself

Don’t get into a car if there’s drinking or drugs involved

If you’re going to drink do it in moderation and pace yourself

Eat food and drink water as this slows the absorption of alcohol

Trust your gut instinct – if it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it

If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable it’s time to leave

If a friend is upset or unwell, stay with them until their person comes to pick them up

Don’t go off with someone you just met – if you’re interested in them, get their number

Avoid accepting drinks or drugs from other people - you don’t know what might be in them

If there’s a change of location tell your parents or an adult you trust where you’re going

If you don’t want to drink alcohol or take drugs - don’t! Having fun isn’t about being drunk or getting high

Before going to the party or club organise your travel to and from the  venue – choose public transport, taxis or get a lift from someone who isn’t drinking

In an emergency call 000

Drinking alcohol

Check out these tips for managing your alcohol intake so you can keep risks to a minimum and focus on having a good time

  • Pace yourself with a ‘spacer’ (eg. water) in between drinks. Try non-alcoholic or low alcohol drinks.
  • Don’t top your drinks up before finishing them. You want to keep track of how much you’re drinking.
  • When you’re ready for another drink, pour it/order it yourself rather than letting someone else do it for you. You want to know exactly what’s in it.
  • Drinking games can put you on the fast track to getting drunk and losing control of yourself. If you want to try a drinking game then swap the alcohol for a low alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Watch your drinks and don’t leave them out in the open. Someone might sneak drugs into your drinks (‘drink spiking’). You could feel really drunk, dizzy, tired or faint. Tell a friend or adult straight away if you have any of the signs of drink spiking.

“I bring my own drinks to a party so I know how much I’m having and I know exactly what I’m having” - Chloe, 18

Young people around a beach bonfire with drinks and cigarettes

Drug taking

Knowing some facts about drug taking and the risks involved can make a difference. It means that you can make better choices by being more informed.

Some things to keep in mind when it comes to drug use:

  • A ‘medicated drug’ is bought with a prescription from a doctor. While ‘non-medicated’ drugs are unregulated and illegal, so you never know what you’re going to get.
  • It’s illegal for anybody of any age to use a non-medicated drug. This is usually what people are referring to when they say ‘drugs’. They’re also called ‘illicit drugs’.
  • Both medicated and non-medicated drugs can be deadly.
  • To learn more about different types of drugs check out our Drugs and Alcohol article.
  • When someone sells or offers you drugs you never really know what’s in them eg. if they’re ‘pure’ or ‘cut’ drugs, which can have different effects. It increases the risk that you could have a bad reaction.
  • Sharing needles used to inject drugs is never a good idea. People may not know they have a disease such as HIV or hepatitis which you might end up getting.
  • Because illicit drug use is illegal, if you get caught it could lead to an arrest, charges and you could go to court. If a conviction is recorded it can impact on your future plans like travel and employment.
  • Mixing alcohol and drugs together can increase the risk that something could go wrong. It can even be life threatening.
  • If you use a drug make sure a friend or someone you trust (who isn’t taking drugs) knows about it. They can be there to help if something goes wrong.

In an emergency call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Ambulance officers won’t call the Police unless there is a death or somebody is seriously or permanently injured.

Young adults with drinks taking a selfie at a concert

Violence and aggression

Sometimes fights break out when people have been drinking or using drugs. Here are some warning signs, tips and ways to diffuse the situation:

Warning signs:

  • ‘Gate-crashers’ or people you don’t know join the party
  • Heavy drinking or drug use which can lead to people losing control
  • Increased yelling, shouting, swearing or someone saying things to provoke another person into a fight
  • Someone already tried to start a fight with you or somebody else

 

Tips to stay safe when a fight is brewing:

  • Keep a respectful distance and avoid eye contact with ‘gate-crashers’
  • Have a clear pathway to the exit if things get out of control
  • If somebody tries to start a fight, apologise and make your exit
  • Don’t try to reason with someone who is intoxicated – just walk away
  • If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and leave
  • If a friend is getting into a fight, try distracting them away from the situation and take them away somewhere safe if you can
  • If you feel threatened or unsafe get help immediately

If somebody is punched or assaulted it’s really important to get support. Assault is illegal, has serious impacts and can be very hard to deal with alone.

Sex and sexual assault

Getting drunk or high can make you more vulnerable to unwanted sex or sexual assault. It can also lead to pressuring or aggressive sexual behaviour towards another person.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Unplanned sex:

  • Heavy drinking or drug use affects your ability to make decisions. Avoid getting ‘plastered’ or ‘smashed’ and stay in control of yourself. If you do get very intoxicated, try to do it in a safe place with people you trust.
  • Unplanned sex means that you might not be prepared eg. not have condoms. This can lead to unplanned pregnancy if you don't use any protection, or you might end up with a sexually transmitted disease if you don't use a condom.
  • You might have a sexual experience with somebody and then regret it when you’re sober. This can impact your relationships and might lead to conflict, embarrassment and a loss of trust.

 

Sexual assault:

  • Sex should never be forced on someone.  Sex should only happen when both people consent.
  • If you feel pressured to have sex you have the right to say ‘no’ if you don’t want to do it and to be respected for your choice.
  • Recognise when you are pressuring someone for sex. It’s not ok to put your own needs above the needs of somebody else for your own sexual pleasure.
  • Remember, if you are sexually assaulted it is NEVER your fault. No matter how drunk or vulnerable you may be. It’s never ok and it’s illegal. Talk to someone you trust and get support.

Be in the know – stay in control

Keep your wits about you and have fun!

There’s always going to be risks involved when partying. We’ve outlined a few of them here. Use this information to make good choices next time you’re at a party.

And remember, staying safe doesn’t mean not having fun – you can do both! It’s about making smart choices and doing what’s right for you.

For more support and information give us a call today. Talk to one of our counsellors on 1800 55 1800, start a WebChat or send us an email.

This content was last reviewed 08/06/2018

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