How to stay safe when drinking or using drugs at Pride

Pride month calls for a big celebration, but safety should always come first when it comes to drinking or taking drugs. Here are some tips for using substances in moderation.

This article is about drug use at Pride. In the photo, pills of different shapes and colours.
Image: Via Unsplash - Myriam Zilles

Dublin Pride is just around the corner, and it’s time to party hard- but maybe not too hard. While of course the best way to protect yourself is to abstain from drugs and alcohol altogether, if drug and alcohol use is a part of your plan this Pride, here are some tips on how to partake responsibly.

A little can go a long way when it comes to drinking, so regulating consumption is key to not going overboard.

First, it is important to know your limits. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that one standard drink is equal to one regular beer, one glass of wine, and one shot of hard liquor. Although it may not seem like much, just one drink is enough to impair driving and reflexes. According to the NIAAA, heavy drinking consists of at least 4 drinks in a day for women and 5 drinks for men.

If heavy drinking is taking place, remember to pace yourself. Spacing out your drinks can help give the body time to adjust to the rising blood alcohol content. Before and in between drinks, eating food and drinking water will also guide the progress of heavy drinking. 

As do all drugs, ketamine has a series of risks that one should be aware of before use, but there are ways to avoid or reduce the harm it may cause.

Ketamine is an extremely powerful drug, and it can be difficult to measure exactly how much is being consumed. Drugs and Alcohol Information Support says the strength of the drug can be different, even if it is from the same batch. It can also depend on the person consuming the drug, as it affects everyone differently. To account for this, make sure it is taken in a safe setting around trusted peers.

Taking ketamine in addition to alcohol, other drugs, or prescription medications can also cause strain on the body. Psychedelic effects, slowed breathing, increased chance of vomiting, and feeling overwhelmed are all possible risks that can happen when combining ketamine with other substances. Taking only ketamine in small doses is key to reducing these dangers.

Cocaine is a common party drug and may be seen while celebrating Pride. However, the rush is not always worth the risk with this stimulant drug.

Taking cocaine in small doses is extremely important regarding the safety of users. Similarly to ketamine, it can be difficult to know the purity level of the dose that is taken. This is why cocaine should never be taken when you’re alone, and always keep a trusted peer around in case of an emergency.

Cocaine can also cause physical effects on the body. Snorting cocaine can damage the thin tissues in the nose and, in extreme cases, can create a hole completely through the nasal septum. It is recommended to avoid snorting if any pain or nosebleeds are experienced. Using clean surfaces and paraphernalia is also essential to avoiding harm to the body.

Alkyl Nitrites/ Poppers
Poppers are one of the most commonly used drugs in Ireland, yet there are still serious safety concerns that should be taken into account.

Poppers should never be touched, injected, or consumed in any way other than inhaling. Alkyl nitrites burn the skin, which can cause rashes and soreness to any area of skin that has come in contact. It is also highly flammable, so being aware of any lighters, candles, etc. is a major safety concern. 

There is a fine line between a high and an overdose when it comes to G, so taking precautions can make all the difference.

G is also known as a “date rape drug“, making its effects on the body very serious. Premeasuring G is a must for users. It should also be noted to never drink from the bottle and never share, as it can be difficult to determine exact measurements. A high for one person can knock another unconscious, so always take small doses.

If a user does go unconscious, seek medical attention and place them in the recovery position. This position will prevent choking and help to ensure levels of safety.

Drink Spiking
Drink spiking refers to the action of slipping a substance into someone’s drink without their knowledge. Although it is a crime, drink spiking unfortunately still occurs today, with about 50-100 cases per year in Ireland. Precautions to avoid this event are necessary to ensure safety.

Undoubtedly, it is important to never leave a drink unattended. If necessary, have a trusted friend look after the drink. Keeping an eye on it reduces the risk of becoming a target, as spiked drinks typically don’t look or taste any different. 

In addition, do not accept drinks from strangers or distant acquaintances. Anything being consumed should come from a trusted source, so avoiding unknown drinks reduces the chances of any harm that may be caused. As an extra precaution, stick to drinking from cans or sealed bottles to eliminate any possibility of the drink being spiked.

In the event that a drink is spiked, telling or calling a trusted person is the first step. Calling 999 is also favourable if it is an emergency. It is crucial to be weary of those who may be helping, as it could be someone with bad intentions. Going to the nearest emergency department to ensure safety and well-being is highly recommended, along with filing a police report as soon as possible.

Above all, the best way to stay safe is to avoid substance use altogether. However, using in moderation is a highly effective strategy for a safer, excellent Pride celebration.

For more information on drug and alcohol consumption, visit this page on the HSE website. For more information on chemsex, check out the Ma2Man dedicated webpage.

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