Staying Safe

Not using drugs is the safest option but there are other things you can do to keep yourself safe.

Taking safety measures

We promote responsible and safe use of alcohol and drugs. We do not require people to accept or condone drug use, however we recognise that some people continue to use drugs regardless of the risks. Here are some strategies that can be used to help lower the risks associated with use of alcohol and drug use.

Consider using less or stopping use

The only way to avoid all the risks is to not drink any alcohol or take any drugs which are not prescribed for you. Think carefully about the risks before you start.

Alcohol

  • For healthy men and women, drinking no more than 2 standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

  • For healthy men and women, drinking no more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

  • For children and young people under 18 years of age, or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Other Drugs

  • No use of drugs is the safest option. However, using less frequently or in smaller amounts can reduce risk. Even if a substance has been used before, it may work differently the next time. Wait until intended effects are felt before taking more.

Learn about the health effects, risks, and consequences
  • Find out about what you are using and understand tolerance and withdrawal – knowing about the intended effects can reduce the risks.

  • ADIS can give you information about effects and risks and what to look out for.

Alcohol & Drug Information 

Avoid using alone
  • There are risks of using alone, such as having accidents, being robbed or assaulted. Make sure someone else is with you, ideally someone you can trust to look after you if things go wrong.

  • Look after your friends. It’s ok to tell each other to take it easy; that’s what good friends do.

  • Don’t let anyone go off by themselves. If anyone becomes unwell, stay with them.

  • Some people can become aggressive. This can be a sign of someone having taken too much and may be an indicator of overdose.

  • If you or a friend have any worrying symptoms, call an ambulance on 000. Try to remain calm and reassure the person that you are there to help.

  • If the person has collapsed or lost consciousness, call an ambulance on 000.  
    If they have stopped breathing commence CPR. If they are breathing normally, place them into the recovery position.

Avoid mixing drugs
  • Mixing or combining drugs can increase the risk of overdose or adverse reactions – sticking to one drug or one type of drink is a safer choice. Be aware of possible interactions between alcohol, drugs and prescribed medication.

  • Remember that different drugs may have different rates of onset, and a slow response does not necessarily mean that the drug is weak – it may mean you have taken a slow-acting drug which could in fact be strong. Taking more could lead to overdose.

  • Start low and go slow, especially if you are taking a drug you have never used before. Take a small amount at first and let it reach its peak effect to test how strong it is.

  • Keep in mind that drugs that look the same as each other may not be the same. A pill or powder that looks like the one you took last week may in fact have entirely different drugs in it.

  • It is important to keep hydrated. Avoid alcohol as this causes dehydration. Energy drinks contain lots of caffeine which can increase the strain on the heart.

Consider safer ways of using

You can minimise the risks associated with alcohol and drug use by changing how you use. ADIS can help you to explore different strategies for your individual circumstances.

Swallowing

  • Stimulant drugs are caustic and can corrode soft tissues - this may result in damage to the lining of the nose, throat, oesophagus and stomach.

  • Ingest within a capsule/cigarette paper and plenty of water.

Smoking

  • Smoking equipment, e.g. pipes should not be shared.

  • Water pipe users should switch from using plastic bottles or cans to quality glass pipes to avoid inhaling ash, paint, dust, water and other particles into the lungs.

Snorting

  • Always use clean devices (i.e. a straw rather than plastic bank notes).

  • Don’t share devices; there may be traces of blood on equipment.

  • Alternate nostrils to lessen damage to one side.

  • If your nose is bleeding – give it a rest.

Injecting

  • Don't share any injecting equipment; this includes water, spoons and filters as well as needles and syringes - it is best practice to use a filter for drawing up.

  • Rotate sites.

  • Ensure any wounds are treated as soon as possible.

  • If there is heat, redness, swelling and or pain at injecting site, seek medical attention.

  • Ensure that your equipment is correct for its intended use.

  • Dispose of used needles and syringes safely.

  • If you are looking for services that can provide equipment, please search for the QLD Needle & Syringe Program in the app store.

Monitor your moods and emotions
  • Alcohol and drug use can impact your mental health. Some people experience low moods, anxiety, unusual thoughts and suicidal feelings after taking drugs, especially after a binge.

  • If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, make sure you talk to someone like a GP, an alcohol and drug service or mental health service immediately. ADIS can help you find a service.

Be prepared and careful
  • Using alcohol and drugs can impact your decision-making. Some common things to plan for can be your transport home to avoid drink/drug driving, and being prepared for safe sex.

  • Drugs can have different levels of purity and different cutting agents. Use an initial ‘taste test’ especially if using drugs from an unknown source.

  • Have a contingency plan if things go wrong, and know who you can call.

Consider the safety of others
  • Don’t drive when drinking or using.

  • Dispose of equipment safely e.g. use syringe disposal bins.

  • Learn first aid, especially resuscitation and the recovery position.

  • If you or a friend have any worrying symptoms, call an ambulance on 000. Try to remain calm and reassure the person that you are there to help. Place them into the recovery position if they are breathing normally.

Adopt a healthy, balanced lifestyle
  • It’s important to find a balance between work, play and rest.

  • Remember to eat well, sleep well and exercise.

  • Having regular check-ups with your GP will help you keep an eye on your health.