October 1, 2021

Dealing with our first social events after Lockdown 2.0

If you live in an area under stay-at-home orders, five fully vaccinated people can now gather outside. NSW is on target to reach 70% of the adult-population vaccinated by mid-October. While this sudden shift might be anxiety-inducing for some, it’s also very exciting and can also bring our attention onto drinking or taking drugs in social gatherings.

As we have not seen mates in ages, especially not in groups, it might be tempting to ‘overdo it’ and figuring out what ‘overdoing it’ means for you is important. With use of drugs like coke, MDMA and ketamine decreasing over the last 12-months, there’s a high probability that drug use in social settings will ramp up in the coming months as people make up for lost time.

Some tips on how to not completely overdo it with drink and drugs as lockdown eases:

  • Tell your mates what you are taking and if you want support in limiting your alcohol or drug consumption.
  • Don’t forget to eat and drink water.
  • Booze is a depressant and the day after can cause ‘hangxiety’, it’s actually the chemicals in your brain making you anxious after a drinking sesh. A hangover may see you dealing with headaches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, restless sleep and overall tiredness, an increased heart rate and/or blood pressure, trouble concentrating and dehydration. Eliminating alcohol from your body takes time. Rehydrating the body is important. Your liver can only work so fast and breaking down alcohol is achieved at a rate of approximately one standard drink per hour.
  • Stay COVID-safe: Don’t share drug equipment with others or drink from the same can, bottle, or straw. Sanitise the packaging your drugs come in before you use and wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
  • Know who you’re picnicking or socialising with to facilitate any contact tracing that might be necessary.
  • Be aware of your tolerance: If you stopped using, or used less, during this most recent lockdown, you might have a decreased tolerance. Consider taking less than what you normally would. Always start low and go slow. Take a small amount and wait until you feel the effects before using again.
  • Be aware of changes in drug purity: COVID-19 has impacted the drug market, which may affect what’s in whatever you’re taking. Take a small amount to start with and make sure the effects you’re feeling are the desired ones before taking any more.
  • Be mindful of local drug alerts: This year has seen the presence of fentanyl (a strong opioid) in a number of substances. Keep up to date with NSW Health drug alerts and Pivot Point to understand what they mean for you. Consider carrying Naloxone with you if the drugs you think you are taking might be at risk of containing fentanyl. You can get Naloxone for free from the Needle and Syringe Programs at our Sydney, Hunter, and Northern Rivers Offices. A fentanyl testing kit is one other consideration. Watch out for unexpected drug effects and if you are ever worried about yours or someone else’s health, please call 000 and ask for an ambulance.
  • Respect the boundaries of those around you: We all have different circumstances when it comes to COVID and our health and wellbeing. While you should always keep to the current restrictions, some people may have firmer boundaries, especially if they are susceptible to illness or come into contact with vulnerable populations. Check in with those around you about their boundaries and respect them.
  • Stay home if you’re unwell and get tested: It really sucks to miss the opportunity to connect with friends but spreading COVID sucks more.

If you would like to speak to a counsellor – our substance support info is here

If you would like to talk to a peer about sexualised drug use visit: https://endinghiv.org.au/toolkit/pnp-peer-chat/