In recent weeks you may have seen a series of posters in the street press dealing with a range of drugs including ecstasy, crystal, GHB and ketamine. This campaign has been developed by the Community Drug Strategies Branch of NSW Health and will be running for six months over the summer.

The campaign attempts to provide good quality information based on current research that will help keep people out of trouble. Rather than telling users what to do, it focuses on reminding users there’s a lot we don’t know about the drugs we use.

For example: how much GHB is too much; whether you’ll get addicted to ice; what long-term effects are caused by ecstasy; how much we know about what’s in that pill; and whether you have enough medical knowledge to let a friend sleep it off.

It’s a brave campaign, particularly in the present political climate, when we are seeing more and more abstinence messages being provided.

What research tells us is that those types of messages simply don’t work for some people, so it’s great to see the NSW government going out on a limb here and providing a campaign that doesn’t provide a simple just say no message.

The campaign acknowledges that the group they are targeting does not usually experience great harm but nevertheless there are particular behaviours that are problematic, e.g. not calling an ambulance when someone is unwell, smoking crystal, etc.

The group they are looking at is 18-25 years of age, well-educated, employed or studying full-time (at university or TAFE), and the majority have had little or no contact with the criminal justice system or drug treatment agencies. They’re not dependent and they take a pill just to add to a good night out.

They also acknowledge that the group is media-savvyand don’t trust a government drug campaign. Therefore there is no government branding (pretty amazing leading up to a state election), and instead the ads promote organisations such as the Australian Red Cross and UniMed first-aiders, and ACON.

Together with the posters comes a wallet-sized foldout information card called Drug Safety: Guide To A Better Night. This resource has been produced by NSW Health with the help of NDARC, ACON and the Australian Red Cross.

The guide to a better night is now available, so if you’re interested in getting your hands on one, make sure you look for them in pubs, clubs, sex venues, Gold’s and City Gym and King St pharmacy, health clinics, major parties throughout the season and ACON branches. ACON’s drug rovers will also have the guide to hand out at events.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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