Over the years one of the key messages that health educators have given to people who choose to use any sort of drug is to buddy up. Basically this means to stick closely with someone whom you trust when you take drugs, just in case things go wrong. It would be preferred if this person was not intoxicated but this is not always possible -“ so the message is stay with a friend and look after each other.
Of all the messages that have been put out there, this would have to be one that has been picked up and followed by the vast majority of drug users. It has definitely been the key message that the gay community has adopted and over the years we have often pushed the slogan, look after each other. We are well known for this and many people from outside the community comment on our behaviour in this area. As a result it has often played a part in our very positive relationships with law enforcement and health agencies.
GHB changed the way that some people respond due to its powerful disinhibiting effects. For the first time we found people, abandoned by their friends, who were experiencing problems after using drugs. There was often no malice associated with this behaviour; it was simply that drugs such as GHB, and of course alcohol, affect how we respond to certain situations.
At a recent event we had an issue with a young man who attended the party by himself. He really didn’t know anyone as he was a visitor to the country. During the evening he was found by other partygoers in great distress. He had obviously used too much GHB and was lapsing in and out of consciousness. The medical team swung into action and, after examining the young man thoroughly, decided that he did not need to be hospitalised. However, he did need to go home to recover from the experience. After questioning him and discovering that he knew no-one at the party and that he would need to be monitored for the next few hours at least, an ambulance was called and the young man was hospitalised.
It does not take too long to work out the impact of this young man’s actions. First of all a number of partygoers were seriously affected after finding him in great distress. The medical team spent almost two hours with him and then there were the additional costs to the ambulance service and the emergency department.
Don’t get me wrong -“ not one of these groups is complaining. I can guarantee you that all of those involved are just happy that he recovered fully but it is important to realise that much of this could have been avoided if the young man had been with a buddy.
Of course, this is not always possible -“ particularly if you are an international visitor. However, if you are going to party by yourself you need to take extra care. If you are going to use drugs, take less than you normally would, make sure you know where the medical teams are and take regular breaks to monitor yourself (does your breathing return to normal and are you able to cool down easily?). Look after yourself, look after your friends and keep our events safe.
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?