The second of the Toybox messages for this Mardi Gras period is, Buddy Up: Find a friend and stick with them through the day ahead. Over the years this has been one of the key messages that health educators have given to people who choose to party.

Basically buddy up means to stick closely with someone whom you trust when you go out partying 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 alcohol and other drug users.

It has definitely been the key message that the gay and lesbian 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.

Unfortunately one of the worst problems that we have experienced with GHB is how it has changed the way that some people respond to emergency situations due to its powerful disinhibiting effects.

For the first time we found people experiencing problems after using drugs who had been abandoned by their friends. 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.

With the party season ahead and hopefully a very clear mind at present, this is a good time to sit back and do a little thinking about who you party with and why.

Are they reliable or will they wander off with the first gorgeous guy or girl who wanders past leaving you by yourself in a potentially dangerous situation?

Do you want to be the buddy of someone who you know gets into difficulty on a regular basis? The buddy system is very powerful, but with it comes responsibility.

You may need to be able to look after someone else in case something goes wrong and there is always the possibility that you could put your buddy in that very same role.

Some people will party by themselves, either by choice or by necessity. If you are going to party by yourself you need to take extra care -“ 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 all of our Mardi Gras season 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?/p>

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