One of the greatest problems facing any clubber or dance party-goer is the issue of how to get home safely. You may remember that a few weeks ago I discussed new guidelines developed by the UK government around safer clubbing. One of the major new thrusts of this campaign involved club owners and promoters’ responsibilities around ensuring that their patrons get home in one piece.

The guidelines identified the following as the main risks: clubbers driving home intoxicated either through drink or drugs; patrons leaving the event in need of medical help because of their level of intoxication; and clubbers leaving the event in an intoxicated state and vulnerable to accident or assault.

Of course, gay and lesbian events were at the forefront of examining this issue, mainly due to the prevalence of gay bashing and homophobic insults. Many events in Australia have provided special buses for patrons if the events are off the beaten track and these have proven extremely effective.

The dangers and illegality of driving with excess alcohol in the body are well known. However, driving when under the influence of drugs such as ecstasy, speed or even Special K is at least as dangerous as driving when exhausted. A recent Scottish study found that drug-driving was commonplace amongst those attending dance parties and/or nightclubs. Of the 61 people interviewed, 52 (85 percent) had driven after party drug use and 19 (31 percent) said that they did so on at least a weekly basis.

The UK guidelines suggest that venues should provide information about the risks of driving while intoxicated and also about public transport routes and taxi services. We are extremely lucky in Sydney that the vast majority of our venues are located in busy areas where public transport is provided and taxis are usually plentiful -“ anyone who has travelled overseas knows that the same cannot be said for many other major cities of the world.

One of the great problems that we do experience here is how a club and its staff respond to an intoxicated person. Many of us know of someone who has become intoxicated (on whatever substance) and then has left a club not always in the most ideal state. Staff at venues should be vigilant about the welfare of patrons leaving who appear to be intoxicated, particularly if they are on their own. The UK guidelines suggest that customers be approached and offered the chance to contact someone to pick them up and ensure they get home safely. We know that there is always the possibility of assault and the risks can only be greater when someone is not in complete control of their senses.

Venues have responsibilities but so do patrons. Once again, one of the most important messages we can convey to people who attend clubs and bars is to look after their friends.

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?

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