The busy Mardi Gras party season is the highlight of the social year for many revellers. But it’s traditionally been a trying time for inner-city emergency rooms, which usually face an increase in drug-related overdoses or illness.

This year, though, the picture was somewhat brighter in Sydney’s inner east, with the St Vincent’s Hospital emergency department handling fewer party drug problems than expected.

On the Monday before Mardi Gras, the department recorded 10 party drug-related cases -“ what St Vincent’s director of emergency services Dr Gordian Fulde called a really big blip.

But by the Mardi Gras weekend, it seemed recreational drug users were playing it safer. Between 6pm on the night of the Mardi Gras parade and 6am the following morning, St Vincent’s had about a dozen party drug-related admissions, mostly linked to gamma-hydroxybutyrate, known as GHB or G.

The good news, and that was reflected through the week and especially on the Mardi Gras weekend [was that] that number of severe overdoses, people who are severely unconscious, really stop breathing, who we have to intubate -¦ was small, Fulde told Sydney Star Observer.>/p>

We expected more.

The outstanding feature this year was that they were a lot more sensible -¦ because fewer were critically ill.

The department also saw fewer party drug problems on the Monday after Mardi Gras compared with last year, when it was bombed with patients.

Fulde said it was difficult to determine why drug overdose presentations had dropped this year, but hoped partygoers were heeding public health messages.

I’d like to think it’s better information, he said.

I think word has got out that you’ve just got to be careful.

Fulde said the prevalence of GHB-related cases remained a concern. The drug accounted for about 90 percent of admissions at St Vincent’s around Mardi Gras this year.

This included people who had taken the drug while alone.

There’s this really clear trend that G is not just for people out [partying].

That’s also a worrying trend. We don’t like people to take G alone at home because there’s nobody to look after them, Fulde said.

Or if two people take it and they both go down, that’s going to have bad consequences.

Adding alcohol to party drugs also increased the risk.

The whole message is that you shouldn’t bloody mix your drugs -“ that’s disastrous. And alcohol makes G worse.

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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