Over the next few weeks there will be Christmas and New Year parties held all over Sydney. Many of these will be held at homes where the owners may not have taken the time to think about their responsibilities should anything go wrong.

Alcohol continues to play a major role in parties held at people’s homes but increasingly we’re seeing a greater use of other drugs in these environments. Times have changed dramatically over the past decade with many more people now choosing to party at home than ever before. This could be due to a number of factors, but with the introduction of a range of new police interventions such as sniffer dogs and roadside drug testing, the chances of getting caught are far greater and many people do not appear to want to take the risk. This does not necessarily mean they’re going to stop using illegal drugs. For many they’ll simply take them in a place that they regard as more safe -“ the home.

New figures released last month show many more people elect to use a variety of drugs at their home or their friends’ homes than ever before. These results are part of the Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System. The figures from NSW vary depending on the drug used, but as expected the drugs more likely to be used away from venues are GHB or crystal. Ecstasy appears to be the one drug that is far more likely to be used in a nightclub or dance party setting.

Due to the risk of overdose it is no surprise that GHB is often used in the home environment -“ although the deaths that we have had from G in our community have all been ones arising from use at home. As for crystal, its use away from the nightclub environment is most probably due to the paraphernalia (i.e. crystal pipe) used to take the drug. This is not always a barrier though, as not too long ago I had to look after someone in a club who had sliced their ankle open due to a pipe smashing after they had placed it in the side of their shoe when they went clubbing.

One of the real risks of partying at home is not being able to guarantee that there will be somebody around to look after you if something goes wrong. The chances of having someone completely sober at the home are much smaller. At a venue, there are always staff available to ensure patron safety and to call an ambulance if one is needed. Even though people holding parties want to ensure the health and wellbeing of their friends is maintained, there is often a reluctance to call for help for fear of attracting unwanted attention (something many venues are often accused of). As a result they hold off calling for assistance and unfortunately this has led to tragic deaths in our community in the past.

If you are thinking about holding a party over the Christmas-New Year period and you think that drugs may play a part, make sure you take time to think about what could go wrong. Make rules, ensure all your guests know them and stick to them. Sounds a little depressing but being prepared will go a little way to ensuring the safety of you and your friends.

Have a safe and happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

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