Samuel Andrews, Harm Reductions Projects Adviser at the NZ Drug Foundation gives us top harm reduction tips to ensure you can enjoy the party as well as the next day, regardless of what substances you are using.

As summer approaches with Christmas, New Year’s and beach holidays so does the party season. For some that will mean a drink on the deck, others it may be more adventurous.

Plan for the good time:


It is safest not to use drugs, but if you are going to, some planning can go a long way in helping you be safer.

  • Test to know what you have. The drug market has become an increasingly unpredictable and dangerous space. Use a drug checking service or reagent kit (that you can purchase from Cosmic) to know what you are taking. If the substance is unknown avoid it.
  • Measure your dose to ensure you can last the night, remember it and be ready for the next day. Decide how much you want to use when you are sober and stick to it by only carrying that on you. If you weigh less you are likely to be more affected so use less and start slower.
  • Avoid mixing substances as this increases the risk of overdose. Think about the medications you are on and remember alcohol is a drug that often doesn’t play nice with others. If the substances have different effects (such as cocaine and alcohol) it can be hard to know how intoxicated you are and you may end up using more than you intended.
  • Be with people you trust. Sometimes things don’t go to plan and drugs can be really overwhelming. Tell people what you are intending to take in case you run into trouble. If a friend is in overdosing call 111 for an ambulance and stay with them.

Plan for the recovery:

It is important to give your body and brain time to recover. If you are having a big night make sure you don’t have commitments planned for the next day so you can sleep. Keep hydrated before, during and after using and catch up on any missed meals.

-MDMA: also referred to as ecstasy or molly, is a stimulant that releases of serotonin (a hormone linked to pleasure and feeling good)

  • Keep hydrated by drinking water take breaks from dancing to cool down
  • Medication to manage anxiety or depression (SSRI’s) effect the same part of the brain as MDMA. SSRI medication prevents serotonin from being reabsorbed. This means it will take longer to get back to balance and can result in feelings of anxiety, paranoia and confusion for the next few days.

-Cocaine: is a short-acting stimulant that quite often contains other substances

  • If alcohol and cocaine are used together metabolise in the liver to produce cocaethylene. This is a toxin that puts stress on the vital organs especially the heart and liver. The effects of drinking are also masked so count your drinks to avoid drinking more than you normally would.

-Chemsex: is a high-risk practice combining methamphetamine, GHB and erection medication in a sexual setting.

  • Don’t use alcohol as it is very easy to overdose when combined with GHB. If you are joining a session after drinking, avoid GHB.
  • Methamphetamine will keep you awake for a long time, catch up on the sleep and food you missed. Always use sterile equipment if injecting and never share.

If your drinking or drug use is starting to concern you or others call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797.

Take care as you explore the world.