Effects and risks of drugs
Drugs can alter the way your body functions and the way you feel. Alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, GHB, LSD, heroin, inhalants, marijuana and speed are among the many drugs around these days. There are no controls on what illegal drugs contain - you never really know what you're getting.
Do drugs have the same effect on different people?
The effects of any drug vary from person to person. Things like the type of drug, who is taking it (gender, health status, age, weight, state of mind, experience with drugs), how much is used, where it is used and how the drug is taken will all have an effect on a person's reaction to a drug.
Know the harms
Being well informed about the harms associated with drug use is important. For example some drugs, such as ecstasy and speed, raise the body's temperature, while alcohol dehydrates the body.
- Take regular rests from dancing - use a chill-out space to rest or recover
- Wear light, absorbent clothing
- Always watch your drink to avoid drink spiking
- 'Sip don't skol' - sip half a litre of water an hour - don't skol it all at once
Remember, no drug use is safe but if you do use drugs there are some things you can do to reduce harms to yourself and others. Drugs affect people in different ways for a whole range of reasons so don't assume a drug will affect you in the same way that it affects others.
- Plan ahead so you don't do anything that puts you in a risky situation
- Don't mix drugs - mixing drugs with alcohol, another drug, or prescription medicine may cause serious side effects
- Don't drive, swim or operate heavy machinery after taking drugs as there is an increased risk of harming yourself or others
- If you are having sex, use a condom to avoid contracting HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections or an unwanted pregnancy
Don't do it alone
- Make sure someone else knows what you are doing in case you become sick or unconscious and need treatment
- If you feel unwell, tell someone and get help, and move to a chill out area
- Look after each other - if things go wrong you'll need someone to get help
- If someone collapses, call an ambulance immediately, turn them onto their side to avoid choking and stay with them until the ambulance arrives - remember, get help - ambos and the police are there to help you
Make sure you are well informed about the effects of alcohol and other drugs. Find out the effects of common drugs at the Australian Drug Foundation (new window). Friends are not always a reliable source of this information.
What to do in an emergency
If someone becomes ill, it is important to:
- Call an ambulance (dial 000, anywhere in Australia, 112 if mobile out of range) as fast as you can
- When it arrives tell the ambulance officer exactly what the ill person has been taking
- If the person has collapsed while waiting for the ambulance, lay the person on their side in the recovery position to keep their airways open
- Try to keep the person cool, you can do this by using cold water, a wet cloth or tea towel, or ice packs
Drug use and the law
If you do use drugs (new window) during schoolies, you may come into contact with the police. Types of offences you could face include use, possession and trafficking if you possess a 'trafficable quantity' of drugs. This is an amount that is stated in the law and is different for various types of drugs. Note trafficking includes selling or giving drugs away to friends. All of these offences attract serious penalties.
youthcentral - Drugs
A good starting point for links to information and the real issues and effects of using drugs.
DrugInfo - Drug information
Find out about a range of drug issues including information about specific drugs.
ReachOut - Alcohol and other drugs
Straightforward information about drug and alcohol use, the different types of drugs, safer drug taking, what to do if a friend takes an overdose, how to seek treatment for a drug problem and other related drug issues.
Better Health Channel - Drugs and teenagers
Information about teenagers and drug use, common types of drugs, preventing drug use and where to get help.