7 minute read
COVID-19 has changed the party scene in 2020 dramatically. Festivals have been cancelled, nightclubs are a thing of the past and many of us have moved our social lives online by keeping in touch with friends through apps like Zoom and House Party. Whilst these measures are necessary to help limit the spread of coronavirus, they present certain risks to those who choose to use alcohol and other drugs. The following advice will help keep you, your friends and family safe if you choose to use drugs.
Using alcohol and other drugs is harmful to your immune system. This is why it is important that you avoid using drugs if you are feeling unwell (whether its coronavirus or not). Make sure you take regular breaks from partying to give your body time to recover.
Looking after yourself by eating well (lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds) will help minimise the damage done by taking drugs. As will staying hydrated before, during and after a session.
Be mindful of your mental health. We are all under a lot of stress at the moment and many of us are feeling more anxious than normal. If your mental health isn’t up to it, save the partying for another time.
Meeting your dealer will always carry some risk but picking up is likely to be more conspicuous during lockdown. Weigh up the risks of picking up outside in a public place (risk of arrest) vs letting someone in your house or getting in someone’s car (risk of coronavirus). The balance of these risks will likely vary depending on your circumstances.
When making your order, ask what the delivery/pick-up process is going to look like. If you know what to expect, it’s easier to minimise the risks. For example, if you know you’re going to have to get into your dealers car, make sure you put on a mask and some gloves.
Dealers are likely to have come in to contact with lots more people than the average person during lockdown. To avoid the transmission of coronavirus, wipe down baggies/wraps with anti-bac or alcohol gel to kill any germs and wash your hands.
With venues closed and festivals cancelled you might have been using party drugs less than you usually would. This means your tolerance is likely lower than it was at the beginning of lockdown. Make sure you dose accordingly. Ideally, you should be weighing out your doses using a milligram scale. Another option is to learn how to do volumetric dosing (it’s easier than it sounds!). If at all possible, avoid eye-balling your dose. As always, follow the mantra “Start Low, Take it Slow”. You can always take more but if you take too much, you’re in it for the long haul.
There’s little evidence to suggest the drug supply has become more adulterated since lockdown began however it’s likely that this is not true across the board. To reduce the risk of taking adulterated drugs, test your stash. You can send off a sample to WEDINOS. Another way you can reduce the risk of an unpredictable experience is to only use one drug at a time.
Using drugs alone is never recommended because if something goes wrong there’s no-one there to help. However, under lockdown, this may be unavoidable. The best way to minimise the potential dangers of using drugs alone is to let someone know what you’re taking, when you’re going to be taking it and agree to check in with them at certain times to let them know you are ok. Make a plan for what you want your friend to do if they can’t reach you. For example, getting in touch with your housemate/neighbour. If you know a friend is using alone, make sure to check in on them too.
Putting something in your nose that has been in someone else’s is a great way to transmit coronavirus and blood borne viruses (BBVs) such as Hepatitis C. It’s now more important than ever that you do not share snorting equipment.Money is not a good choice for snorting drugs with- just think of how many hands have touched it! Use post-it notes instead (making sure the sticky bit is on the outside once it’s rolled up). A good tip is to use different colours so yours doesn’t get mixed up with your friends. If you’re dabbing drugs, divide the bag between your friends before you start taking it so you avoid dipping your finger in the same bag as everyone else. Any surfaces you use for preparing drugs (a mirror/your phone etc) should be disinfected between each use. If you’re taking nitrous oxide, make sure you aren’t sharing balloons.
The risk of a virus entering your body is increased if you have small cuts in your nose from snorting drugs that aren’t crushed up properly. Use a card and a piece of paper (or even better, a small pestle and mortar) to crush your drugs as finely as possible. At the end of a drug taking session, flush out your nose. Most damage is done by unabsorbed drugs sitting if your nose while you sleep. Invest in some nasal saline solution or, if you can’t get hold of any, snort some water.
If you’re smoking cannabis with other people, instead of rolling a king skin and sharing it, roll a single skin each. If you’re worried about your lung health, perhaps try changing how you consume cannabis and make some edibles! Remember the effects will take longer to appear; be patient and don’t be tempted to re-dose. Many a seasoned smoker has been caught out by an unexpectedly strong edible.
Using alcohol and other drugs will lower your inhibitions and you might be tempted to finally go and meet that Tinder match you’ve been chatting to since lockdown began. If you can’t help yourself, make sure to practice safe sex (this won’t protect you against coronavirus but at least you won’t get chlamydia too) and let someone know where you’re going and who you’re meeting.
Finally, be aware that without the usual structure to our lives, it’s easy to slip into more harmful patterns of drug taking. Try to keep track of how often you’re using drugs and how much you’re using each time. If you notice a change you’re not happy with, or feel like things are getting out of control, take a break and speak to someone about it. If you’re having issues, it’s possible you’re friends are too. Having open and honest conversations about your drug use helps reduce stigma in your friendship group and means that if someone is having a hard time, they know their friends will be there to support them.
Alternatively, contact BDP to talk to one of our harm reduction advisors (open Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm. Any messages left outside these hours will be picked up as soon as possible).
To find out more about club drugs and how you can reduce the harm they cause, browse The Drop section of our website.
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