By Alfa · Jul 5, 2005 ·
  1. Alfa

    Are You Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, Sad Or Sick

    A safe partying guide launched this week says if the answer to any of the above is yes, then you should not use drugs or alcohol but instead stay home and relax.

    The guide, called sorted2, has been published by Community Alcohol and Drug Services (Cads), based in Auckland. It aims to help people make informed choices and know the risks of the drugs they are taking.

    First aid organisation St John supports the publication, saying anything that highlights the dangers of drugs and improves awareness is a positive move.

    Cads regional manager Robert Steenhuisen said the service, which provides education and counselling for people with drug and alcohol problems, did not endorse the use of illegal substances but accepted people would take them.

    Since the first booklet was published in 1999, the variety of substances available had changed, as had the way they were used, their chemical make-up and the known side-effects. Party pills had become particularly popular.

    Mr Steenhuisen said the most common misconception about party pills was that they were "herbal highs", but the active ingredients, including benzylpiperazine (BZP), were synthetically produced.

    Some were labelled as dietary supplements but "no normal, balanced diet"

    contained these chemicals, he said.

    "While party pills cost less and don't involve the risk of legal consequences - there are risks in people believing that because something is legal it's safe to use."

    Mr Steenhuisen said the title sorted referred to "getting your information about drugs organised before a night out". It suggested people plan ahead, eat a meal before going out, avoid alcohol, party with trusted friends, drink enough water and put money aside for a taxi home.

    The guide also included detailed information about different types of drugs, from party pills and Ecstasy to magic mushrooms and cocaine.

    Adam Johnston, regional events manager for St John Northern Region, supported any publication that increased public awareness about party drug dangers.

    In the past two years its paramedics had noticed a significant increase in the number of people suffering life-threatening overdoses from herbal party pills. At one major gathering in Auckland, it had dealt with five critical overdoses from the pills.

    Mr Johnston said St John attended about 2000 events each year in the Northern Region, from community gatherings to dance parties.

    He said people would continue to use recreational drugs and any moves to try to ban them would drive them underground.

    Auckland City Hospital intensive care specialist Dr Tony Smith said, in general, people were better off being educated.

    "Educating people about drugs doesn't necessarily make them take more, or people who wouldn't otherwise take drugs, take drugs," he said.

    * Copies of sorted2 are available from any Community and Drug Alcohol unit or using the link below.

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