It has to be said that everyone wants a good night out. However, along the way there are a lot of potholes you can fall into, which may leave you with some regrets. The trick is to recognise potential problems and to minimise any dangers you could expose yourself to. Alcohol and drugs such as marijuana, party pills and other chemical substances can seriously complicate – or ruin – what should be an enjoyable event.
It is well recognised that the drug of choice for many is alcohol. Studies estimate that 8% of the population have severe drinking problems, while more than a quarter of us drink more than the recommended guidelines. In a 2005 survey, 21.5% of NZ tertiary students reported experiencing a black-out related to alcohol use sometime in the previous four weeks. A black-out means they had limited or no memory of what they may have done while drinking, or who they were interacting with.
Other relevant data from the same survey reported that 14% of women and 16% of men stated that they either had unprotected sex, sex they were unhappy about at the time or sex they later regretted.
Exaggerating or enjoying experiences within a safe controlled environment is very different from mixing alcohol, drugs and sex when you are in unfamiliar places or with people you do not know or trust. Aside from all the horror statistics such as visits to the Emergency Department, physical and sexual assaults, robberies, road accidents, and loss of privacy and dignity, people can also experience long-term problems. These other problems include trouble with study, work, finances, relationships and a lessening of social status as a result of letting a night out get out of control. Quite apart from all that – with limited exceptions – alcohol and some other drugs do quite the opposite of enhancing sexual performance or enjoyment.
It is recognised that increased rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) are linked to drug use, including alcohol. This is because drugs such as alcohol lower your inhibitions and impair your judgement. People do things that they normally would not do, and expose themselves and others to significant risk of injury, infection, and illness.
Tips on Protecting Yourself
Take responsibility for yourself, and don’t blame drugs such as alcohol for your actions and their consequences. Remember the ALAC slogan: “It’s not the drinking, it’s how we’re drinking.”
In the ideal situation, if you are looking to have sex, be prepared with whatever you need to protect your health, e.g. have condoms, lube and/or dams with you, and if you are at risk of pregnancy consider using a regular form of contraception. Stay with people you know. It is generally safer to get to know someone before you have sex rather than afterwards. Strangers are risky sexual partners. Sex is okay if you both want it, but not if one of you is only doing it because you feel threatened or are too drunk or stoned to say no. It is possible to have fun and still be able to respect yourself and others.
Remember, when it comes to drugs – no use is the safest choice. However, if you chose to take drugs, educate yourself about the drugs you have decided to take. For relevant information, visit the Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS) website at http://www.cads.org.nz and go to the party drug guide section. For more information and support, you can also call the Alcohol & Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797.
Dr. Paul Quigley, Emergency Medicine Specialist at Wellington Hospital, presented a lecture on Drugs at Victoria University in 2006. His final comments were: “If you are going to take drugs, ingest them rather than smoking, snorting or injecting. If you are taking drugs daily, it means you are addicted. Don’t mix and match drugs.”
If you have any concerns regarding your health, please make an appointment at the Student Health Service, Te Ratonga Hauora Tauira. We’re here for you.