party 101
A good party can be an amazing way to bond with friends and be wowed by some stellar DJs & entertainment. And as most of us who have spent any time with our hands in the air on a dance floor know, the use of party drugs of one kind or another is part of the scene. While we believe that a great party can happen without the drugs, we know that some of us will choose to use drugs. As an organization, we respect everyone’s decisions when it comes to drug use, but we also don’t want to kid ourselves by ignoring a pretty simple fact: drugs—of any kind—can be harmful.

As an organization we want to promote gay men’s health—both at an individual and community level—but none of us are think that offering scare tactics about drug use will help achieve this. We don’t believe scaring people into health is a viable option. What we want to do is offer those gay men who choose to use drugs some ideas and strategies to reduce the potential harm associated with drug use—without judging them or their decisions. Don’t get us wrong—there is no safe drug and we don’t believe it is possible to use drugs safely. We do, however, think there are smarter ways to consume drugs and do the party scene.

From what we’ve seen and experienced, there are at least two kinds of harm that can follow from drug use. The first are the bad trips--passing out, puking, overdosing, or ending up in the hospital. This not only means a shitty night for you but also for those around you. We also believe careless drug use leads to arguments between lovers, boyfriends, tricks, and friends, creating tension among a community that is already faced with enough tension. And we know that what can start off as fun can easily turn into a life-altering addiction. There are also harms that extend beyond the individual. Promoters and club owners have to deal with overdoses, have to deal with bad images, have problems with getting permits, and have to deal with the police and venue owners. The effect of this is pretty clear: too many problems and the events and spaces we like to hang out and socialize in are likely to be shut down. Our goal is to provide information and ideas that can help reduce both these kinds of harm.


BEFORE THE PARTY:


Knowledge
You can reduce harm by knowing as much as you can about the drugs you’re taking. Inform yourself. Read up, talk to friends, or consider talking to your physician if you feel comfortable--but be critical in your assessment. It’s easy to look for the upside, so don’t ignore the downside. And be aware that everyone has a vested interest in the information they give you. A well-rounded knowledge base will help you make better decisions for yourself.


Sourcing
Do what you can to develop a relationship with a good dealer. Use word of mouth to figure out who gets what where and whom others trust. Test your drugs if you can. Buy your drugs in larger batches. The more you can control when it comes to the stuff you take, the less likely you’ll end up puking or passing out. Spend a couple of bucks on a tetsing kit. It's worth it.

Health
Be well rested and in positive headspace. If you’re sick or feeling a bit down--consider either not going to the party or consider not using drugs. And if your ex is going and you think you’ll have a bad time, don’t go. There will always be another party. While being in a bad mood at a party isn’t a problem, taking drugs to put you in a better mood is. Sometimes no amount of any substance will make things better.

Rendezvous Point
Pick a rendezvous point before you get to the event--even if you’ve never been to the venue--people can get lost five minutes into some big events. It can always be changed to something more suitable once you’ve scoped the place out. This way you have a place to go if something goes wrong.

Cash/ID

Do you have all the right identification? If you’re on medication and have a problem will others be able to find out? And do you have enough cash on you for a cab?

Party Pack
Pack what you need to make things more comfortable for you. Gum, candy and all your party supplies. Tums or Rolaids? Do you have condoms? And lube? Did you bring the glitter?
Plan Ahead For the Party
Figure out what drugs you are going to take before you get to the party and bring only that, no extras. If you plan to drink alcohol, decide on a limit before you get there. Stick to your plan--when we’re fucked up we can forget what our limits look like. And if you don’t stick to your plan, spend some time figuring out what triggered the change.

After the Party
Think about crashing and your recovery--got enough of the stuff you need to make it through the next day? Orange juice, comfort food, vitamins. If you can, make sure you don’t have anything complicated or stressful coming up in the next few days. The comedown can be a bitch without the added stress of work or school or family.

Motivation
Do you know why you’re going? Are you on the prowl or is this just a night of dancing with friends? What are your expectations? And are they reasonable? Don't set yourself up to be dissapointed. Being down can put you in a "I need more drugs" state-of-mind.

Build a group
This is one of the cornerstones of Buzzcode's harm reduction strategies. Create a group where you can act as each others' safety-nets. When you're preparing to go out, and you're still sober, discuss exactly what drugs you plan to do, how much, and what time you plan to do them.

DURING THE PARTY:

Hearing Safety
Consider wearing earplugs--or at least bring some with you in case you want to wear some. When talking to someone on a dance floor, put your finger over his or her ear canal--hearing damage can occur if you try to yell over the music.

Flexible/Mobile Attitude
A party might not turn out as you expected. The music may not be what you were looking for or you might find the place is devoid of hotties. Shift your focus--hang with your friends, explore, watch the lights, get into mischief, learn how to flag, meet new people, find a dark corner and…

Explore
Check the chill room out. Stare at the visuals. Oggle the go-go boys. Wander around and see what’s to see. It’ll give you a chance to cool down and maybe change your direction if things aren’t what you were hoping.

Get Comfortable
Figure out where things are--the bathrooms, the exits, water. It's easy to get disoriented when you're fucked-up. Seek out/research in-house harm reduction initiatives prior to entering a venue or immediately after entering. Is there a first aid room? Is a harm reduction group like DanceSafe onsite? Stake out a place on the dance floor and let it settle. The first two hours can sometimes be a mess of people wandering around--don’t let this settling get in the way of having a good time.

Communicate Drug issues/Plans
Do your friends know what you’re taking? Tell them what you plan to take--and talk to them just before you plan to take it. It's a great idea to ask your friends if they think you're ok to drop, and be prepared to wait if they say no.
If you are going to a party alone, grab a marker on the way out the door and write what you’re taking on your wrist; If there is a problem then somebody will know what you’ve taken and be able to assist you.
Do you know what’s in the bullet you were just handed? Are you sure? And did you know that sharing bullets represents a risk for contracting hepatitis? If you are going to take this risk, be aware that you are doing so.

Be with your People
Pick a spot on the dance floor; call it home base. Make a rendezvous point in case someone gets lost and commit to visiting it if someone disappears. And if you want to disappear and get lost, tell someone that you’re going for a wander. If you meet Mr. Right Now, make sure someone knows where you’re going or how to get hold of you.

Build a Group

Smile and say hello to those around you. Make new friends. You are likely going to reduce your risk of harm if you have people around you who know what you’re doing. At the very least, you’ll have someone who will be able to walk you off the dance floor if things come to that. Check in with friends. Ask if they are okay every now and then. Let them know if and when you decide to take more drugs. Tell them if you think they might need to wait a bit longer—and ask them if they think you should be taking more. They might not be able to tell you anything, but if you get in the habit, then at least you’ve given yourself a chance to think before you drop you next hit.

Time
Make sure you have a watch if timing your drugs is part of your harm reduction strategy.

Rest and Water Safety

Keep hydrated and always ask if the bottle someone is offering you is water. Partier’s frequently mix their drugs—especially GHB—with their water. Almost everyone will tell you if the water they have has GHB in it, but ask anyway. People forget or might assume you already know. The last thing you want is a second vial of GHB. Take a break to cool off--especially in hot venues--and if the venue is hot think about lowering your drug intake for the night. Your body needs water to function--and to process the drugs you’ve taken--being overheated and dehydrated can increase the chance of a bad trip, passing out, or other health problems. But don’t over do it. Too much water can be a problem. About 500ml of water an hour when you are dancing ought to be enough. Make sure you take a piss every now and then—and if you don’t feel like you have to, try to force yourself. Urination is a critical part of your body’s hydration system—without peeing all the water in the world won’t help.

HOW TO SPOT TROUBLE:

It's important to remember that different people will react differently to the same drugs, and combining drugs can bring on an unexpected bad reaction or overdose. Some people can seemingly wolf down half a pharmaceutical company and keep a grip, while others might wig out on half a joint.

In yourself:
Do what you can be to be aware of how you are feeling--at times it may be hard to pay attention to your body if the party rocks, but take a second every now and then to check in with yourself. How’s you stomach? Are you a bit too dizzy? Do you need to cool down? If something amiss say something--don’t walk away alone and don’t ignore it. Tell your friends how you are feeling. And if you are not with friends, tell a stranger.

In others:
Ask your friends and people around you how they are feeling: watch out for each other. The most apparent sign of trouble is probably someone who is getting drowsy-- we’ve all seen this when somebody’s taken too much. If you notice any of these symptoms, approach the person and offer your assistance, be prepared to send someone else for a medic.

Symptoms: the person
  • has slowed down,
  • is wobbly,
  • seems dizzy,
  • is having a hard time speaking,
  • is unnaturally still
  • is leaning against the wall
  • seems unable to lift their head
  • eyes are rolling, or cannot focus


How to Deal with Trouble In Others:

Read Crisis 101 (coming soon)

How to Deal with Trouble Yourself
If you start displaying symptoms such as feeling dizzy, sick, sudden tiredness, sudden headaches or cramps and aching limbs it's time to take a break. Other symptoms include a difficulty in peeing, peeing with dark urine, not peeing at all, stopping sweating, and difficulties in breathing. If you suffer any of these symptoms you should immediately take a break and chill out to let your body cool down. Find a friend, find first aid, leave the event if necessary, but not alone, if possible. Sip a 500 ml of water slowly and let your body relax. Don't drink too much water - as a rule try and drink about 500 ml an hour. If you're dancing splash a bit of water on your head and neck to keep your temperature down. Loosen your clothes and take time out to let your body cool down. Don't go to the other extreme. If its cook outside put something on—even if you’re sweating.

AFTER THE PARTY:

Transportation
Allow us to be your mother for just a second: "Do you know how you’re getting home? Do not get into a car and drive after a night out. At all. You’ve made a choice to take drugs and are willing to take the risks, but don’t make that choice for others (you know: someone’s mother / father / child / spouse / lover). Grab a cab. In fact, make plans to take a cab--leave the car behind."
It’s too easy to think you’re fine when you’re buzzing on that last hit of ecstasy. Besides, that cab ride home can be quite an adventure!

Sex
We all know the deal: use a condom. But maybe think about other stuff--we make better decisions when we’re rested and a bit more alert. Have a shower, give a massage, snooze for a while--and then throw his legs in the air. If you’re a bit tired and sketched out see if a bit of sleep will help. And watch the Viagra and Poppers—the mix can be fatal.

Rest

Get some sleep--whatever it takes to bring you down—chill out with friends, take a long hot shower. After a hard night's partying it's important to wind down and let your body recover. The more rest you get, the smaller your crash. You might need a sleeping aid--but maybe put your head down before you pop a Xanax or an Imovane. All party drugs—particularly GHB—do not mix well with sedatives. Using pot to help you come down can sometimes increase the feelings of anxiety and paranoia in some people and make matters worse. Booze isn’t the best idea either—you are probably already dehydrated as it is and booze will only compound the problem. It's better to drink non-alcoholic fluids and let your body come down naturally. Eat well, take it easy and relax.

Nutrition
Sometimes after an event the last thing you want to do is eat--especially if you’ve been doing crystal. Consider that the average person needs between 2000 and 2500 calories a day. A night of hard dancing to great tunes in a hot space can drain you of double that--so force yourself to eat if you have to.

Crashing
Suicide Tuesdays, the blues, whatever—we’ve all felt like shit afterwards. Leaving great music, great energy, and dancing like you were on fire with friends can leave you feeling fragile and vulnerable. Half the battle is knowing that you’re overtired, depleted, and sketched out on the last of your drugs. What you’re feeling is probably real, but keep it in context. And respect those around you—they’re probably as fragile as you are. Be good to each other. Call/email/hang out with your buddies if that helps.

Build a Group
On the way home or when you're chilling or whatever—this is a good time to review the night. Trash the coat check and talk about the DJ. Make this the time to review other things: Did you manage to stick to your harm reduction strategies? If not, figure out why. Figure out what worked or didn’t work and why. Overall, it’s a good idea to review what happened with others—to get a different perspective on the night.

YOUR TIPS?
We learn by experience... If you have a party basic that all gay men should know, please send it in to us!

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