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Tis the Season

21 December 2020

Every year we face it. Holiday madness. Love the season or hate it, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s hard to escape it.

We feel you.

Whether you’re stressed by family commitments or celebrating summer freedom, if you’re likely to be drinking or taking drugs this summer then it’s a good idea to think about your use and plan ahead. With a bit of forethought, you can still have a great time, while looking after your wellbeing.

Maybe your social calendar is full of parties, before you head away to some festivals with friends. If that includes using alcohol or other drugs then make sure you stay safe. Take a moment to read some tips (below) from Wendy Allison of KnowYourStuffNZ.

Or maybe you’re feeling completely overwhelmed by all the boozy social events, on top of family pressures and post-Covid financial stress. Maybe you’re wondering how you’ll ever survive another whānau Christmas without taking a hit of something.

It’s ok to think honestly about your alcohol and other drug use. Be kind to yourself, and focus on what you can do – you don’t have to be perfect right now. If you’re looking for some help to navigate the silly season, then read on – we might be able to help.

The Really Happy Hour could be just what you need to put down the rosé, step away from the beer and find some ways to do more of the things that really make you happy this summer.

If you’re doing the festive season sober for the first time, Lotta Dann (AKA Mrs D) knows what that feels like. She has a few tips and tricks up her sleeve that might just help, you can find the rest in her Silly Season Survival Guide.

Mrs D’s tricks for staying on track:

  • Put it in perspective. Remember, it’s just another day like any other day. If cravings hit think HALTS (am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired or Stressed?).
  • Delay and Distract. Get busy, do something to move your body or occupy your mind to divert your thoughts from the craving. Read The Four Ds for more tips on beating cravings.
  • Play the tape forward. Visualise yourself climbing into bed sober, visualise yourself waking up in the morning happy and proud. No-one ever regretted waking up without a hangover.
  • It’s ok not to go. Protect your sobriety. If you think it'll be too hard to stay sober at the party, then just don’t go. Offending a few people is easier to manage than rebuilding after a relapse.
  • There's no shame in leaving early. If you’ve had enough, it's ok to quietly pack up your things and say goodbye. Get yourself somewhere safe and administer sober first aid. You'll thank yourself in the morning.
  • Remember you are not alone. There are many thousands of people battling through the silly season sober. Imagine yourself surrounded by those fellow brave sober warriors. Or check in regularly with the Living Sober recovery community.

Planning a few parties or festivals over the summer?

Wendy Allison from KnowYourStuffNZ says test your drugs if you can, and always look after your friends. Here’s what to look out for:

High-dose MDMA and cathinones (synthetic substitutes) – especially eutylone  – are common right now. Also be on the lookout for fake benzos (benzodiazaprine) and GHB. Where possible, get your substances tested ahead of time.

There won’t be any more drug checking clinics until the new year, so in the meantime you can buy reagents for checking from Hempstore and Cosmic. But remember these tests only show the presence of the desired substance, they can’t tell you if there’s something else mixed in. So if you do get your substance reagent tested, you should still exercise caution.

Tips for staying safer:

  • Safest of all, don’t take it.
  • Check High Alert and KnowYourStuffNZ’s Pill library first.
  • If you do choose to take a substance, start small, start slow – take only a fraction of a dose, and wait at least an hour before thinking about having more.
  • Do not mix with other substances, including alcohol.
  • Don’t take anything by yourself. Make sure you have someone you trust with you.
  • Remember to stay hydrated, and be aware of the temperature - hot days add a level of risk, as many drugs can cause your body temperature to change. Stay in the shade if you can.
  • If one of your friends is having a hard time, stay with them and call for help. If you’re at a festival, the medics are there to help. They won’t judge you or get you in trouble (they've asked us to tell you this because they know sometimes people are scared to go to them).

For more information, see knowyourstuff.nz

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