Drug Risk Reduction Information
There are always risks when taking drugs. Remember to look after yourself and care for others.
Things that can affect your experience and wellbeing include:
- The drug - the type of drug, the contents and if it is a new drug that you have not tried before.
- The 'set' - personal reasons, how you’re feeling both physically and mentally or if you haven’t used in a while.
- The setting - where you are, who you are with, if you are not used to using drugs in this location or with these people.
It is always safer not to use at all, but if you do, follow harm reduction information below to reduce the harms.
- Talk to your friends about using drugs and research the risks on Drugs.ie. Don’t use alone or in an isolated place. Think about the drug, your personal situation such as your physical and meant health as well as the setting.
- Can you trust the dealer? You can never be fully sure of the contents of drugs. Sometimes the person selling might not know all of the contents themselves. The risks are increased if you buy from an unknown person at an event.
- What’s in the pill or powder? There is no way to know the contents of a drug just by looking at it. Drugs could look the same and contain different contents. Drugs from the same batch can also vary. Don’t assume you know the content based on what you are sold.
- What about drug testing kits? Drug testing kits have limitations. They might not tell you everything in the drug or the exact strength.
- Start low, go slow and pace yourself. Start with a very small dose to see how you react to the drug. Some drugs or adulterants can take longer to take effect than others. Wait at least 2 hours before taking more.
- Leave the mixing to the DJ. Mixing drugs increases the risk of becoming unwell or overdose. Use one drug at a time and don’t mix substances, including alcohol and prescription medication. Decide your drug of choice for the night and stick to it.
- Stick together. Don’t leave anyone alone. Have a charged phone and establish a meeting point in case you are separated from your friends.
- Keep cool. Sip water but don’t drink over a pint an hour. Take breaks from dancing and give yourself time to cool down.
- Don’t be afraid to get help. If you or a friend become unwell or feel suicidal after taking drugs you should get help immediately. You will not get in trouble. Know where to go if in a venue or call 112.
- Always be honest about what you think was taken. Emergency services are there to help.
Know the signs of an emergency 'overdose'
A drug overdose is when you have too much of a drug. It’s hard to know how much is ‘too much’. Drugs such as MDMA are increasing in purity.
It is also hard to know how you will react if you use more than one substance. For example, a combination of alcohol, MDMA and Cocaine.
You can also become unwell as a result of personal factors and reactions to the substance.
Learn about drug overdose factors and signs here
Leave the mixing to the DJ – Any time you mix drugs together you take on new risks
- Alcohol combined with most drugs can cause problems. It is safer to use one substance at a time.
- Alcohol and cocaine combine in the body to provide a new substance called ‘Cocaethylene’ that increases the risk of damaging organs such as the liver and heart.
- Cocaethylene is more toxic than cocaine and alcohol alone and produces a greater increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
- Alcohol and MDMA used together can be unpredictable and effects of both drugs may be prolonged.
- MDMA used with some antidepressants can be dangerous and lead to too much serotonin in the body, known as “serotonin syndrome”.
- Ketamine mixed with other drugs, particularly depressant drugs like alcohol or benzodiazepines increases the risk of collapsing, passing out and/or serious injury.
- Alcohol and ketamine can make people unwell and vomit, which can increase the risk of choking.
- Ketamine can also be very dangerous when mixed with ecstasy or amphetamine (speed), as it can cause high blood pressure.
For harm reduction information go to Drugs.ie/campaigns
See our overdose reduction tips here
For student specific campaigns go to Safer Student Nights
Learn about how alcohol can interact with other drugs
Concerned about your use?
Take the Drugs.ie online self-assessment to identify the impact of your use: Drugs.ie/drugtest
Getting support for substance use
If you are concerned about your own use or someone else’s use, contact a local service through the Drugs.ie National Directory for Drug and Alcohol Services at Drugs.ie/services
You can also contact the HSE Drug and Alcohol Helpline on 1800 459 459 from Monday to Friday between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about sexual health and wellbeing go to www.sexualwellbeing.ie