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Being safe doesn’t have to mean being boring!
Know how to handle yourself in difficult situations so you can look after yourself and your friends.
Most of the time you can party without anything going wrong. But there’s always a chance of something happening that’s stressful, out of your control, dangerous or life threatening.
If you’re going to be partying then learn ways to keep safe so you don’t find yourself in a situation that’s uncomfortable or dangerous.
Why is underage drinking and drug use a big deal?
You’ve probably had adults in your life tell you, or heard it said in the media that underage drinking, binge drinking and drug use are negative things.
There’s a good reason for this. In fact, there are a few good reasons why drinking alcohol is illegal for people under 18 years of age, why illicit drug use is illegal and why people are discouraged from binge drinking:
- Your brain and body are going through a really important growing phase – drinking and drug use can affect your developing brain and your overall health
- It can mess with your judgement and decision making skills – meaning you could end up in a risky situation and not be able to make good choices in order to get out of it
- Being intoxicated makes you vulnerable – it puts you at increased risk of being assaulted or seriously hurt
- Some people use alcohol and drugs as a way of coping or just to have fun – but it can be highly addictive which can be very hard to recover from.
Protect yourself and stay in control
Partying is fun! If it wasn’t, you probably wouldn’t be doing it. But there are a bunch of risks that come with partying especially if there’s underage or heavy drinking and illicit drug use.
Here’s some of the stuff that you want to protect yourself from:
General tips for safe partying
Having a great time also means making great choices
Stay with friends you trust, don’t go off on your own
Keep your wits about you and stay in control of yourself
Don’t get into a car if there’s drinking or drugs involved
If you’re going to drink do it in moderation and pace yourself
Eat food and drink water as this slows the absorption of alcohol
Trust your gut instinct – if it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it
Before the party, organise a parent or adult to drop you off and pick you up
If a friend is upset or unwell, stay with them until their person comes to pick them up
Don’t go off with someone you just met – if you’re interested in them, get their number
Avoid accepting drinks or drugs from other people - you don’t know what might be in them
If there’s a change of location tell your parents or an adult you trust where you’re going
If you don’t want to drink alcohol or take drugs - don’t! Having fun isn’t about being drunk or getting high
If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable it’s time to leave – call/text your person to pick you up and take you home
In an emergency call 000
Check out these tips for managing your alcohol intake so you can keep risks to a minimum and focus on having a good time
- Remember it’s illegal to purchase alcohol under 18 years of age. And it’s illegal for somebody else to buy you drinks when you’re under 18 years old.
- Have a responsible parent or adult with you when you try alcohol for the first time.
- Try non-alcoholic or low alcohol drinks. Pace yourself with a ‘spacer’ (e.g. water) in between drinks.
- Don’t top up your drinks before finishing them. You want to keep track of how much you’re drinking.
- When you’re ready for another drink, pour it yourself rather than letting someone else do it for you so you know exactly what’s in it.
- Drinking games can put you on the fast track to getting drunk and losing control of yourself. If you want to try a drinking game then swap the alcohol for a non-alcoholic or low alcohol drink.
- Watch your drinks and don’t leave them out in the open. Someone might sneak drugs into your drinks (‘drink spiking’). You could feel really drunk, dizzy, tired or faint. Tell a friend or adult straight away if you have any of the signs of drink spiking.
“I bring my own drinks to a party so I know how much I’m having and I know exactly what I’m having” - Chloe, 18
Knowing some facts about drug taking and the risks involved can make a difference. It means that you can make better choices by being more informed.
Some things to keep in mind when it comes to drug use:
- A ‘medicated drug’ is bought with a prescription from a doctor. While ‘non-medicated’ drugs are unregulated and illegal, so you never know what you’re going to get.
- It’s illegal for anybody of any age to use a non-medicated drug. This is usually what people are referring to when they say ‘drugs’. They’re also called ‘illicit drugs’.
- Both medicated and non-medicated drugs can be deadly.
- To learn more about different types of drugs check out our Drugs and Alcohol article.
- When someone sells or offers you drugs you never really know what’s in them e.g. if they’re ‘pure’ or ‘cut’ drugs, which can have different effects. It increases the risk that you could have a bad reaction.
- Sharing needles used to inject drugs is never a good idea. They may not know they have a disease such as HIV or hepatitis which you might end up getting.
- Because illicit drug use is illegal, if you get caught it could lead to an arrest, charges and you could go to court. If a conviction is recorded it can impact on your future plans like travel and employment.
- Mixing alcohol and drugs together can increase the risk that something could go wrong. It can even be life threatening.
- If you use a drug make sure a friend or someone you trust (who isn’t taking drugs) knows about it. They can be there to help if something goes wrong.
In an emergency call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Ambulance officers won’t call the Police unless there is a death or somebody is seriously or permanently injured.
Violence and aggression
Sometimes fights break out when people have been drinking or using drugs. Here are some warning signs, tips and ways to diffuse the situation:
- ‘Gate crashers’ or people you don’t know join the party
- Increased yelling, shouting, swearing or someone saying things to provoke another person into a fight
- Someone already tried to start a fight with you or somebody else
- Heavy drinking or drug use which can lead to people losing control
Tips to stay safe when a fight is brewing:
- Keep a respectful distance and avoid eye contact with ‘gate crashers’
- Have a clear pathway to the exit if things get out of control
- If somebody tries to start a fight, apologise and make your exit
- Don’t try to reason with someone who is intoxicated – just walk away
- If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and leave
- If a friend is getting into a fight, try distracting them away from the situation if you can
- If you feel threatened or unsafe get help immediately
If somebody is punched or assaulted it’s really important to tell an adult you trust and get help. Assault is illegal, has serious impacts and can be very hard to deal with alone.
Sex and sexual assault
Getting drunk or high can make you more vulnerable to unwanted sex or sexual assault. It can also lead to pressuring or aggressive sexual behaviour towards another person.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Heavy drinking or drug use affects your ability to make decisions. Avoid getting ‘plastered’ or ‘smashed’ and stay in control of yourself. If you do get very intoxicated, try to do it in a safe place with people you trust.
- Unplanned sex means that you might not be prepared e.g. not have condoms. This can lead to unplanned pregnancy or you might end up with a sexually transmitted disease.
- You might have a sexual experience with somebody and then regret it when you’re sober. This can impact your relationships and might lead to conflict, embarrassment and a loss of trust.
- Sex should never be forced on someone. Sex should only happen when both people consent.
- If you feel pressured to have sex you have the right to say ‘no’ if you don’t want to do it and to be respected for your choice.
- Recognise when you are pressuring someone for sex. It’s not ok to put your own needs above the needs of somebody else for your own sexual pleasure.
- Remember, if you are sexually assaulted it is NEVER your fault. No matter how drunk or vulnerable you may be. It’s never ok and it’s illegal. Talk to someone you trust and get support.
Be in the know – stay in control
Keep your wits about you and have fun!
There’s always going to be risks involved when partying. We’ve outlined a few of them here. Use this information to make good choices next time you’re at a party.
And remember, staying safe doesn’t mean not having fun – you can do both! It’s about making smart choices and doing what’s right for you.
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