UPDATE: Listen to the December 2017 podcast on this topic below.
New Year’s Eve is a night famous for overindulgence. Sometimes it seems as if all the party energy that didn’t get used up in the previous 364 days is let loose on December 31.
For many revelers, New Year’s celebrations involve drug use. Even if you’re just drinking, it pays to be thoughtful about the ways in which mind-altering chemicals will affect your party plans.
Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind:
Before New Year’s Eve, review your mental state. Are you stinging from a difficult holiday with the family and looking to forget things? Are you excited but nervous about being in a new venue or around people not that familiar to you? Understanding your set and setting is basic for safer drug use. Compare this to your past experience with drugs (if any). This will help you know which drugs (if any) may be right for your night out.
If you’re planning on doing something other than just drinking, get yourself sorted out well in advance. Due to our prohibition-based drug laws, whatever product you choose is coming from an unregulated market. Understand that “my friend says it’s okay” or “I trust my guy” could give you a false sense of security. You’ll want to check whatever you have to make sure it is what you were expecting. Drug-checking kits are available for purchase via DanceSafe or Bunk Police, or hopefully you already have one.
Whether it’s alcohol or other drugs, once you start down that path, you are less likely to make well thought-out choices. So make those choices ahead of time, and try to get some consensus about them among the group of friends you’ll be with. And if plans change, pay special attention to how you’re getting from one venue to the next. There’s no excuse for driving or letting your friends drive when there are taxis and companies like Lyft to help out. Don’t let Uber's surge-pricing deter you from making responsible transportation choices.
The best plan is to pick one substance and stick with it for a more controllable experience. But for those of us who live in the real world, your best bet is to do one thing at a time. There’s plenty of hours in the night – if you’re going to start by drinking, taper off at least an hour or two before starting something else. Or if you know in advance you can’t hold to that rule, at least research drug interactions on Erowid.org. Read up on what you’re in for and find safer ways to combine.
Oh, and just in case it’s 3 a.m. on New Year’s and you’re like, HELP, I DIDN’T FOLLOW ANY OF THOSE TIPS…
The best thing you can do is talk to a responsible friend about what you’re planning and ask them to keep an eye on you. Caveat: this person cannot be going along the same path of indulgence as you. Choose someone who’s staying sober (bless those people!) or indulging lightly.
Regardless of your state, keep an eye out for others – even those you don’t know – who may need some help.
These are just the basics. Feel free to add other tips in the comments.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope everyone remembers to #besafehavefun this New Year's Eve.
Stefanie Jones is the nightlife community engagement manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.