AUTHOR: Stacey Forrester
Harm reduction is an ongoing conversation with our community, our friends and with ourselves. To help you prepare for the holiday, and all the shows in store, we have prepared this Harm Reduction Check In. For maximum benefit, please click through the links for more resources!
How am I feeling tonight? How is my emotional and mental health right now? Am I feeling up to a large social gathering and staying up late? Have I been practising any self-care lately?
Am I feeling like I need a break from late nights/ alcohol and other drugs? How am I feeling about my relationship to the party lately? Do I know where to access help if myself or my friends have the intention of indulging less?
Do I have the harm reduction knowledge I need around reducing the risk that may come with using alcohol and other drugs?
Am I planning on taking more than one substance? If so, am I aware of drug combinations to avoid?
Is it possible to get my substances tested ahead of time, either by a local service or a home test kit?
Am I familiar with what to expect with the drugs my group is using? (more here, here and here) **Having an idea of what to expect, better prepares you to detect when something is wrong and how to respond. It is also empowering to be better informed about the things you consume.
Do I know the danger signs to look out for related to alcohol and other substances?
- Loss of consciousness, suddenly very drowsy or confused, awake but cant speak, limp
- Blue lips and/or fingernails
- Anything weird with breathing - Not breathing, working hard to breath, gurgling or raspy breathing, breathing far apart, cant catch breath, choking sound
- Pale, clammy skin
- Body temperature related things – too hot or too cold when the rest of the group seems comfortable
- Chest pain
- Shaking or seizures
**Any of the above warrant a trip to first aid if available at the event, or a call to 911 for medical assessment. Remember it is not illegal to be under the influence. Don’t let fear of getting into trouble stop you from accessing help.
Am I rested?
When did I last eat a full meal?
Am I hydrated?
**All of these things can influence how alcohol and other drugs are metabolized, try to drink water all day leading up to the party, and eat a decent meal 3 hours before heading out.
How might my prescription drugs interact with other substances I may be doing tonight?
What can I wear to feel as comfortable and fabulous as possible (comfortable shoes, warm jacket, non-appropriative outfit / costumes)
Am I pacing myself, starting slow and not pre-drinking too heavily?
Spending the night with great friends and great music often comes with a case of post- rave blues the next day, even more so when indulging. Am I prepared for the hangover / comedown?
Who do I want to spend time with tonight? Who do I feel safe with and free to be myself?
Are my femme/ racialized / lgbtq2a friends going to feel safe and welcome at this show / party?
Are there non-alcoholic options at this party / show/bar (other than energy drinks!) like mock tails and free water for those who don’t drink / are dancing the night away?
Are we going to a venue that has a public harm reduction and harassment / safer space policy?
I am aware of how “set” and “setting” influence the effects could influence my evening?
If I am staying in and using, what can I do to avoid overdose?
Are we going to an event that has harm reduction or first aid onsite?
Does someone in our group carry Naloxone, know how to rescue breathe, and know the recovery position?
Have my friends and I chatted about what we plan to consume for the evening? (remember all drugs come with varying levels of risk and stigma – we should try to minimize both those things by seeking out people we can be open and honest with to help keep each other safe!)
Am I going out with people who care about my well being and won’t pressure me to do things I don’t want to do?
How can I support someone who is having a difficult trip tonight?
Do I know how to call in creepy behavior and address other things that can make people feel unsafe?
Do I feel confident in my awareness of consent? Especially conversations about consent that involve alcohol and other drugs? If I have a regular partner / partners that I may see tonight, have we talked about our boundaries ahead of time, while sober?
Do I know how to promote consent culture at shows?
There is no shame in staying in. Listen to your body! There will always be another show and another party. Don’t forget to pick up your favourite snacks, que up your favourite, music or books and get cozy.
What do I need to bring tonight?
- Gum / candy
- If sexually active - Safer Sex supplies (Condoms / barriers, lube)
- Charged phone / phone charger
- Harm reduction Apps: Dancesafe and Tripsit
- Harm Reduction supplies related to substance use: (for example: straws, measuring devices)
- Plans for a safe ride home
- Cash for water / splitting the cab ride home
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HARM REDUCTION