Alcohol is something that we all come in contact with. Having a few drinks with friends, when we celebrate an event or achievement, or at most parties.
Drinking alcohol is common place in Australia, but it is also a substance that can cause drunkenness and changes in consciousness mood and emotions. It is these intoxicating and psychoactive effects that lead to so many accidents, injuries, diseases, and disruptions in the family life of everyday Australians.
Due to the different ways that alcohol can affect people, there is no amount of alcohol that can be said to be everyone. People choosing to drink must realise that there will always be some risk to their health and social well-being. However, there are ways to minimise the risks. Check out this site for some information to think about when drinking, remember your choice to drink or not.
Parties are designed to be fun, but it's no fun if you are over the legal alcohol limit and are killed in a road crash or pulled over by the police on the way home.
These few tips will help make sure you arrive home safely.
Tips for Party Goers
- Plan ahead and decide how many drinks you will have.
- If you intend to have a few drinks, plan to catch a bus, cab or a lift with someone who has not been drinking – or stay the night!
- Finish each drink before you have another – avoid top-ups.
- Only time will sober you up. Food, coffee, a cold shower, fresh air or vomiting won't.
- Alternate alcoholic and non or low alcohol drinks.
- Eat before and while you drink to fill your stomach and reduce the amount of drinks you have. Avoid salty foods as this will only make you thirsty
- Remember that after a big night you can still have alcohol in your system, so don't be in a rush to get behind the wheel. Chances are you will still be over the limit. Better still if you plan to have a few drinks, don't drive.
Tips for Party Hosts
- Make sure you have plenty of non-alcohol and low alcohol drinks and mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails) available.
- Have a variety of foods available. Don't just have salty foods available, as this makes people thirsty.
- Don't top up people's glasses with alcoholic drinks – let them finish their drink and ask for a refill. This will help them keep a track of how much they have had to drink.
- If you think someone has had too much to drink, arrange a lift home for them with someone who hasn't been drinking, call them a cab, or let them stay for the night.
- Encourage people to plan ahead. Ask them if they intend to have a few drinks, how they are going to get home if they don't intend to stay the night. Ask them how much they will drink, whether they plan on driving, or whether they will stay the night.
- Try to organise a driver who will not drink to drive friends home.
- Be a creative host and provide entertainment – this will reduce the amount of time to consume alcohol.
Drink spiking is when alcohol or another drug is added to your drink without you knowing. This will result in you becoming drunk or drug affected unexpectedly. Both alcohol, and non-alcoholic drinks can be spiked, and it can happen at clubs, bars and at parties. Spiked drinks are also called a 'mickey firm' or being 'sipped a mickey'.
Depressant drugs, especially sedatives can be used to spike drinks. These drugs are usually used to relax the body or help people sleep. Combined with alcohol they can have very strong effects. This may result in you feeling very drunk and mean that can't remember some or all events that took place after you were drugged.
The drug's effects can start within 15 to 30 minutes, and can last up to 8 hours or longer, depending on the amount used and how much alcohol you have drunk. Effects include feeling sleepy, dizzy or drowsy, loss of motor skills, muscle relaxation, slurred speech, memory loss, impaired judgment, loss of inhibitor, loss of consciousness, visual problems and nausea.
Gamma hydroxy butyrate acid (GHB) can cause amnesia, impair movement and speech, and can be added to drinks without visible trace. GHB is also known as 'fantasy', 'grievous bodily harm' (GBH), liquid ecstasy and 'liquid E'. It comes as a colourless, odourless, bitter or salty-tasting liquid, or as crystal powder GHB has been used medically as a general anesthetic and to treat sleep disorders. The effects of GHB include hallucinations, extreme drowsiness, vomiting, convulsions or seizures, and unconsciousness or abrupt short-term coma. GHB is a dangerous drug in itself. Mixed with alcohol, the harmful effects are stronger.
Drink spiking is an increasing concern for everyone who wants to enjoy a safe night out. There are things you can do to reduce the risks of having your drink tampered.
How to Stay Safe
Keep your drink with you at all times. Watch it, or ask a friend you can really trust to watch your drink if you move away or go to the toilet. If you leave your drink unattended while dancing, making a phone call or visiting the bathroom, throw it away.
- Watch the bar staff as they make your drink, they should do this In front of you not with their backs turned. If they do, ask them to make you another one.
- Be aware that because these drugs may be tasteless and/ or colourless, you may not be aware that anything is unusual with your drink.
- Refuse drinks from open containers and remember that wide mouth glasses are easier targets.
- Recognise that even in "shouts" with trusted friends, drinks could be spiked by others.
- Don't taste, share or exchange drinks with others; leave your drink if it tastes strange.
- Realise excessive alcohol/drugs can distort your judgment and make you more vulnerable.
- Only accept a drink from someone you know and trust, unless you open it yourself.
- Watch out for your friends and stay together, be aware of their behaviour, if a friend looks disproportionately intoxicated to the number of brinks she has had, take them home or to a safe place.
- Tell others about the high risk venues where drinks have been known to be spiked with drugs.
What if it Happens to You?
- Go to a safe place.
- Call a family member or trusted friend to stay with you and assist in getting the help you need.
- Consider reporting to the police as soon as possible and having forensic medical examination.
- Save any materials such as drink glass, clothing etc. Don't urinate or shower, as evidence could be lost which may be valuable in assisting you to prove any charges.
- Go to a hospital, or private doctor for medical care. There could be a threat of STD, HIV or pregnancy.
- Request urine test to screen for presence of sedating substances.
- Write down as many details as you can remember.
- Phone your nearest Sexual Assault Service for support and information.
What is a Standard Drink?
In Australia a 'Standard Drink' is one that contains 10 grams of alcohol. Other countries have different measures which can range from 13.5 grams in Canada to 8 grams in the UK.
Most beverages are labeled with their percent alcohol by volume (i.e. 5%), so to calculate how many standard drinks a particular beverage serving represents you find out how much alcohol is in the drink, multiply by 0.79 (the density of alcohol and needed to convert a volumetric percentage to grams) and then calculate how many standard drinks that represents.
A can of premix spirits is 1.2 to 1.5 standard drinks
A full strength stubby of beer is 1.5 standard drinks
An Alcoholic Soda is 1.0 to 1.2 standard drinks
A bottle of wine (750ml) is 7.5 standard drinks
A bottle of spirits (700ml) is 22 standard drinks
Mocktails – Acapulco Gold
2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Coconut Cream
1 oz Whipping Cream
2 tbsp Coconut
Blend all ingredients
1 part Grenadine
4 parts Orange juice
4 parts Pineapple juice
Mix all ingredients together
Serve over ice
3 cups fresh grapefruit juice
2 cups lemon sherbet
1 cup crushed ice
Puree bananas in a blender.
In a gallon pitcher combine all the ingredients
Stir and serve
30ml lime juice
120ml grapefruit juice
2 sachets of lite-n-low
Top-up with tonic water
Shake with lime and strain