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Six ways to take care of your mates on New Years Eve

A group of four friends dancing at a New Years Eve party. A young man and a young woman both have one hand raised, and a beer stein in the other hand. A third beer stein is visible in the foreground.
Have a great New Years, and get everyone home safe

New Year's Eve is an incredibly busy night for paramedics and emergency departments all around Queensland. In fact, emergency departments across the world start the year under the pump thanks to the number of people adversely affected by drugs and alcohol as they see in the New Year.

Common sense and moderation can go a long way towards keeping those numbers down, but even if you're aiming to stay safe this New Year's, it isn't always a guarantee that your friends will do the same. If you're heading out with your mates to celebrate this Saturday night, here are six things you can do to help take care of them and get them home safely.

1. Stay alert to your surroundings

Pay attention to what's going on around you and trust your instincts when they're telling you it's time to go. If you feel like someone is getting aggressive, or if you and your friends are in an uncomfortable situation, remove yourself from the situation and find somewhere safe. Make sure you know where to go and who to talk to in case of an emergency, and if you separate from your friends, let each other know where you're going and when you're likely to return.

2. Watch their drinks and look out for drink spiking

You're probably used to hearing about drugs like GHB and Rohypnol when people talk about drink spiking, but the most common substance used in drink spiking is actually alcohol. This is done by giving someone a stronger drink than expected, whether it's through the addition of extra alcohol or substituting one drink for another.

In an environment where lots of people are drinking, like a New Year’s party, this makes protecting yourself and your friends particularly important. Keep an eye on your friends and your drinks, don't share drinks, and don't accept drinks from people you don't know.

3. Keep an eye out for warning signs

The best way to stay safe may be avoiding drugs and drinking responsibly, but not everyone is going to take that option. Pay attention to your friend's behaviour and keep an eye out for warning signs that they may be in trouble.

Warning signs to look out for include:

  • Having trouble breathing
  • Incoherence and a lack of awareness when it comes to their surroundings
  • Struggling to function normally
  • Dizziness
  • Passing out
  • Showing obvious signs of inebriation, when they've only had a little to drink

Any of these are a pretty good indication that something is wrong and your friend is in need of assistance.

4. Don't be afraid to call for help

If you suspect someone does need help, it's important that you act quickly and get them medical assistance early. Talk to support groups, including security, police, chaplaincy or first-aid officers in your area, if applicable, or dial Triple Zero (000) and request an ambulance.

Getting someone help early is important, particularly in instances where they've overdosed on drugs. Despite this, many people hesitate for fear of getting their friends into trouble. The reality is that police aren't usually called, unless there has been a violent incident, a death, or a specific request for law enforcement to be present made by a third party. It is important to give paramedics and emergency department staff as much information as possible with regard to what happened.

The Emergency+ app is also a good way to make sure you can get assistance in both emergency and non-emergency situations. The Emergency+ app uses the existing GPS in your phone to let you provide call-takers with your location as determined by your smartphone. The Emergency+ app is available for free in the App Store and Google Play.

5. Don't try and sober people up with coffee

You might have seen countless films and TV shows where drunk friends are sobered by up a cup of coffee, this isn't how alcohol works. Also on the short-list of things that will not sober people up any faster: water; eating food; moving around and exercise.

The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, so it may make people feel more alert and awake, but the only way you really sober up is giving alcohol time to leave your system. Your body needs to metabolize the alcohol in your system, and it does this at a very consistent rate regardless of how big you are, what you're drinking, or what you're doing.

Once someone's blood alcohol concentration hits the point where they're drunk, the only way they're getting sober is time. Food, coffee, and walking around are mostly useful for keeping people from drinking more alcohol and giving their body the time it needs.

6. Plan your transport ahead of time

The simple act of getting around can be a frustrating thing on New Year's. Parking can be a nightmare near popular nightspots, there are long delays at taxi queues, and surge pricing and high demand can make getting a rideshare harder than you expected.

Getting you and your friends home safely means planning ahead. New Year's is a great time to look at public transport options, or to have a designated driver who will stay away from alcohol and drugs for the evening.

So take care of your mates this New Year's Eve

Taking care of yourself and your mates over New Year's is a combination of moderation, planning ahead, and using common sense. Stay alert, plan ahead, and look out for one another - getting through the celebration safely is a far better way to ring in the New Year than ending up in an emergency room as 2022 begins.

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Last updated: 30 December 2016