Dance parties and drugs are often linked together. Make sure you know about the effects of drugs before taking any chances at dance parties.

Safety first

  • Consider that there are risks with taking illegal drugs
  • Go out with friends you can trust
  • Work out safe arrangements for getting home
  • Stay safe from heatstroke – drink the right amount of water
  • Take measures to ensure safe sex
  • Be aware of the dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol.

Drugs are often common place at raves or dance parties, but they are usually illegal and possessing them or supplying them is against the law. You could be fined or sent or prison!

The only safe option with drugs is no drugs.

Drugs affect you differently according to your mood, who you’re with, when you last ate and the contents of the drug.

If you’re feeling low the drugs may just make you feel worse.

Drugs may be of different strengths without you being aware of it – go carefully – illegal drugs do not have the same strengths each time.

Plan ahead – don’t make rash decisions when you are already out of it.

Be around friends you can trust.

Let your friends know what you’re up to.

Ecstasy / Speed / LSD / Fantasy

Know what you’re taking – know the risks.

  • Mixing drugs can massively increase the risks to your health.
  • Mixing drugs with alcohol will increase your chance of heatstroke
  • Taking 2 stimulants put a lot of strain on your heart
  • If you have diabetes, asthma, a mental illness or a heart condition you need to avoid these drugs
  • Prescription medicines, especially anti depressants may react badly with these drugs
  • Some drugs will last for up to 12 hours – avoid working or driving afterwards
  • Fantasy and alcohol are both depressants – taking them both could lead to overdose.

Injecting drugs is by far the riskiest way of taking drugs:

  • There are risks of blood borne diseases (HIV and Hep B) if you share needles/syringes and preparing equipment
  • The risk of overdose is higher
  • Don’t take drugs alone.

Stick to non injecting drugs – or stay drug free.

Some basic facts about party drugs


  • Tablets, capsules or powders, which are usually swallowed
  • An effect that is stimulating and hallucinogenic
  • Usually takes effect 20-30 minutes after taking, sometimes longer
  • After effects leave you feeling tired and down and you’ll find it hard to concentrate.


  • A white or yellow/brown powder, most commonly available as methamphetamine
  • A clear crystal form – ‘ice’ or ‘pure’ – is very strong
  • A stimulant which makes you feel energetic, confident and talkative. Some people feel agitated and moody
  • Effects also make your mouth dry and jaw tense, appetite and tiredness disappear.
  • After effects are tiredness, hunger and depression
  • Speed may be mixed with other substances, such as glucose or Ajax!
  • Injecting this drug is particularly high risk.

LSD (lysergic acid)

  • Small squares of paper or tiny tablets called ‘microdots’
  • A psychedelic drug – it changes perceptions of the world – this can be terrifying to some people.
  • LSD can take anything from 30-120 minutes to take effect
  • After effects can leave people anxious and depressed and people may re-live the tripping.

Special K, vitamin K or kit Kat (ketamine)

  • A powder or liquid which may be sniffed or injected
  • In small doses it makes you feel dissociated from yourself – in larger doses it is used as an anaesthetic drug, so overdose can accidentally happen
  • After effects include nausea and fatigue, which may last a day or two.


  • A colourless, odourless, slightly-salty tasting liquid, taken by mouth (may also be in powder or tablet form)
  • Could be one of 4 drugs (GHB, GBL, 1,4-B, GABA) – some take longer than others to take effect
  • A depressant drug which is used to make people relax and to enhance their mood
  • The effects can last up to 8 hours and are variable – there is a fine line between a ‘high’ and an overdose which could cause convulsions, breathing problems, coma or death.

Designer drugs, 2C drugs (phenethylamines)

  • Powders or tablets, which may be swallowed (by far the safest), sniffed or injected (only tiny doses can have a strong effect)
  • Psychedelic, stimulant drugs which are sometimes used with ecstasy
  • Some act immediately, some take an hour or two, but may last for up to 12 hours
  • This drug also has a fine line between a ‘high’ and an overdose, which may result in delirium, violence and death
  • Avoid 2C drugs alongside any other party drug or prescription drug.

BZP (benzylpiperazine)

  • These are usually swallowed in 100mg pills, which make up one dose, usually lasting 6-8 hours.
  • Like alcohol they leave you feeling hung over and dehydrated, especially if combined with alcohol
  •  Formerly legal, there is now a ban on these drugs which came into force on 1st April 2008.
  • The main risk is in combining BZP with other party drugs or prescription drugs, which can be fatal.

Drugs affect people differently – just because others seem fine does not mean you always will be.

Useful articles

For information on staying safe at dance parties, click here

Read about Contraception, to ensure safer sex.

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Paula Skelton is a qualified NZ nurse and midwife, a midwifery & childbirth educator and the mum of three lovely girls.

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