For teens, partying is really important and is considered a normal rite of passage. This is a time in your life when you are developing and enhancing your social skills. Partying not only provides you with a chance to socialise with friends outside of school, university and work, it also can be a group activity that helps you feel accepted and part of a peer group.
Essentially, partying is not only fun - it also provides an opportunity for you to socialise, learn and develop social skills, and work on building relationships and discovering more about yourself.
Partying and the risks
Going to music festivals, concerts, 'clubbing' and attending house parties are just a few ways to party. Besides having fun, it is important for you to be aware of the risks that come along with partying. Knowing some of the precautions that you can take may protect you, and your friends, from being seriously injured or hurt.
There are several risks to consider when you are thinking about going to a party. Some risks may be out of your control, however being aware of potential risks can help you stay alert. Some of the risks are:
- Use of drugs
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Drink spiking (this is when someone puts a drug in your drink without your knowledge)
- Car accidents e.g. drink driving or being in a car whose driver is over the limit
- Personal injury accidents e.g. falling over
- Physical assaults and fights
- Sexual assault
- Unsafe sex
- Getting arrested
Tips on how to party safely and make safe decisions
- Remember it is illegal to purchase alcohol and to drink alcohol outside of your home if you are under the age of 18 years old. If you are caught drinking at a party you run the risk of being arrested and charged for underage drinking. Also, remember that your body and brain are still developing. Drinking alcohol can have an impact on your physical and mental development
- If you are thinking about trying alcohol for the first time it is worth considering trying it at home, with another responsible person so that you can learn about what it feels like in a safe environment
- If you are over 18 and are going out drinking, try to eat before you go. Eat food and drink plenty of water while you are out. This will help your body to slow down the absorption of alcohol
- Pace your drinks and have a 'spacer' (a drink of water) between alcoholic drinks
- Try low alcoholic options when choosing a drink
- Watch your drinks, and never leave them out of your sight. If you leave a drink unattended it can provide someone with the opportunity to slip drugs into it
- Never accept a drink from a stranger. If a friend wants to 'shout' you a drink, go with them to the bar and offer to help them carry the drinks back
- Don't top up your drink half-way through. This makes it difficult to keep track of how much you have consumed and you could find yourself drinking much more than you planned to
- Plan ahead and decide whether you will drive or not. If you think you may end up drinking alcohol, try to find an alternate means of getting there and getting home
- Don't plan to get a lift home with someone who has been drinking or who may plan on drinking. Always keep a bit of spare money in case you need to catch public transport or a cab
- Avoid drinking games. Drinking too much too quickly can cause unconsciousness and sometimes death. Being too drunk may also contribute to you taking risks and doing things you normally wouldn't do. Plus the after effects of drinking too much and waking with a hangover or nausea can ruin a really good night out
- It is important to know that the consumption of any illicit drug (non medicated drugs) is illegal for all ages. If you choose to take drugs you run the risk of being arrested and possibly charged, which means going to court. If you are convicted of any drug charges this can impact on future plans, such as study, employment and overseas travel. So think wisely before taking any drugs!
- Be aware that because illicit drugs aren't regulated by the government, anyone dealing in drugs can put whatever they want into it. If you use a drug you won't know until after you take it, if it is has other chemicals mixed in
- Drug and alcohol services can provide you with information about drugs and how they might affect you
- Sharing needles and syringes can be very hazardous to your health and can result in contracting serious illnesses such as HIV and Hepatitis
- If you have used a drug, make sure a friend knows what you have taken
- Talk about drug use with your friends and work out how you can support each other if you find yourselves in a situation where there is pressure to use drugs
- If a friend overdoses, call 000 and request an ambulance immediately. Ambulance officers are not interested in arresting or charging you for drug use. You won't get in trouble for ringing an ambulance if there is an emergency, but you may suffer consequences or police investigation if you don't take action to get your friend medical assistance
- Try to plan your night. Where are you going? How are you getting there? How are you getting home? Who will you be going with?
- Make sure you save important numbers into your mobile phone. It is easier to have them already there rather than trying to remember a number if there is an emergency?
- Stay with your group of friends. Try not to go off by yourself, and if you do, stay in a public place
- If leaving before your friends, tell someone you are going home. If catching a cab try to have a friend stay with you until it arrives. Taking down the cab driver's number (taxi driver identification card; or licence plate) is also useful just in case something happens
- Have a plan B if things don't work out as planned, for example - if a party doesn't feel safe or you are uncomfortable, think about where you could go or some reasons to leave, so you don't feel any pressure to stay at an unsafe party
- If someone is arguing or fighting with you walk away - don't fight back. They may become physically violent. Did you know that being hit or punched in the head can cause unconsciousness, coma, seizures, brain damage and death? A fight at a party can easily escalate if other people join in or start to use weapons such as broken bottles or knives. Once a fight gets out of control even bystanders may be in danger of injury or death
- Don't go off or go home with someone you have just met. If they are interested in you or if you are interested in them, grab their phone number
Tips for hosting a party
- Make your party 'invitation only', and don't advertise through social media networks like Facebook or Twitter - this increases the likelihood of gatecrashers. If you are invited to a party, respect your friend and don't advertise the party yourself through any social media networks
- Secure valuables on the property
- Have someone monitor the party, like a trusted adult or friend. If it is going to be a big party have a think about hiring some form of security
- Provide a lot of food, especially if your guests are over 18 years old and will be drinking alcohol
- Have water and non-alcoholic drinks available for your guests
- Remember not to provide alcohol if it is an underage party. It is illegal to provide minors with alcohol and you could be arrested or charged. Parental guidance is also recommended for underage parties
- Inform your neighbours that you will be having a party. Most neighbours appreciate being told before the event so that they are prepared for the noise and possible disruption
- Turn your music down after midnight. Some neighbours report noise complaints to police. If this happens, the police often come out to check on the party and request for the noise levels to drop
Tips for going to a party
- If you are under 18 years old, it is always best to inform your parents or a family member of where the party is and what your plans are
- If you are over 18 years old, tell someone where you are going
- Organise how you will get to the party and how you will get home. If you are under 18 it's best that your parent - or a friend's parent - takes you and picks you up from the party
- It's a good idea to take your own drinks so you know what you will be drinking and how much you will be drinking
- Have a plan of who you will call if you need help and have those numbers saved into your mobile phone before you go to the party
Who else can help?
If you would like to talk some more about safe partying or just need to talk to someone about what's happening for you, you can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or use our web or email counselling services. No problem or concern is too big or too small to talk to our counsellors about.
If you need help or further information:
- Call 000 if you need any medical or police assistance
- Call your parents, relative or trusted friend
- The emergency department of your local hospital
- Your doctor
Updated: March 2015