Safer use

There are plenty of things you can do to be safer while we are back in Alert Level 2 and Level 3 (Auckland only). If you choose to use alcohol or other drugs, think about these things to reduce the impact it may have on yourself or others. Start slow by using a smaller amount than normal and waiting for the full effect (at least an hour for most substances) before using any more. Keep track of who you meet and keep good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and not sharing equipment.


There are plenty of things you can do to be safer during this time

If you took a break from using alcohol or other drugs you may have lower tolerance, meaning drugs will affect you more, with a greater chance of feeling overwhelmed or experiencing an overdose. The drug market has also likely changed, with higher risk of adulterants and products not being what you thought they were.

Start slow by using a smaller amount than normal and waiting for the full effect (at least an hour for most substances) before using any more. Keep track of who you meet and keep good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and not sharing equipment.

If you choose to use alcohol or other drugs, think about these things to reduce the impact it may have on yourself or others.

Reduce the impact on others from alcohol and other drug use

Having a healthy and functioning household will help you to get through this time.

Think carefully about what your use is like and how it could affect others. 

Think about these things to reduce the impact that your alcohol and drug use has on others in your household:

  • What can others in the house see? Children will be watching what you do and learning about how you cope with stress.
  • What limits or boundaries could you set on alcohol and other drug use in your household?
  • Keep being hygienic by ensuring you don’t share anything. This includes cigarettes, joints, and equipment used for injecting, vaping, or smoking. COVID-19 is spread through droplets so sharing equipment means you risk infection and spreading the virus.
  • How will you know if your use is affecting others in your household?

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Avoid overdoses

Emergency services may be stretched during this time. If you choose to use alcohol and other drugs, avoid needing emergency services by:

  • Knowing what to expect from the substance you are taking. Now is not the time for experimenting; we need to avoid giving our health services extra work
  • Carefully measuring your dose using scales if you have access to them
  • Using a smaller amount to start and waiting at least an hour before using more
  • Making an overdose plan if you are using around other people. Stagger use if possible, so at least one person can respond in an emergency
  • Downloading the First Aid app so you have easy access to life saving information

If you or anyone around you experiences any of these symptoms while using alcohol or other drugs call 111 immediately:

  • Confusion and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing or very slow breathing
  • Pale skin, blue lips
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat or chest or arm pain
  • Extreme agitation and paranoia

Check they are breathing and place them in a stable side position. If someone has stopped breathing, start CPR. Click here for more information 

Moderate use

Decide whether you want to use alcohol and other drugs or not. If you do choose to use, consider setting limits or boundaries.

Find other ways to deal with feeling isolated, bored, or frustrated that aren’t using alcohol or other drugs.

Think about these things:

  • How much you are going to use and how often. Create a plan and ask trusted friends and whānau to help you stick to it. 
  • What else can you do that doesn’t involve alcohol and other drugs. Establish a routine, exercise, and connect regularly with friends and whānau. 
  • If you have used a lot or use more regularly, be prepared to experience withdrawal symptoms when you slow down or stop. 
  • Talk with supportive friends, family, and the others in your house about your alcohol and other drug use. Their feedback will help you to identify early if your use is having a negative impact on yourself or others.

Talk with others about your alcohol and other drug use

It's OK to talk honestly about your alcohol or other drug use. Talk with supportive friends, family, and the others in your house. Their feedback will help you to identify early if your use is having a negative impact on yourself or others.

These actions can help:

  • Talk with supportive people regularly about how you are feeling and be honest if you are struggling.
  • Tell supportive people if you are trying to make changes to your substance use. They can help you stick to your plan and support you if things get tough.
  • If you are struggling with your drug use or need some support, reach out to support services immediately. 

Stay safer in public

Everyone can do their bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These actions can help:

  • Keep your distance from others in public. If you are going out to purchase anything (including drugs), maintain social distancing rules and practice personal hygiene.
  • Sexual contact is very likely to cause transmission, stay home if you are feeling sick. Keep track of who you have seen.
  • Wipe down drug packages using disinfectants because COVID-19 can live on surfaces for up to three days.
  • Think about whether buying drugs is worth the risk right now. It is illegal to purchase them, COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, and the chances that you will get spoken to by police if you are out and about are higher.
Remember, slipping up and having a bad situation can happen. Be gentle on yourself if it does happen, and think about what you can do to get back on track. Avoid making the situation worse out of frustration.