Getting Summer Ready!

With summer here many people are fast getting used to the “new normal” and celebrating again. But some of us still might not feel ready and that’s okay too. Kooth offers an online wellbeing community if you’d like some free, safe support at any time.

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It is completely understandable that you might feel anxious about going out, especially if you haven’t been around crowds in a long time.

Your mind and body may have lower tolerance levels, whether this is how sensitive and safe you feel in your surroundings or in the group you are with or how your body reacts to lots of noise or drinking alcohol for example.

Different people have different ways of enjoying summer. For some, it’s all about the music festival season. For others, time off school after exams and relaxing at home is the main aim. Going out with a group of friends may involve some of you drinking alcohol, others prefer to stick with soft drinks and many do something completely different like shopping, sports, volunteering, going for a walk or to see a film.

So try not to feel pressured into situations in which you’re not comfortable. Always listen to your intuition, and if something doesn’t seem or feel right to you, despite what everyone thinks or says, then it’s not right for you. We don’t always need to change things we’ve got used to over the past 2 years. What’s important is that you feel comfortable to learn and go at your own pace.

What can I do to prepare?

If you’re going out to have a great time, here are some top tips to help you make sure you stay safe whilst having fun.

Thinking about drinking alcohol?

Make sure you know about alcohol and the law – it’s illegal for someone under 18 to buy, attempt to buy or be sold alcohol. But if you do try alcohol …

  • Start slow and go slow. Learn your limits and stick to them.
  • Alternate alcohol with soft drinks or water
  • Eat! Food will give the energy to keep you going, as well as line your stomach.
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from someone you don’t know. Alcohol is the most common substance used to spike drinks (putting drugs or alcohol into your drink without you knowing).
  • Plan ahead. If you’re going out – plan your ’get away‘. You might not need it, but just in case, have someone you can rely on ready to pick you up, if things go wrong. Or call it a night with your bestie in tow and head home if your gut tells you to.

What about taking drugs?

  • Most young people do not use illegal substances.
    Using drugs carries risks.
  • It’s important that you understand the law – the law relating to illegal drugs, and the potential serious effects on your health, particularly mental health.
  • Illegal drugs vary in strength and purity and you won’t know how strong they are or exactly what’s in them. Tolerance levels can be very different for different people.
  • Keep safe and aware of your surroundings if you and your friends decide to take drugs. Consider what it might feel like being intoxicated or ‘high’ in your situation. Think if you and your friends have been open and honest about your drug taking and importantly, what would you do in an emergency or when someone needs urgent help.

Cannabis & Edibles

Cannabis – Some people may choose to smoke cannabis.

You might also have heard of edibles? These are food products such as gummy bears or brownies, often containing a large amount of the active ingredients (THC and CBD) in cannabis.

Unlike smoking or vaping, it’s harder to control an edibles dose, as once swallowed, it’s in your body. Edibles can take 2-3 hours to reach their peak effect and these can be felt for 4-12 hours, much longer than through smoking or vaping cannabis. So it’s easy to accidentally take a larger dose than you wanted to. If you do use edibles, reduce any harm by:

  • Eating a meal first, to slow down the effect
  • Going slowly to allow plenty of time to digest them before you feel their full effects
  • Not mixing edibles with alcohol or other substances
  • Avoiding using edibles on your own. Have people around you in case you’re unwell
  • Always keep edibles away from children, as they can look just like sweets

Party Drugs – be in the know

“Party drugs” such as Ecstasy/MDMA are sold illegally as tablets, capsules or powder, with no guarantee of quality or purity. Many do not even include MDMA but are contaminated with harmful toxic substances. Ecstasy/MDMA causes the body’s nervous system to speed up (e.g. faster heart rate, dizziness, nausea). So, it’s safer to avoid these drugs. But if you do decide to take them, reduce your risk of harm:

  • Do not take multiple doses quickly. The first dose can take time to show its effects and so if you take more too soon, it can lead to an overdose.
  • Avoid mixing with other drugs
  • Mixing with medications can be dangerous – e.g. certain antidepressants.
  • Sip water regularly (around half a pint every hour)
  • Keep cool
  • Be ready to know what to do in an emergency

And Finally – About Nicotine

Cigarettes and vaping equipment both contain nicotine, which is an addictive stimulant. It’s important to know that, in the UK, selling cigarettes or vaping equipment to someone under 18 is illegal and it is also illegal to buy them for someone else, who is under 18.

Remember that you don’t have to use alcohol or other drugs to have fun, but you can Talk to Frank at any time for confidential advice.

Deciding to have sex?

Whether you’re starting dating, having sex for the first time, with new partners or in a steady relationship, safer sex is best.

Practising safe sex means, using a condom to keep you or your partner safe from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – for all types of sex – and safe from pregnancy risk for penis/vagina sex. You can access free condoms and STI testing here.

It’s also important to ensure any sex you have is consensual. Sex with consent means you both agree to do something sexual, feel happy and comfortable with it, with neither of you feeling pressured to do something you don’t want to do.

  • Remember, even if you and your partner first consent, you have the right to change your mind and say “no” or “stop” at any point.
  • Being drunk or high might mean either or both of you are much less aware of what is going on, and therefore are not able to give full consent.
  • You can read more about sex, consent and the law on the Brook website here.

When the party is all going on

  • Check in with yourself – how do you feel? Would you do this if you were alone? How will you feel about this tomorrow? What can you do to make this experience feel better?
  • Good friends make you feel good. Great mates respect your choices, whether this is saying you’ve had enough alcohol (bottle of water instead?), or that you feel uncomfortable in a certain situation.
  • Check in with your friends – do they look happy, or unwell? Do they look tense and panicky? Or are they drowsy and sleepy?
  • Follow your instincts. If you are worried that something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. It is often harder to live with the consequences of something going wrong, than dealing with the situation quickly.
  • If things do go wrong, don’t be afraid to offer or ask for help fast. Being the best friend you can be might mean delivering some basic first aid. But it could even mean calling an emergency service should it come down to it.

The morning after the night before

Hopefully, you’ve had a great time but remember, to check in the next day with yourself and your friends – you might feel low afterwards, especially if you’ve been drinking alcohol or smoked cannabis or are just lacking sleep. Rest, eat, drink water, sleep.

  • If you or a friend are feeling low, or struggling to cope, contact one of the free confidential 24/7 helplines like Childline or text service 85258 from Shout.
  • If you had unplanned and/or unprotected sex, you can usually prevent pregnancy if you act fast. Find your local service for emergency contraception and STI testing.
  • If the sex you had wasn’t consensual, seek help. You don’t have to report it to the police, but you can still get help. Whether you are a girl or boy – The Havens are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for urgent rape and sexual abuse advice/appointments: tel: 020 3299 6900.
  • If you or someone you know is worried about dealing with a drug or alcohol problem, call FRANK anytime confidentially on 0300 123 6600, or look for a local young people’s substance misuse service near you.

Make sure Summer 2022 is a summer to remember – for all the right reasons.

Find where to get FREE drug and alcohol advice services near you