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Party drugs

5-minute read

What is a party drug?

When you are at a party, festival or concert, you might be offered drugs with the promise of having an even better time. Although taking party or recreational drugs might seem fun, there are lots of risks and downsides to taking them. And they are usually illegal.

If you are trying to decide whether or not to take a party drug, it is important to understand what you are taking and the risks related to that particular drug. Find out more about drug abuse and its risks here.

Party drugs fall into three categories:

Benzodiazepines may be used to ‘come down’ from stimulant use.

What are the effects of party drugs?

Party drugs are often taken to increase the enjoyment of social gatherings. They have different effects depending on what is in them. They can sustain energy and increase the perception of music.

What are the risks of party drugs?

Unlike prescription medicines, there is no quality control process for making many party drugs, because most of them are illegal. This means you do not know how strong the drug is and what other substances have been added to each batch. For example, ecstasy can be made using drain cleaner or battery acid. Even pills that look the same may have different ingredients and different effects.

Short-term risks

Dozens of Australians become seriously ill or die each year after using party drugs.

You might feel ill, with shaking, nausea and headaches. You might become confused, anxious, hostile or even psychotic.

You can even have life-threatening side effects such as heart problems, stroke, hyperthermia (over-heating), seizures (fits) and coma.

As well as being harmful to your body and mind, party drugs can put you at greater risk of:

  • unsafe sex
  • physical or sexual assault
  • physical injury, including car accidents

After taking party drugs, you might have a come-down and feel tired and irritable.

Longer-term risks

In the long term, party drugs can affect your mental and physical health, your relationships and your life overall.

Some party drugs are highly addictive, and it can be hard to stop if you are using them regularly. People who become dependent can get caught up in serious crime, or experience mental illness and accidental overdoses.

There is a strong relationship between drug use and mental health. If you have a mental illness, drug use can make it worse.

You may think you can safely manage the effects of drugs, but your drug use could have an unexpected impact on your life.

Drugs are especially harmful to children. Many drugs can cross the placenta and harm an unborn baby as well. You can find information about children and alcohol and other drugs on the Kids Helpline website.

What about the law and party drugs?

If you take illegal party drugs, you could find yourself in trouble with the law. You might be fined, lose your driver’s licence or go to prison. You could also find it hard to travel overseas.

What can I do to reduce the risks of taking party drugs?

It is best not to use party drugs, but there are some things you can do to help reduce the risks, including:

  • not mixing party drugs with alcohol
  • staying cool and drinking plenty of water
  • having a buddy system so that somebody (who is not taking drugs) is keeping an eye on you

You can also take other steps to stay safe at parties and music festivals.

Resources and support

If you have a problem with recreational drug use, you can contact:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2021

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