If you Go, Go Slow' harm reduction campaign launches as night-time economy reopens on October 22nd

In light of the night-time economy reopening today (Friday, 22nd October), the HSE is launching a new drugs harm-reduction campaign, reminding people who choose to use drugs: ‘If You Go, Go Slow’.

HSE Drugs.ie is unveiling the campaign #IfYouGoGoSlow with a launch event, which brings together a community of key stakeholders to share harm prevention information and to discuss the benefits of providing health and social interventions in nightlife settings.

A live panel will discuss the changing drug landscape and consider safer nightlife responses with insights from the HSE, DJs and event industry representatives.

Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE’s National Clinical Lead-Addiction Services, said: “Not everyone who socialises in nightlife venues uses substances, but we are aware of increasing levels of stimulant use among young people in Ireland. We are also seeing use occurring in extra risky ways with people taking multiple substances at a time.

“Based on the reopening of nightlife in the UK earlier this year, we have a number of concerns in relation to overdose and fatalities happening at this time. We are aware that the current drug market trends may lead to the increased likelihood of overdose and people may be at greater risk due to time off from using drugs. Tolerance levels may have changed.

“Following the launch of our recent report on drug trends and drug checking, we are committed to improving the area of providing on-going information and support to young people, starting with this event and new campaign, focusing on people who will use drugs as nightlife reopens. While it’s safer not to use drugs at all, we ask people to consider the steps they can take with an aim to minimise the harms to their health.”

The campaign’s objectives include to start a conversation on nightlife risks around stimulant culture in nightlife venues, raise awareness that drugs.ie is the place to go for drug safety information, inform people on how to reduce the harms from stimulants, educate people that drugs may be of higher potency and strength and their tolerance might be lower, and to raise awareness of the HSE’s recent report on improving night life responses and providing a pathway to services, from the ‘Emerging Drug Trends and Drug Checking Working Group’.

As part of this ‘If you Go, Go Slow’ campaign remember:

  • Club drugs such as MDMA and cocaine are increasing in strength throughout Europe, increasing the risk of overdose. New substances can appear in pills, powders crystals and cannabis products.
  • It’s always safer not to use drugs at all. If you do, be aware about the current risks to your health as night life reopens in Ireland.
  • High strength drugs and new drugs are appearing, increasing the risk of overdose at this time.  Contaminants may also be present.  A number of alerts have been recently issued in the UK about MDMA pills, powders and crystals found in nightlife settings.
  • If it’s your first time going to night clubs and events, decide if this is the right time to use drugs, it may not be for you. You could react differently in new settings, with new people, if your tolerance to drugs has changed or if you have concerns about your mood and mental health.
  • Some people may feel they have to ‘make up’ for lost time which could lead to using substances in extra risky ways. Remember to mind yourself and look out for your friends. If you go, go slow.

Frank Feighan, Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, added:  “A key objective of the National Drugs Strategy aims to develop harm reduction interventions targeting at risk groups, and it is crucial we make these interventions available in all settings, including the night-time economy.

“I'm very happy to lend my support to this important new HSE campaign, 'If you Go, Go Slow', which promotes harm reduction messages that raise awareness about emerging drug trends and drug market concerns. I strongly encourage everyone attending events within the night-time economy, and those who are putting on events, to take on board these messages.

“It is of the upmost importance that those who put on events and festivals within the night-time economy, build harm reduction and prevention measures into their events. This has been recommended in the report from the Emerging Drug Trends and Drug Checking Working Group, which was recently published by the HSE.

“It is imperative that when people go out to enjoy themselves that they can do so in a safe environment and the provision of these harm reduction messages and services will ensure that.”

For more information see www.drugs.ie/afterlockdown and #IfYouGoGoSlow on social media.

Last updated on: 22 / 10 / 2021