A note on illicit drugs

So last month I wrote a few posts on alcohol. What about drugs?

Ready,
DON’T take them.
Did that answer really surprise you?

Because drugs are super scary.
They have stronger and faster effects than alcohol.

People die every day because their body reacted badly
– either the drug made their body stop working properly OR
– under the influence of drugs they made life threatening choices OR
– after one taste their body changed to want that drug incessantly.

Under the illicit drugs category I include marijuana, heroin, ice etc AND unprescribed medication.

“The number of Australians currently overdosing on addictive medication is overtaking the road toll, the majority of these are accidental.” Alcohol & Drug Foundation

Prescribed medications are not illicit drugs (if they are prescribed for the person taking them and taken as prescribed). I am privileged to live in Brisbane where we have access to doctors, pharmacies and medicine.
There is interesting research happening with medical marijuana, but I’m not convinced yet.

Drugs and addiction are not things I know much about. I’ve had hallucinations, sleep paralysis, times of uncontrollable highs and stretches of deep lows as part of my messy mental health. I want to avoid inducing those symptoms or delusions even as I pursue escapism.

Casual user
IF you are trying drugs:
Think about it in advance.
Be with people you trust.
Do not mix them with alcohol.
Have someone who can call 000.

Obviously people are unlikely to follow this but I still feel it is important to say.

My series on Alcohol is also up on the blog.
Consumption
Service
How to host a cocktail party
Visible Excess
Invisible Excess
Relationship

Alcohol: Relationship

I’m writing at a bar: sipping an espresso martini and jiggling a two month baby to sleep on my lap.

After considering many aspects of alcohol, particularly the visible and invisible excess: what is my relationship with alcohol? What is your relationship with alcohol?

Here are some questions I have been pondering to help me consider if I have a healthy and sustainable relationship with alcohol.

Could I stop drinking for a day? For a week? For a month?
Do I need to drink to relax? Have fun? Forget?
Do I drink alone?
When I list all the drinks I had this week, does it sound concerning? Can I remember all the drinks?

Do any answers to these questions raise flags of concern that your relationship may be destructive?

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Alcohol: Invisible Excess

Someone asked me to write about responsible drinking, which led to the recent blog series on alcohol. This post will be the second last instalment: the penultimate.

So far we’ve covered: responsible drinking and service of alcohol, how to host a cocktail party, and an excess of alcohol in one day. One night of excessive alcohol can make you sick or foolish and may kill you. I highlighted embarrassing behaviour, getting sick, or passing out.

But some of us are highly functional whilst inebriated. Excessive drinking doesn’t always look stupid. But things can be dangerous and bad for you even if it’s not embarrassing.

You (or someone else) may be drinking to excess with no visible signs – without getting loud or silly or sick or passing out.

Jonathan drinks 20 standard drinks in a sitting (that’s two thirds of bottle of vodka or gin or rum).

Felicity drinks a bottle of wine (7.5 standard drinks) every Friday night.

Jonathan drinks a cocktail before every social event.

Felicity drinks all the free alcohol available at events (that’s 9 glasses of champagne in the Posh Pit at MONA)

Jonathan has a finger or two of Scotch each night.

Felicity has a gin & tonic some nights, but uses her usual water glass as a measure.

These people do not ever look ‘drunk’, but they are drinking to excess. They are hurting themselves and things are dangerous.

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Alcohol: Visible Excess

We’ve talked about Consumption and Service of Alcohol. Now we will talk about Excess.
I’ll repeat my previous litany,

drinking alcohol is not required. Drinking too much makes you sick, foolish and can kill you.

This part has caused me much angst. I want to share some personal stories, but I’m don’t want drunkenness seem tolerable or amusing.

Here are three times I made stupid choices.

  1. Over 18s Concert Out with friends in Fortitude Valley. I was feeling the alcohol, so I left to find the taxi rank and use my emergency $20 (kept in my Doc Martens). I should not have walked the Valley alone. This was a stupid decision.

  2. Drinking games with uni friends. I was uncomfortable and wanted the game to stop. The game would stop when we ran out of alcohol, so I started drinking all the alcohol. This was a stupid decision.

  3. Drive home from friend’s party. I get travel sick. I sat in the middle of back seat with no airflow, no sight of horizon, lots of curvy roads. I threw up on the back of my friend’s head. I had motion sickness, but the beer in my belly did not help. This was a stupid decision.

 

What to do when you’ve had too much

Losing control of thoughts, feeling a little sick

  • stop drinking alcohol
  • drink water
  • eat something

Losing control of body, feeling quite nauseous

  • stop drinking alcohol
  • drink water
  • move to a safe place
  • have someone observe you

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Alcohol: How to host a cocktail party

Guest post from my regular barkeep, Lucas.

  1. Consider the space. You have to imagine your place with people in it. What if all the people you invite overlap for at least a brief period? How are they going to move through the space? Can they get to the toilet without pushing through three or four conversations?The space also has acoustics. Are people going to be able to hear each other talk? Think carefully about whether you want to play music. Draping some cloth along walls can function as decoration and primitive sound dampeners.
  2. Plan an array of drinks. I think it’s too much effort to have the kind of long drinks menu that you find in a cocktail bar. (To be honest, I’m not always impressed by those long menus – they often lack cohesion.) A menu covers pretty well every kind of guest the place might get. A drinks array only needs to address each category of guest and offer them an appropriate drink.Categories include: experienced cocktail drinker, person who’s tried some before and wants to experiment a little, someone willing to try their first cocktail, person who needs something low alcohol, someone who can’t drink at all but wants to feel included, and the person who just wants a beer.You only need to offer one drink that’s suitable for each of these categories. Sometimes one drink can cover more than one – if you have something mid-strength but with an interesting balance of flavours, that might be good for both the experimenter and the experienced drinker.
  3. Signal your strength. Always, always, always make it clear how many standard drinks are in each cocktail you serve. Never assume that people know what a martini or a Lindberg Crossing means. You probably want to prepare some drink menus that indicate the strength of each drink.If a drink is deceptive – a lot stronger than it tastes – mention that to people.If you’re not sure if someone can handle another drink, don’t give it to them. It’s your party. Don’t let anyone pressure you into serving them against your conscience.
  4. Control conversations. If someone is showing off and being a prick about their knowledge on some topic – usually drinking related – you need to step in and change the topic. Ask someone a question about what they liked or didn’t like in their last drink. If you let someone arrogant control the conversation, people will have a bad time. As host, it’s your job to stop that from happening.
  5. Start from what people like. If someone likes fruity drinks, try to think of a drink that has fruity flavours but does something interesting with them. If someone likes bourbon, what’s something strong and sweet and smooth? It’s no use telling people that they should love Drink X. You need to consider what they know and like.
  6. Set clear times. Don’t let the party go longer than you can manage. Tell people when the start and end times are and stick to them. Having an exhausted and frazzled host means the party stops being fun.

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Alcohol: Service

Alcohol is not the highlight of life. If you choose never to drink, you continue to have a full life. If your friends/acquaintances never drink, they continue to have a full life.

However, I like the way it tastes and enjoy sharing things I like with people. I even post such things @brisbanebeverages on Instagram.  So part 2 in my ramblings on alcohol is about Service. How to serve alcohol in a loving way.

Information about the Law
PURCHASE
Bottleshop
To buy alcohol you need to be over 18, not intoxicated and not in company of under 18s.

Online
You need to acknowledge you are over 18.

Venue
Over 18, not intoxicated, inside licensed premises.

CONSUMPTION
Public
There is no public drinking allowed in Brisbane outside of licensed venues and hours. Venues may serve alcohol to people over the age of 18, who are not intoxicated and are inside the venue.
But sometimes public spaces are licensed e.g Riverside Green at Southbank 2-8pm.

Private – at your party
Over 18s
Whatever else you want.

BUT

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Alcohol: Consumption

Friends coming over for dinner – open a bottle of wine.

Hot afternoon mowing the lawn – grab a cold beer.

Graduation celebration – open the cellared whiskey.

Easter Sunday – open the bubbly.

Grandparent visit – pre dinner spirits.

Alcohol is part of our family life. Not always, but consistently. My siblings and I saw our parents and their friends drink. We learnt about different types of alcohol – their styles, intensity and production. Sometimes the parents shared a taste with us. Their education shaped my drinking.

Spending time with me will sometimes involve drinking. I’ll be at Brewsvegas events this week (Brisbane Craft Beer Festival). I run a regular Gin Tasting Club. I’m more likely to drink the Shiraz than want to cook with it.

How does love fit with drinking?

I’ll explain some basic information and then share some thoughts about being a responsible drinker.  Posts coming next week on responsible service of alcohol and actions when someone has drunk too much.

Standard Drinks
What is a standard drink?

The measurement of liquid containing 10g of alcohol.
Why does it exist? To help people like you and me know how much we are drinking.
It protects us from doing the awkward maths of 2 pots of 5% beer plus 1 schooner of 10% is …

It gives us a rough guide for how it may affect our bodies.

The government reckons men can have 2 standard drinks in the first hour, and 1 standard drink in the following hours. Women can have 1 standard drink in the first and each following hour. Before they reach intoxication level, where alcohol impairs their observation skills and decision making ability.

But you are an Individual

A variety of factors impact the effect of alcohol – body mass, familiarity with alcohol, other medication influences, stomach contents.

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