This Months Junction Theme – Alcohol & Harm Reduction

Come along to our Wednesday and Friday Drop-ins to try some of our alcohol and harm-reduction activities or get information if alcohol in any way impacts your life, by your own drinking or someone elses.

Drinking alcohol can have its advantages; it might make you feel more relaxed or help you socialise with your mates. You might think that alcohol will help you have the time of your life especially now that the sun has decided to show up for a while, and there are all sorts of festivals happening between now and September!

Also when life hits a rough patch alcohol may seem to make things feel better. However, drinking comes with many risks physically, socially and emotionally! As a young person your body and mind are still developing and if you’re under 18 there’s no safe drinking limit for you in Scotland. There’s also the risk of alcohol becoming a regular unhealthy coping strategy if you start drinking for the wrong reasons such as when things go wrong in relationships or if you’re feeling depressed. As a depressant drug it can make things worse!

Binge drinking is drinking lots in one go and this is common at parties and festivals. Large amounts of alcohol consumed in one go can make it much easier to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do. In other words this means you’re more likely to take risks; unprotected sex, getting into fights and arguments, falling out with people or experimenting with drugs. There can be other horrible consequences like getting ill, being assaulted, robbed, ending up in hospital or even getting arrested.

We want you to have a good time and we’re not here to tell you not to drink or to police your drinking. However, because alcohol is a depressant, and because it doesn’t actually take away your stressful feelings, only ‘numb’ them temporarily, and because it can seriously harm your health we want to tell you about the concept of Harm Reduction. This is about self-managing your behaviours that are risky, damaging or unhealthy by putting in place plans and techniques to reduce the possible harm that could happen to you or others as a result.

Harm Reduction is about equipping yourself with honest information, safer options and strategies to reduce the possible harmful outcomes. (For alcohol this could be getting so drunk you can’t remember your night out the following morning, losing control, being sick, ending up somewhere that feels unsafe or getting in trouble with the law). Put simply, harm reduction is a way of thinking about the things you do to reduce the possible harmful consequences related to them if you choose to do it anyway.

If you do choose to, then it’s things like pacing yourself, knowing your limits, knowing when to stop, not drinking on an empty stomach, drinking water between drinks, not mixing drinks, not drinking when on medication, drinking in a safe place with people you really trust and watching over your drinks and not leaving them unattended! If you choose not to drink then being good at saying no is the ultimate harm reduction strategy.

Harm reduction is not about judging others but making the right informed choices for you. It’s about being your own expert, taking into account the possible reactions to any action, and cutting down on the dodgy and scary things that come with the things we decide to do! It’s about being safer!