Drugs and Alcohol

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Many dancers described how alcohol is easily accessible in the clubs, it is part of the scene and it is usual for customers to offer to buy drinks for dancers.  Some dancers described how there could be a party atmosphere, of which alcohol was a part, which for some was easy and fun to get into especially at the start of dancing.  Dancers described how, to alleviate boredom on quieter nights, it could be tempting to drink more than intended. 

Dancers stressed;

  • The need to limit the amount of alcohol drank in work in order to stay in control, alert and business like. Be very conscious of how much you have drunk, know your limit!
  • Don’t feel obligated to accept alcohol from customers, have a soft drink.
  • Some dancers had a policy of no alcohol at work and only accepted soft drinks from customers.
  • Dancers stressed how alcohol and drug-taking can negatively impact on a dancer’s capacity to earn and stressed the need to avoid alcohol and drug use, remain professional and focused on work and earning.

Don’t drink – or you won’t earn money as effectively.

Keep your mind on the job, remember that this is work and if you do that you will earn better money

I’m more  conscious now of what I drink in work, I drink a lot less now and I can handle customers better now and any out of order behaviour

REMEMBER: There are strict rules about drug use in strip clubs, drug use is banned and if a dancer or other staff member is found using drugs their contract will not be renewed or they will be sacked if they are an employee. Drug dealing, as well as being a sackable offence, is a criminal offence and the police are most likely to be involved. Clubs have to stick to very strict regulations on drug use on their premises as part of their licence conditions and so have a zero tolerance policy on drugs. Clubs also have strict rules on alcohol consumption and drunkenness amongst dancers and other staff so make sure you are aware what there are.

Party Drugs

The University of Leeds research project found that the majority of dancers did not use drugs beyond alcohol (the most commonly used party drug). Yet some dancers spoke about how during dancing they were offered drugs by customers or when they were partying with friends after work. Particularly mentioned were stimulant or “party” drugs, this refers to psychostimulants or amphetamine type substances such as; cocaine, MDMA or ‘ecstasy’, speed, methamphetamine (‘ice’ or ‘crystal meth’) ketamine and GBH (gammahydroxybutyrate). These drugs each have a range of effects and harms.

A minority of dancers described how their party drug use had got out of control and became problematic for them, cocaine was particularly mentioned.

If you do use drugs or alcohol it is important for your health and safety that you find out about them, how to reduce the risks and follow key harm reduction tips.

Lifeline Manchester ‘Safer Clubbing’ leaflet provides some key reminders to help reduce the risks of using party or clubbing drugs for both people who are new to party drugs and people who’ve used them before these include;

  • Taking drugs is a big step that can involve lots of risks. If you are going to use drugs use them because you want to not just to fit in. Make an informed decision and learn as much about the drugs you plan to take as you can – before you take them.
  • If you decide to use drugs make a plan, set some limits. Don’t use several different drugs, especially stimulants and alcohol or stimulants and stimulants. Remember this can be dangerous and will make you feel rough in the morning. You can never really predict the effect of mixing different drugs.
  • Don’t double up if you think the drugs aren’t working, give it some time.
  • Stay cool, wear loose clothing, avoid wearing hats, take regular chill outs, sip water and avoid overheating.
  • Look out for your friends. Make a plan to be able to get in touch with your friends if you get separated. You can easily become disorientated and can get anxious. Your mates will be able to look after you and calm you down if they are experienced enough.
  • If you think a friend is in serious trouble call an ambulance/security staff.
  • Remember ‘what goes up must come down’ try not to hammer it three days in a row
  • Try to get some sleep, eat regularly and take some time out to recharge your batteries
  • Don’t forget condoms and lube. Whatever sex you have make sure it’s safe.

Dancers advised;

  • Alcohol and drugs can affect your awareness and your ability to recognise and act on your instincts.
  • You are more at risk if you are under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
  • Try not to use drugs and alcohol while you are working, if you do use small amounts that keep you “straight”.
  • The club is NOT the place to experiment with chemicals new to you.  You are at work – fair enough a different working environment to many – but be responsible.
  • Be aware of your intake if you do do drugs – regular use may make you more vulnerable to dependency and potential emotional and mental health problems.

This can creep up on you,before you know it if you aren’t switched on to your intake and the effects this is having on your life outside of work

  • If dancing, keep well hydrated but don’t over hydrate and take regular breaks.
  • Make arrangements for transport and avoid driving.
  • ‘Partner up’ with a friend who is not using.

Cocaine

The drugs information service FRANK describes cocaine as a white powder and explains that powder cocaine (also called coke), freebase and crack are all forms of cocaine. They’re all powerful stimulants, with short-lived effects – that means they temporarily speed up the way your mind and body work. Both ‘freebase’ cocaine (powder cocaine that’s been prepared for smoking) and ‘crack’ cocaine (a ‘rock’ like form of cocaine) can be smoked. This means that they reach the brain very quickly, while snorted powder cocaine gets to the brain more slowly.  All types of cocaine are addictive, but by reaching the brain very quickly freebase or crack tend to have a much stronger effect and be more addictive than snorted powder cocaine. Injecting any form of cocaine will also reach the brain more quickly but this has serious additional risks. Cocaine can give a powerful high but when the effects start to wear off, people experience a long ‘comedown’, when they feel depressed and run down. This crash can happen for days afterwards.

HIT’s “It’s a Fine Line” information leaflet  identifies the risks associated with cocaine use and how these can be reduced (For further information about HIT and their information resources go to; http://www.hit.org.uk/). It identifies a range of affects and problems associated with cocaine here are some of them;

  • Cocaine is a Class A controlled drug. A conviction for possessing or supplying cocaine could mean a fine or prison sentence.  Lifeline Manchester “Safer Clubbing” leaflet flags up that “supplying mates (even if your not making any money) can still count as dealing in class A drugs.
  • Physical health: cocaine makes your heart beat faster which may cause it to loose it’s natural rhythm. It can cause blood vessels near the heart to become narrow or close down. This is dangerous and can lead to a heart attack. If you have any chest pains when using cocaine see a doctor. The sudden increase in blood pressure caused by cocaine can also lead to blood vessels becoming weaker this can result in a stroke. Cocaine makes your body temperature rise, which can lead to over heating, and the risks of a seizure or fit. If you’ve ever had a fit while on coke there is a good chance it will happen again. If anything like this happens to you, stop using cocaine immediately. The risk of overheating increases if you mix cocaine with other stimulant-type drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamine (speed) or if you use cocaine in hot environments.  Snorting cocaine damages the inside of your nose and can cause nosebleeds. This can provide an opening for viruses such as hepatitis which can be spread by sharing  straws, banknotes or any other tube for snorting. Always use your own tube, don’t share. Women who use cocaine whilst pregnant increase the risk of miscarriage or premature birth. If you have been using and find out you are pregnant, it is safe for you to stop using cocaine immediately. The earlier you get advice from maternity or drugs services the better.
  • Mental Health: coke effects chemicals in the brain, which can influence your mood. When you stop taking cocaine, the chemical imbalance in your brain can make you feel tense, depressed, paranoid and aggressive. The more cocaine you use, the more likely you are to experience these problems. Cut down the amount of cocaine you use, use it less often or stop using completely.
  • Debt: spending to much money on coke is a common problem associated with it’s use. Don’t ‘borrow’ cocaine on the understanding that you’ll pay for it later – this can lead to you being in debt to some nasty people. Decide how much you can afford to spend on cocaine and stick to it.
  • Relationships: cocaine can make people become boring, devious, unreliable, arrogant and aggressive. Using cocaine can lead to problems in both your personal and working relationships.
  • Sex: cocaine does not turn everyone into a sex machine. Cocaine restricts blood flow, making it hard for men to get erection or to ejaculate. Women may find they do not become naturally lubricated. It is important to use a water based lubricant with condoms. Sex can last for longer which will increase the risk of damage to the penis, vagina or anus, and so increase the risks of getting sexually transmitted infections. Always practice safer sex by using condoms.
  • Control: cocaine use can become very hard to control – the more you take the more you want.  Is your cocaine and other drug use starting to become a problem?  Are you spending too much time, energy and money on cocaine? Cocaine use can quickly get out of hand, so cut down the amount you use, use it less often or stop using it completely.

HIT’s give the following self control tips:

  • Look after yourself: Cocaine reduces the desire for sleep and food, and can effect your physical and mental health. Eat a healthy and balanced diet and get plenty of sleep.
  • Don’t mix cocaine with other drugs: using with other drugs including alcohol increases the risk of health problems, such as fits or even heart attacks. Cocaine may give you the impression of being in control, but alcohol still affects your judgement and reflexes. This can lead to confusion, accidents, aggression and violence.
  • Use less, less often: to reduce the risks of overdoing it, space out the days between using. Don’t buy more than you need, thinking you will save some for tomorrow – you probably won’t. Using less, less often can make it easier to control your cocaine use and reduce the risks.
  • Avoid situations that remind you of cocaine: if you are trying to cut down, avoid things that remind you of cocaine, such as places, people and certain events that might make you think of cocaine and want to take it. Try to identify all the things you associate with using cocaine and make an effort to avoid them.

Getting Information & Support

If you do use drugs or alcohol it is important for your health and safety that you find out how to reduce the risks.  Go to FRANK (friendly, confidential drugs advice) http://www.talktofrank.com/ for a wide range of information about drugs, including information about the effects, risks and legal status of a wide range of drugs.

If you think your drug or alcohol use is a problem and you want help there should be support available in your area. To find out about drug and alcohol services in your area who should offer you professional, non-judgemental and confidential support go to FRANK (friendly, confidential drugs advice) for information about drug and alcohol services in your area (England and Wales): http://www.talktofrank.com/.  You can call: 0800 77 66 80 Txt: 82111  or  email: frank@talktofrank.com

For services in Scotland go to The Scottish Drugs Services Directory:
Call them on 0141 221 1175 or email them at enquiries@sdf.org.uk

Both these websites have a tool where you can search for services in your area.

For services in Northern Ireland go to drugsalcohol.info.