Staying safe during the festive Season

The Outer Hebrides Alcohol and Drug Partnership (OHADP) launches its winter campaign this month, with a focus on staying safe during the festive season. 

It is the time of year when pressures are put on everyone, from buying gifts to excessive eating and drinking.   For those who are participating in festive celebrations, it is easy to get swept away with the excitement, especially as everyone goes back to ‘normal’ following the covid 19 restrictions.   Lockdown has had an impact on so many areas of life, and it is important that you have some awareness of keeping yourself and others safe.  

Scotland is facing a public health challenge with the highest level of drug deaths in the developed world and one of the highest alcohol death rates in the UK.   There were 1,330 drug misuse deaths in 2021 and 1,245 alcohol specific deaths in 2021 and 35,124 alcohol related hospital admissions in Scotland during this time.  In the Western Isles during 2020 there were 300 alcohol related attendances at A&E departments with 36 drug related hospital discharges

There are options for those that choose not to drink, such as asking for mocktails or soft drinks and asking peers to accept your decision not to drink alcohol.   For those that wish to drink alcohol, it is recommended that you don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week. If you do plan on drinking it is advised to spread this evenly across the week rather than ‘saving up’ drinking alcohol for one session.   It can be easy to go over this limit when you consider that six pints of beer, at 4% alcohol by volume (abv) is 14 units and six medium glasses of 13% abv wine is 14 units.  Most drinks labels contain the alcohol percentage (abv) and the number of units.  You can also check on your units by accessing the drinks calculator on the website at to keep an eye on how many units you have.  

The Outer Hebrides Alcohol and Drug Partnership would advise people not to take illegal drugs.  However, for those who chose to, it is important to be aware of what you have taken.  In some instances where drugs have been tested, they contained other substances and mixed drugs which could affect your reaction.  It is therefore important that you only try a small amount and wait at least an hour to gauge the effects before considering taking any more.  Stick to the amount you have rather than buy more, so you know how much you have taken, and only take drugs in a safe environment

Nationally, there has been publicity on spiking, where a person gives alcohol or other drugs to someone else without their consent.  This could be done by buying double measures or piling someone with drink when they are already under the influence.    Drug spiking, using Ketamine or cocaine, can be very dangerous when mixed with alcohol, as the person can become unresponsive and could overdose. Signs to look out for include confusion, loss of co-ordination, slurred speech, and vomiting.  Less uncommon is spiking by needle, however if you suspect you or someone you know has been attacked with a needle, alert the venue manager, and contact the police immediately and don’t leave the person alone.  Monitor them and if they deteriorate, please call an ambulance, or take them to the nearest Emergency Department.   Spiking is an offence, and anyone charged with this crime could face a prison sentence. 

Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, from drugs such as Heroin, Methadone, Buprenorphine and Oxycodone, as well as other illicit and prescribed opiate-based medications.  Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD) offer a discreet click and deliver postal service for either a Naloxone prefilled injection or a nasal spray kit.  You can request a kit through their secure online portal – and training will be provided either via Scottish Drugs Forum e-learning or SFAD will provide training over the phone.

If you are worried about your drug taking or someone else’s there are various sites, you can access. SFAD’s website has drug and alcohol factsheets, information on prescription drugs, support for LGBTQ+ people, families, and communities as well as offering helplines and online forums. contains information on the most current, up to date drug and their side effects.   You might also wish to consider having a chat with your GP or practice nurse.  

Further information on the risks of drinking too much and tips for cutting down can be found on –

Details of local and national alcohol and drug treatment services can be found on the Outer Hebrides Alcohol and Drug Partnership website-

And finally, always plan your route home and stay together with your friends or family to make sure everyone gets home safely and has a peaceful festive season.    

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