Emergency Info

Guidelines on when to call the Emergency Services 999 for unwell recreational drug users

Call 999 if ANY one of the following is present:

Unconsciousness – if the patient does not respond to vocal commands, requires painful stimulus (e.g. pressure across the fingernails) to respond or does not respond at all.

Significant agitation (e.g. pacing around the room) or aggression not settling within 15 minutes.

Seizures (e.g. a convulsion similar to an epileptic fit)

Breathing difficulties such as fast breathing rate which does not settle within 15 minutes.

Heart rate over 140 beats per minute not settling within 5 minutes.

Temperature over 38.5 not settling after about 5 minutes of rest, or if very flushed and feels very hot if no thermometer is available.

Blood pressure – Systolic (“upper pressure”) over 180mmHg, or Diastolic (“lower pressure”) over 110mmHg on two repeated blood pressure measurements.

Other concerns – if there are any other concerns (e.g. severe headache, chest pain).


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Thanks to

The London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum is very grateful for the help and support of all those who have contributed to this publication. In particular we would like to thank:
Harmony Blake; Ian Broughton; David Bulbrook; Paul Bunt; Jim Cathcart; Phillipe Chiarella; Paul Dargan; David Doyle; Ian Graham; Rob Gray; Tony Green; David Mackintosh; Fiona Measham; Aggie Minas; Susan Neil; John Ramsey; John Sandlin; Trevor Shine; Adam Winstock; David Wood & Steve Wood.

We would also like to acknowledge the valuable support of the Institute of Licensing in helping initiate this edition.

We would also like to thank Philip Kolvin QC in providing the impetus to get the project started.

Special thanks to all those in the City of London who contribute to and administer the Late Night Levy which provided vital funding for the production of this resource.

The London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum

The London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum was established in 1991 to help co-ordinate London local authority policy and practice and to encourage joint working. It is funded by the City of London Corporation as part of its commitment to the wellbeing of the capital and the nation and works closely with a number of partners including:

  • Adfam
  • City of London Police
  • Frank
  • Greater London Authority
  • Home Office
  • Metropolitan Police Service
  • ​Public Health England

This site is the fourth version of the Safer Nightlife guidance that the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum has issued.

Written by Russell Webster

Russell Webster have over 25 years’ experience as a researcher, consultant and writer in the substance misuse and criminal justice sectors. He maintains a broad portfolio of work which includes working for government departments and small voluntary sector agencies. He runs the country’s leading blog on substance misuse and justice issues at: russellwebster.com.

Produced by Ideology

Ideology is a branding and digital design agency with studios in London and Norfolk.

Drug images supplied by TICTAC

TICTAC Communications Ltd as been a leading provider of drug identification and drug information to the criminal justice and healthcare sectors over the last 20 years, it is based in the medical school at St. George’s University of London.


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