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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Preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases

Sex, drugs and alcohol

The links between alcohol and drugs and sexual behaviour are well known.

A recent study1 investigating the relationship between substance use and sexual behaviour in young people in Britain found that both men and women who said they participated in frequent binge drinking or used drugs recently were more likely to report:

  • unprotected first sex with one or more new partner(s) in the last year,
  • having sex early in a relationship,
  • using emergency contraception use in the last year, and
  • being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past 5 years.

Researchers noted that associations with sexual risk were frequently stronger for those reporting multiple substance use, particularly among men.

Sexually transmitted infections

The high levels of STIs have been well-documented over recent years. The most recent figures for England show that:

  • In 2018, there were 447,694 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England1, a 5% increase since 2017,
  • There were 56,259 diagnoses of gonorrhoea reported in 2018, a 26% increase since 2017,
  • There were 7,541 diagnoses of syphilis reported in 2018, a 5% increase since 2017.


Other than not participating in any sexual intercourse, the most effective way of reducing the risk of contracting an STI is the use of condoms. Pubs and clubs can help by ensuring that condoms are available, either as part of a condom distribution scheme or through condom machines which should be available in both male and female toilets. It is important to check condom machines regularly to ensure they are still working.

Having CCTV coverage of secluded areas and ensuring that toilet attendants are present at all times can discourage sex acts taking place on premises.


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