‘We need to ensure that people are safe when they’re choosing to take drugs’

‘We need to ensure that people are safe when they’re choosing to take drugs’

A “judgment-free” campaign was launched to help reduce the harm from alcohol and drug use in the city.

Bristol is the first city in the UK to launch this type of city-wide campaign, which aims to open an honest conversation about the risk factors of drug and alcohol use while promoting safety.

Harm Reduction and the Night Economy, launched by Bristol Nights, aims to move away from the traditional zero tolerance approach and build trust between people going into Bristol’s pubs, clubs, bars and festivals, as well as between venues and Licenses authorities and police.

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The campaign, launched on Wednesday, aims to raise awareness on how to recognize the signs of a drug-related emergency and what to do in the situation.

Ellie King, Labor Councilor and Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said the campaign is “about a more people-centric and compassionate approach to drug use” rather than a zero-tolerance approach. She said:

“We need to make sure people are safe when they decide to use drugs. It’s not about condoning drug use, it’s about accepting that we live in a reality where drug use is happening.

“Bristol has historically had a war on drugs versus drug use in the city. There was a zero tolerance and assertive approach and the results from that weren’t great, they didn’t have the results that maybe were intended.

“We need to be able to look at different approaches while listening to the research. We have heard many stories of people taking drugs and falling into the port or taking drugs not knowing what was in them and the substance was too strong resulting in a negative result and hospitalization or resulted in death, and that is only justly unacceptable.

“These deaths are completely preventable and with a different approach we can ensure they are used safely and do no harm.”

Councilwoman Ellie King said the campaign is “about taking a more people-centric and compassionate approach to drug use” – Photo: Rachel Sutherland

The campaign, launched in partnership with Avon & Somerset Police, UWE, the University of Bristol and the University’s two student unions – to name but a few – offers event owners and managers across the city practical guidance on how to which you can give to the employees to reduce damage in the night economy.

The campaign also wants to focus on spiking awareness – to publicize the venues that offer spiking test kits behind the bar.

As part of the campaign, charity The Loop will offer a monthly drug testing service in Bristol next year, allowing people to test their medicines anonymously while receiving advice from a doctor.

For more information about the campaign, advice and guidance, visit the Bristol Nights website.

Main photo: Bristol Nights

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