ACT News

Emergency services warn Canberra revellers of New Year's Eve drug dangers

Paramedics have urged Canberra's Gen Y revellers to steer clear of potentially lethal concoctions of party drugs as they ring in the new year.

Revellers can expect bolstered police and paramedic crews in Civic for New Year's Eve celebrations. ACT Policing's ...
Revellers can expect bolstered police and paramedic crews in Civic for New Year's Eve celebrations. ACT Policing's regional targeting team members Acting Sergeant David Power, Constable Julian Carey, and Constable James Sutherland. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The ACT's emergency services will bolster patrols at busy entertainment precincts as partygoers gear up for New Year's Eve celebrations throughout the city.

Police will crack down on anti-social behaviour, while extra intensive care paramedic crews and first aid workers will patrol Civic and treat patients at two field hospitals set up on London Circuit.

ACT Ambulance Service duty officer Paul Ribbons said while alcohol and drug use was mostly common among young people, partygoers should avoid experimenting with drugs because they had no idea what could be in them.

"Don't try anything. You just can't take the risk," Mr Ribbons said.

"It's truly a lucky dip and no one knows what these drug manufacturers are putting in them."

A string of high-profile deaths of young people at music festivals in 2015 because of illegal drugs had reinforced the dangers of experimenting with illicit substances, he said.

An ACT Policing spokeswoman said methamphetamine, crystal methamphetamine or ice, and MDMA caused the most concern for police.

"These are potent, illicit drugs, and nothing about them is anything like the casualness the word 'party' drug suggests," she said.

"Amphetamine-type substances have been linked to violence, crime and are very damaging to individuals."

Mr Ribbons said although ice had been cheap and prevalent in recent years, Canberra's paramedics had also seen recently more heroin creeping back into the market.

Illicit drugs could often trigger psychotic episodes and erratic behaviour from users, who were predominantly aged in their 20s or early 30s, he said.

"They can be hallucinating, they can be talking to someone who's not there, they can be sitting quietly in the corner one minute and then causing trouble the next."

Alcohol remained the biggest problem for paramedics and they regularly treated revellers who were injured or involved in violent assaults because they'd had too much to drink, he said.

"You'd be silly if you didn't realise people were going to have a drink on New Year's Eve but drink in moderation and don't even think of getting behind the wheel of a car if you've had a drink.

"People who drink too much just end up being miserable and vomiting. They end up hungover."

Police took 16 drunk young people into protective custody during New Year's Eve celebrations in the city in 2014, down from 39 the previous year.

ACT Policing is targeting impaired driving during summer. Double demerit points are in place until midnight on Sunday, January 3.