“At Charing Cross station, a 30-year-old woman is lying on the floor of the men’s toilets after a Christmas party. She cannot get up and has soiled herself. She spends the night at St Thomas’ hospital.”
This unedifying report is from a journalist who, in December 2014, shadowed the crew of the Soho booze bus, which treats people with alcohol-related illnesses and injuries.
Excess booze leaves us prone to making terrible decisions. It takes 30 minutes to start feeling the effects of alcohol, so drinking more than one drink every 30 minutes means you’re drinking too much, too fast.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, two-thirds of date rapes involve alcohol, which prevents victims fending off attacks, while impairing the thinking and inhibitions of perpetrators, for whom such behaviour might be out of character. Accepting drinks from strangers also leaves you open to drink spiking, and since rohypnol is a tranquiliser 10 times more potent than valium, when mixed with alcohol, it could even lead to coma or death.
When you combine alcohol and peer pressure, it can take you even further into nightmare territory.
Remember this headline: “British Girl Blows 24 Lads in Magaluf for a £2 Bottle of Cava”? The video went viral. It could be a slippery slope from ‘shots with friends to ‘most-shared video on Facebook’ and a lifetime of living it down (plus a trip to the STI clinic).
If you go home with a stranger, you’re taking a risk. Do at least let a friend know where you are going, have your phone charged and enough cash for a cab home.
Condoms are less likely to be used on one-night stands, leading to risk of pregnancy for heterosexual women, or STIs for women and men. Note that one in seven gay men in London are HIV positive and around a third of men living with HIV never disclose their status to casual partners.
Also bear in mind research conducted by Durham University which found that only 54% of women surveyed had positive feelings after casual sex, compared with 80% of men.
When it comes to getting home in the wee hours, despite reports of ‘failures in Uber’s background checks’ , it is much safer to use Uber or a black cab than an unlicensed one, or than walking home alone in the manner of a Crimewatch reconstruction.
If you have to walk, keep to well-lit areas, tell your friends where you’re going and that you’ll text when you’re home.
Avoid all this by formulating a drinking strategy before you go out, planning your journey home, and ensuring you and your mates look after one another!