Excellent Autonomy Day Tips

In the classic 80’s movie, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, starring a very youthful Keanu Reeves, a very profound mantra was born ….. “Be Excellent to each other, and party on dude!”.

I’d like to expand on this great wisdom with a few additional tips to help you maximise your experience of Autonomy Day 🙂


  1. Get Your Priorities Right

We are all at University to get ahead in life, and Uni offers great opportunities for development, both academically and personally.  However, when partying becomes excessive and unsafe, it can have an extremely destructive effect on our studies and often our close relationships too. Uni is a big investment of time and money, and in order to get the best reward for that investment, partying safely is a wise decision to make.

  1. Party Planning

Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company famously said  “When we fail to plan, we plan to fail”.

When it comes to partying, if you choose to use alcohol or other drugs, then the planning parts of your brain are going to take a nap for a while, meaning that it becomes very easy to get caught up in what others are doing, and consuming excessive amounts of intoxicating substances.

Follow the plan Stan …..

  • Make a commitment to enjoy the day, and not write yourself off for the following day
  • Pre-plan how much alcohol or drugs you will use, and stick to it.
  • Set yourself a rule e.g. 1 alcoholic drink per hour, or less.
  • Lastly eat something healthy before you start partying to help absorb the alcohol.


  1. Inbetweeners

A great strategy is to always have a soft drink or water in between any alcoholic drinks. It will help you stay hydrated, save money and save your head pounding the following day.


  1. Know Your Substance

    Apologies for the graphic photo, but ignorance isn’t always bliss


If you are taking party drugs, it is really important to know what is in them. Since they are manufactured illegally, who knows where, by criminal gangs, use only drugs from a trusted source and use a small amount initially,  where ‘recreational’ dose is hard to estimate.


  1. Avoid Rounds and Drinking Games

Drinking games and rounds make it more difficult to stick to a plan, because we get caught up in peer pressure and social conformity.

Avoid getting caught up in a herd mentality.


  1. Be Excellent & Look After Your Mates

Keep an eye on your mates, if you think they seem drunk or are behaving out of character given how much you know they’ve had, they may have had their drink spiked, overdosed or be excessively intoxicated. If your friend is suffering from the effects of alcohol or drugs or needs help, suggestions include:

  • Always dial triple zero (000) for an ambulance in an emergency, or ask uni security to call as they can direct the ambulance on Campus. Don’t avoid calling the ambulance because you’re afraid the police may become involved, as the ambulance officers and security staff’s main consideration is the welfare of the student, and your friend may suffer serious consequences if you delay getting them help.
  • Stay close by your friend and monitor their wellbeing. Offer reassurance.
  • If your friend is unconscious, lay them on their side to reduce the risk of aspirating (breathing in) vomit.
  • If your friends have had too much to drink, encourage them to drink water or eat something. If they have gone somewhere to chill out or sober up check whether they are alone or with someone – are they safe?

7. Exit Strategy

  • Know beforehand how you will get home,
  • make sure you have enough money for a taxi or Uber.
  • If the plan changes, tell your mates where you are going and with whom.
  1. Knowledge is Power
  • Knowledge is Power said Einstein, so the more we know about the substances we take, the more power we have. I’m sure that’s what he meant.
  • Test your knowledge by taking the UON Thrive Survey  which asks questions about your alcohol use and provides you with personalised feedback on your drinking, possible health impacts and how your alcohol use compares to other university students.
  • The University also has a new drug & alcohol resource portal called eCliPSE UON, which provides access to free online treatment programs for students of the University of Newcastle who are wanting to improve with mental health or reduce alcohol or other drug use. eCliPSE allows students to complete some initial questionnaires to receive feedback about their mood and substance use and a recommendation on the most appropriate program. More information about eCliPSE is available at www.uoneclipse.com.au


9.   Take Advantage of the Placebo Effect

The Psychologist in me couldn’t resist mentioning the Placebo Effect in relation to partying safely. Placebo Effect is real physical effect that happens just by expecting something to happen. All pharmaceutical drugs are tested against sugar pills to screen out expectancy ( placebo) vs real effects.

What is very interesting is that there is also an expectancy effect for alcohol, which means that you can still get a feel good effect, even from a non-alcoholic beer, or mocktail.

So try a non-alcohol or low alcohol alternative , the great news is the placebo effect still works even if you know its a placebo.



About the author

Rich Thorpe is a Counselling & Coaching Psychologist, and an online counsellor at Newcastle University Counselling Service. His interests include Yoga, Martial Arts, Tennis, Bushwalking and getting up way to early to watch english premier league soccer.

The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to RPS@newcastle.edu.au.
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