Sex, drugs, and consent – KnowYourYes

Consent is something that we feel doesn’t get talked about enough. Everyone knows it’s mandatory, but it’s not actually as simple as someone saying Yes to something. Especially when drugs are added to the mix.

Consent 101

Consent is when you agree to do a thing.

This could be anything, from having a cup of tea with your nanna to a three-day acid bender in a natural history museum. When you sign a contract at a new job you’re consenting to abide by the rules they put in place. The key thing is that you agree to it.

You are a glorious dictatorship with you as a single ruler. Embrace it.

Nobody gets a vote on what you do but you.
Nobody gets a vote on what you do but you.
(unless what you’re doing is harming them, of course)

We realise we’ve said this twice, but it’s important enough to repeat.

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If you want to do something, awesome. If you don’t want to do something, also awesome. Nobody makes that decision for you. Even if your nanna’s tea is really great and she’s busted out the fancy tea set, if you’re not feeling the tea vibe, she doesn’t get to make you have tea. End of.


There are two acronyms that people use to remember the elements of consent:


FRIES stands for

Basically you’re saying Yes to something

  • because you genuinely want to,
  • you can take your Yes back at any time,
  • you know exactly what you’re saying Yes to,
  • you’re stoked about your Yes, and
  • your Yes applies to one thing and nothing else.

This is a good start, but there are some nuances that FRIES misses.

Freely-given can be a bit of a dicey one when you’re taking drugs. Most drugs are disinhibitors, which in part is why folks take them – to find and push their own boundaries.

If you’re under the influence you might give your consent freely to something you’d never consider when you haven’t partaken of anything. Best case scenario it’s a case of type two fun (not fun now but is fun later), like spending the night up a tree because you want to see what being an owl is like. No harm, no foul, and your friends get something to roast you about later.

Worst case scenario you do freely consent to something that can hurt you, like breaking into the zoo to give the lions a cuddle because they’re the goodest and fluffiest babies.

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Enthusiastic is also on our ehhhhh list. You might want to feel enthusiastic about something, but also you might be on day 5 of that 3-day acid bender in the natural history museum and completely knackered. You can do all the right things to look enthusiastic about scaling the T-Rex skeleton when really all you want to do is have a nap cradled in the Megaloceros’ 3m wide antlers. But the T-Rex climbing adventure does look like a lot of fun, so you do it anyway and make enthusiastic noises while sneaking sidelong glances at the antler-nest.

We think a slightly better model for consent is…



The RIS part of CRISP is the same as in FRIES but we’ve swapped the Freely-given and Enthusiastic parts for Considered and Participatory.

Considered means you have had the time to fully assess every aspect of the situation that you’re in as well as what you’re saying Yes to. There can be a lot of external factors around what you’re considering that might affect how you feel, especially if you’re new to taking drugs and are still learning where your boundaries are. The main thing to keep in mind in this is whether or not there are any power imbalances. These can look like:

Someone taking you under their proverbial wing, but making you dependent on them for acceptance in a new community.

Someone having more knowledge than you about substances but not empowering you to make your own decisions about how large a dose you’re taking.

This one is particularly laden with red flags because when it comes to drugs like MDMA, GHB/GBL, alcohol, and methamphetamine (among others), your libido can skyrocket and you can go from 0 to Horny AF when the drugs kick in. Mix that with the disinhibiting factors and things can get very naked very quickly, especially if you take higher doses.

If you’re with someone that you would ordinarily want to get naked with, and they want to get naked with you, awesome! Grab your condoms/dental dams and lube and go have fun. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, take rest breaks, and check in with each other regularly.

If you’re not with someone that you would ordinarily want to get naked with, but they’re offering, maybe take a beat and review the situation.

  • Who is this person? Do you know them?
  • What’s the context? Are you at a gig or a doof? A festival? A PnP party?
  • Where’s your trip-sitter right now? Are they available for a vibe check?
  • If they pass the trip-sitter vibe check and you’re still keen to throw your clothes to the wind, where are your condoms/dental dams and lube?
    • (Pro tip: You can make a dental dam out of a condom by unrolling it and cutting it open down the side so it makes a rectangle. You’re welcome.)

Participatory means you’re involved in the decision-making process around what happens to your body. We know that sounds like a no brainer, but if someone you’re with offers you a substance by saying something like ‘Hey, we’re having XYZ at ABC club, here’s yours’, you haven’t actually had the chance to be involved in that decision. There could have been an option to try something else, or go to another place, but you weren’t invited to participate in the decision-making.

Your only choice from there is to either take it or not take it, and if you do take it, how much of it you want to take. But then, does it actually feel like a choice?


Boundaries are the way to communicate the lines between what you agree to do and what you don’t agree to do within your glorious dictatorship to other people. If you tell someone that something they’ve suggested crosses your boundaries and you’re not willing to do it, they need to suggest something else or drop the conversation.

Decide on your boundaries before you have your substance

Some substances are disinhibitors, as we said earlier. Depending on your substance, you might find yourself up for some Type 2 fun. Again, no harm, no foul, apart from your friends lovingly roasting you until the end of time.

But if you know what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do before you take your substance you’re less likely to think that scaling a T-Rex skeleton with no harness is a great idea.

This is a great idea in general before taking a substance. Ask yourself: what kind of experience do I want to have? What are my must-dos and must-not dos during my trip? When I wake up tomorrow, what elements will make me feel like the trip was a success? Having a plan before going in allows you to check-in with your sober self, make sure things are on track, and avoid eating the regretti spaghetti the next day.

Having a tripsitter makes keeping your boundaries way easier

Having someone with you who hasn’t partaken is always a good idea. Not only can they do things like remind you that gravity is real so maybe don’t climb the T-Rex skeleton, but they can also do things like give you time checks, look after the snacks and drinks, and weigh out more substances if you want to take more.

They’re also great for making any sketchy individuals know they’re not welcome, tucking you into your snug nest when you’re at home coming down, and calling for help if things go wrong.

Manufactured consent is not consent

Like we said earlier, some drugs are disinhibitors, and high doses of those drugs can make all ideas seem like good ones.

What’s manufactured consent?

Manufactured consent is when people are manipulated into giving consent to things they wouldn’t ordinarily do because they’re under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

What does that look like?

Let’s say that you’re going on an adventure with some friends. Your pre-adventure boundary list includes the following:

  • Only taking 1 tab of acid (not three and definitely not 5)
  • Maybe taking some MDMA or some nangs later on if you’re feeling the vibe, but nothing else
  • Not climbing up anything taller than yourself unless it’s in a kid’s playground with the squishy safety flooring
  • No trespassing, which includes abandoned buildings, construction sites, and other people’s gardens
  • If you see anyone from work or church or whatever your non-drug-taking life involves, wave briefly and keep walking
  • Home and in bed by dawn

You tell your tripsitter all of this, and they’ve agreed to hold you to it.

So your tab kicks in and the world gets shiny and you all decide to go for a walk. It’s quite late at night and there’s nobody around except you and your friends. You go past the natural history museum and notice that the lights are on, the doors are open, despite it being past closing time, and that T-Rex skeleton is RIGHT THERE.

You want to climb it. You really want to climb it. You could probably sit on its head and see your house from up there. It would be so damn awesome. But also, your pre-adventure boundary list says no trespassing and no climbing things taller than you.

Your tripsitter reminds you that these are on your list of boundaries, and that while obeying civic law is optional, gravity is a law you absolutely have to obey on pain of breaking your bones and/or dying.

You and your friends look at the skeleton, and look at each other. One of your friends says “I double dare you”. You start to say no, but your friend calls you a chicken and starts making chicken noises at you. So you all take off into the museum as fast as you can run. You make it halfway up the T-Rex’s leg before the cops show up.

Now, breaking into a building and climbing fossils is not something you would do when you’re not under the influence of substances (to the point where it was a boundary on your list). But you still said yes because you’d been double-dared and called a chicken while you were in a very suggestive state. Your consent had been manufactured.

Content warning: This next bit talks about drug-assisted sexual assault and humans being the absolute worst. Heads up :/

Using drugs to manufacture consent to sex is a crime. Stop doing it.

It lowkey feels like every few months the festival community’s whisper network outs yet another predator that’s been using drugs to get people into a state where they’re willing to have sex with them. Or at least where they can’t say no.

The Law

When it comes to the law around consent, it’s pretty clear cut. The Crimes Act 1964 Section 128A4 and 128A5 state that a person can’t give legal consent if they’re under the influence of alcohol or another drug that makes them

  1. Pass out/fall unconscious, or
  2. Puts them in a state where they either can’t consent or can’t refuse to consent

It’s not rocket science. Someone who’s had a high dose of G or another libido-enhancing substance has had their ability to give full, CRISP-type consent removed by the drug. If someone’s passed out, they can’t give consent.

If someone can’t give full CRISP-type consent, don’t try to have sex with them.

They might have been in a cuddle puddle with you or ahead of you in the massage train or grinding up against you on the dance floor. It doesn’t matter what the previous interactions with them have been. NO CRISP YES, NO SEX. END OF.

Predatory behaviour 101

There are a couple of things that you can watch out for if you’re trip-sitting for someone, or even if you’re just out and about in the world. All that evil needs to flourish is for good people to do nothing, so by all means, if you see any of these, call it the hell out.

“Accidentally” giving someone a high dose

All drugs have a ‘common’ dose, which is where someone feels the effects of the drugs to the point where they can’t ignore them, but they can still do normal things like communicate, eat, drink, and so on.

However a person’s ‘common’ dose depends on their body mass. A 50kg human will need a smaller dose than an 80kg human to feel the effects.

Similarly if someone has been taking drugs for a long time they might have built up a tolerance and need a higher dose to feel any kind of effects. Someone that’s new to taking drugs won’t have that tolerance and won’t need the same amount of substance.

Both of these scenarios can push someone into strong/high risk dose territory. Why is this bad?
A strong dose renders its subject mostly incapable of functioning, interacting normally, or thinking in a straightforward manner…

…As subjects are not able to alter the trajectory of their behaviour at strong doses, it is vital that they have prepared their environment and activities in advance as well as taken any precautionary measures.

Psychonaut Wiki

If someone can’t function, they can’t consent. Also for something like G where the difference between a high dose and dangerous dose is a minute amount, there’s a risk of convulsions, vomiting, and unconsciousness. If someone’s ‘accidental’ high dose is too high for the person they’re dosing, they can wind up in hospital.

Pushing boundaries

If someone says ‘that’s a boundary’, or just straight out ‘no’, the only appropriate response is ‘ok, thank you for telling me’ and backing off. However, because people are the worst, what you sometimes see when someone says no is:

Sulking/the silent treatment or guilt tripping
This is all to make the person feel bad about saying no and change their mind. It can look like

  • Saying they’re ok with your No, but then
    • not talking to you after that, or leaving you immediately alone and avoiding you, or
    • behaving like a petulant child
  • Telling you they feel sad/bad/rejected by your No, or
    • They’re feeling down and they’d feel better if you said Yes

You know the Lemme Smash bird that wouldn’t leave his girlfriend alone? With every word out of his beak being LEMME SMASH or U WANT SUM FUK until she gets annoyed and leaves? It’s like that, but in human.

Basically they’re hoping you’ll get worn down and change your mind about your No.

Where they tell you they’ll do something unpleasant if you don’t change your mind. This can be anything from

  • Having sex with someone else to spite you
  • Keeping drugs you might have already paid for or that you may be dependent on unless you have sex with them
  • Hurting you or someone you care about
  • Waiting until you’re asleep and having sex with you anyway (FYI this is rape. Just sayin’)

Isolating people from their friends
This is all kinds of red flags because they’re cutting the person who’s had the substances off from their trip-sitter and their support network.

If you’re trip-sitting for a group and a new person wants to take one of your group off to show them something, the entire group goes, or nobody goes.

This is exactly what it sounds like. If someone’s had too much of something and they’re having a lie down, and someone’s just kinda lurking and watching them instead of helping them into the recovery position and calling a medic, it’s really not a good sign.

In closing

You have the right to say yes to things you want to say yes to. You have the right to say no to say things you want to say no to.

You have a right to have fun with your friends and have new experiences and learn about yourself without the threat of some creep helping themselves to your body.

You have a right to exist without the threat of some creep helping themselves to your body.

You have the right to have said creeps removed from your community, whether it’s your doof mates, your workplace, or your family. Nobody gets to treat you like that.

(Just stay off the T-Rex, ok?)

While we wait for humans to be less garbage so we can all frolic safely, keep an eye out for your friends.
Swap trip-sitting duties with each other (it’s actually quite fun because you can plan adventures and activities for them).

Also, don’t be afraid to question off vibes or strange/predatory behaviour, even if it’s someone with a lot of social status or a close friend. Friends don’t let friends behave like sex offenders.

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