Oct. 27, 2022
Tips for safer partying: using alcohol and other substances
Planning ahead is key to having a comfortable and safe night out. It is easier to plan than to make decisions on the spot. Decide with friends on how you will get home before you go out (e.g., book an Uber or Taxi or arrange a designated driver who will not be drinking or using substances). If you don’t feel comfortable anymore for any reason, you will also have a quick way to leave.
Be with people you trust
If you plan on drinking alcohol or using substances, avoid taking them alone. If possible, try to be with someone or a group of people you trust. If you do find yourself alone, Alberta’s free Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app can summon emergency services to your location if you become unconscious. The DORS app also provides information on addiction recovery support services and helplines.
Have a meal before you consume any substances, and don’t forget to snack throughout the night! Go slow and set limits on how much you plan on drinking or consuming in advance. For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink such as water or pop. For other substances, start with a small test dose and take your time in case the substance is not what you expected.
Serve non-alcoholic options
If you are hosting a party or event, ensure guests have non-alcoholic drinks and snack options available for them to use throughout the night. Serve all beverages in the same containers as alcoholic drinks so it’s not obvious who is drinking or not. This can help decrease social pressure to use alcohol. Refrain from asking why someone is not using (or using) substances. Be aware of your own comments (e.g., jokingly making fun of a friend for not drinking) and how they may impact others.
Don’t accept drinks from strangers
Avoid accepting drinks or substances in public spaces from those you don’t know. Always keep your drink or substances with you and replace them if left unattended. This can help prevent consuming drinks spiked with unwanted substances.
Don’t mix substances
Be cautious if you are mixing substances, as it can increase the risk of overdose and other negative side effects. If you plan on mixing, look into potential substance and medication interactions beforehand. Be aware of the signs of overdose; symptoms can include difficulty breathing or not breathing at all, choking or vomiting, loss of consciousness, and skin colour or temperature changes.
If you see a suspected opioid overdose on campus, call 9-1-1 and then Campus Security at 403-220-5333. They are trained to respond to situations like this and can administer naloxone. Naloxone is a safe antidote that can reverse the effects of opioids during an overdose. Kits and trainings are available at almost all pharmacies in Alberta, and available from Student Wellness Services, where you’ll be trained to recognize and respond to an overdose, and administer naloxone. Call 403-210-9355 to book a training appointment with a registered nurse.
If you’re trained to administer naloxone, and have your kit handy, you can administer naloxone to the person you suspect is having an overdose. Naloxone will not harm them if it turns out they didn’t use opioids. First, call 9-1-1 and then Campus Security, then administer naloxone.
Drug test strips are available at Student Wellness Services, Varsity Pharmacy and Residence Services, with no questions asked! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
On campus resources
- Student Wellness Services has online resources and supports.
- The Student Wellness Services’ Harm Reduction Support Advisor has support available for current UCalgary students.
- Staff and faculty can access support through Staff Wellness.
- UCalgary Recovery Community is a peer-driven, inclusive space committed to supporting recovery for students, faculty, and staff, aiming to build community, and reduce stigma on campus. @ucalgary_wedorecover.
- Wellness Together Canada: Mental health and substance use website to support people across Canada and Canadians living abroad at no cost.
- Togetherall Virtual Mental Health Support: Mental health and substance use support available to Albertans at no cost.
- Alberta Addiction Helpline: 1-866-332-2322
- Self-help programs and groups like AA or Smart Recovery
- Supervised Consumption Site in the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre
- Social media harm reduction initiatives like the student run @theliamprojectyyc
- Alberta Health Services DrugSafe https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/Page12491.aspx