Safe Alcohol Use

Post-secondary students drink more frequently and consume greater quantities of alcohol than their non-student peers. Students drink for a lot of reasons-peer pressure, wanting to have fun, to socialize, to be drunk, being bored or lacking alternatives to drinking, or to make up for times when they could not drink (e.g., exam period). If you choose to drink, for whatever reason, it’s important to know how to stay safe.

What's in A Drink

Many people are surprised to learn what counts as an actual drink. In Canada, a ‘standard’ drink is any drink that contains about 13.6 grams of “pure” alcohol. Once you know what a standard drink is you will know how much alcohol you are actually drinking.

One Drink Equals

  • One regular beer 350ml or 12oz at about 5% alcohol
  • One glass of wine (150ml or 5 oz) at about 12% alcohol
  • One shot of hard liquor or spirits (44ml or 1.5 oz) at about 40% alcohol

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

  • 10 standard drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day, most days
  • 15 standard drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day, most days
  • Plan non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit.
  • These limits will help reduce your long-term health risks from alcohol consumption
Tips for a Night Out

Before Drinking

House in front of blue background text reads before drinking

Eat and drink water before and while drinking alcohol. Try setting a reminder on your phone.

Set a drink limit before you start drinking and stick to it . Try an app to help you keep track of your drinks.

Be aware of how alcohol affects you. Know when you’ve had enough and say so

Arrange a safe ride home before you start drinking.

Try to reduce the number of times you use alcohol each week. Daybreak is another app you can try if you’re looking to cut down or stop drinking.


While drinking

Beer glasses cheersing in front of blue background, text reads while drinking

If you’re playing drinking games, try playing with non-alcoholic drinks.

Top up your own drinks and finish one drink before starting another.

Only get in the car with a sober driver-decide who will be the designated driver before you go out.

Keep your drink with you at all times. If you have any doubts, make or order a new one.

Drink in good company – keep a good friend around.

Keep an eye out for each other – if you see a friend becoming too drunk, make sure they drink water, eat food, and stop drinking alcohol.

Staying Sober

Water bottle and coffee cup on blue background, text reads

Sometimes friends will try to pressure you to drink when you don’t want to. You could use these strategies when telling others why you want to stay sober:

Be the designated driver-your friends will thank you and you will know they got home safely.

Make or order your own non-alcoholic drinks.

Tell people you’re taking medication. Many medications should not be combined with alcohol.

Say you have an a.m. workout. People respect long-term goals and physical challenges.

Tell people you are trying to save money- students understand the financial stress.

Alcohol-Free Activities

Reducing your alcohol consumption or abstaining altogether doesn't mean you have to lock yourself in your room. There are a lot of things to do that don't involve a drop of alcohol.

Thunder Bay


Reducing Alcohol Consumption

Contrary to public opinion, not everyone on campus is drinking. In fact- alcohol consumption is on the decline at Lakehead. It can still be hard to say no in the moment so it’s best to practice what you will say ahead.

Build your drink refusal skills

Raised hand in a circle with line through it


  • Make your intention not to drink known in advance
  • Script and practice your 'no'
  • Ask for support from others to cope with temptation
  • Become a mocktail master
  • Plan an escape if the temptation gets too great


“ I don’t think I’ll be drinking tonight, I’ve decided to take a break for a while”

“Thanks but I've already had my drink for the night and I'm sticking with water from here on. I've got a research paper to complete in the morning and it's already overdue."

Binge Drinking
Binge or heavy drinking, referred to technically as heavy episodic drinking, poses serious health and safety risks. Young adults, particularly post-secondary students, are more susceptible to these risks.
When Drinking Becomes Problematic

Wondering about your own alcohol use? Check out CCSA's Practical Guide to Assessing Your Drinking 

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is when there’s too much alcohol in your blood, and it causes parts of your brain to shut down. It’s also called alcohol overdose. Alcohol is a depressant. That means it can affect your brain and nervous system to slow your breathing, your heart rate, and other important tasks that your body does. Your liver usually does a good job of keeping alcohol's toxins from getting into your bloodstream. But if you drink a lot in a short time, your liver may not be able to keep up.

Alcohol poisoning can lead to brain damage or death. If you’re with someone who might have drunk too much, call 911 right away.


  • Try to keep them awake and sitting up if possible.
  • Keep them warm- Alcohol poisoning will likely make them feel cold.
  • Put them in the recovery position- if they pass out and vomit, they won’t choke
  • Make certain they’re breathing and that their mouth is empty.
  • Stay with the intoxicated person and wake them frequently. If alcohol levels continue to rise, the person may become unconscious.
  • Call an ambulance if they stop breathing or can’t stop throwing up
  • Start CPR if breathing stops or find someone with first aid training to perform CPR immediately.


  • Never let them drink anymore alcohol-The amount of alcohol in their bloodstream could become dangerously high.
  • Don’t give the person a cold shower; the shock of the cold could cause unconsciousness.
  • Don’t give the semi-conscious person food or fluids (not even water) it could cause vomiting, choking or aspiration.
  • Never make them sick. Their gag reflex won’t be working properly which means they could choke on their vomit.
  • Never leave someone to sleep it off. The amount of alcohol in someone’s blood continues to rise even when they’re not drinking.

TBDHU Resources

Thunder Bay

WellU Support and Resources for Quitting Alcohol

WellU Alcohol Reduction Support and Resources For Students


WellU Support and Resources for Quitting Alcohol

WellU Alcohol Reduction Support and Resources For Students

Connex Ontario

Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration

Keep It Social

Drink Smart

Help With Drinking 


According to Health Canada, cannabis refers to the plant Cannabis sativa. Originally from Asia, it is now grown around the world, including in Canada. Allthougth the cannabis plant is used for medical, social or religious purposes, it is most often used because of its effects on the mind.

More speicifcally, cannabis contains many chemical substances, including more than 100 known cannabinoids. Some of these cannabinoids have effects on cell receptors in the brain and body, and can change how those cells behave and communicate with each other.

The most researched cannabinoid is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis, including the high and intoxication. THC has some therapeutic effects but it also has harmful effects.

Cannabis and the Law in Ontario
  • You must be 19 and older to buy, use, possess and grow recreational cannabis. This is the same as the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and alcohol in Ontario.
  • You are able to have a maximum of 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried cannabis (or equivalent) in public at any time. One gram of dried cannabis is equal (equivalent) to:
    • 5 grams of fresh cannabis
    • 15 grams of edible product
    • 70 grams of liquid product
    • 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
    • 1 cannabis plant seed
  • Cannabis edibles are legal in Canada as of October 17, 2019. Edible cannabis products are allowed to have:
    • up to 10 milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in a single package
      • up to 30 milligrams of caffeine, if it is naturally occurring (for example, in chocolate, coffee and tea)
      • Edible cannabis products must contain no nicotine or added alcohol.
Cannabis Use and Driving
  • Driving a vehicle while you’re impaired by cannabis is illegal and dangerous. This includes cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.
  • You are not a safer driver when you’re high. Cannabis affects your judgment, coordination and reaction time, and increases your chances of being in a collision. In 2016, 74 people were killed in collisions involving a driver under the influence of drugs in Ontario according to police reports.
  • Since the effects of cannabis vary, there is no way to know exactly how long to wait before it’s safe to drive. Even if you think the high has worn off, your ability to drive may still be impaired.The best way to avoid impaired driving is to not take a chance. 
  • Police have tools and tests to detect impaired drivers, including roadside drug screening equipment and sobriety tests. If a police officer finds that you are impaired by any drug or alcohol, you will face serious penalties, including:
    • an immediate licence suspension
    • financial penalties
    • possible vehicle impoundment
    • possible criminal record
    • possible jail time
Safer Use Guidelines

To reduce the health risks from using cannabis:

  • avoid smoking cannabis
  • reduce how often you use cannabis
  • delay using cannabis until later in life
  • avoid smoking or vaping cannabis products and consider edible cannabis (which is safer for your lungs than smoking cannabis), but be aware that edibles are not risk-free and that it can take longer to feel the effects of edible cannabis than other forms
  • avoid using edible cannabis from an unauthorized retailer to ensure that products are safe to consume and free of contamination
  • avoid using synthetic cannabis (for example K2 and Spice)
Greening Out: What it is and how you can prevent it?

Greening out is a term used to describe the negative effects one may experience as a result of consuming too much cannabis.

Although everyone will experience a green out differently, it will generally cause individuals to experience all or some of the following side effects including feeling dizzy, nauseous, disoriented, anxious, experiencing mild hallucinations, a loss of balance, decreased mobility, low blood pressure and an increased heart rate.

New or infrequent users are more prone to greening out as they test their tolerance levels. However, all cannabis users have the potential to green out especially if they are sleep deprived, dehydrated or have not eaten.

Greening out often occurs as a result of consuming edibles and concentrates, which contain higher and more potent amounts of cannabis and thereby increases the potency of the experienced effects.

A green out typically lasts a few hours, although it is dependent on the amount of cannabis an individual consumes.

Experiencing a green out is a non-life-threatening condition, but when coupled with alcohol or other substances as it can increase the duration of negative effects and pose significant risks to one’s well-being.

To prevent a green out, it is important to start low and go slow, purchase your product from regulated retailers, do not mix with alcohol or other substances, ensure you are hydrated and have food in your system.

In the event that a green out occurs, it is crucial to stay hydrated, rest, stay with someone you trust, and stay calm as a fatal overdose cannot occur from consuming cannabis by itself.


Ontario Cannabis 

TBDHU Cannabis

10 Ways to Reduce Risks to Your Health When Using Cannabis

Health Effects of Cannabis

Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines


According to Health Canada, vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol produced by a vaping product, such as an electronic cigarette (or "vape"). Unlike traditional cigarette smoking which requires burning, a vaping device heats a liquid into an aerosol (sometimes known as "vapour").

The Dangers of Vaping

Although many individuals think vaping is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, there are a number of risks associated to repeated use.

Truthfully, there is a lack of research on the long-term effects of vaping, however, the short term effects warrant enough reason to not start or continue to vape.

In fact, due to the various harmful effects on its users, the Canadian government has not approved any vaping products as a methods for smoking cessation.

Here are some of the known negative effects of vaping:

  • Development of a physical dependence or addiction very quickly due to it’s high nicotine contents (1 Juul Pod is equivalent to the nicotine content in 20 cigarettes)

  • Subjects you to dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde (used in disinfectants and automobile parts), propylene glycol (used in plastic and antifreeze) and acrolein (used to clean oil wells and algae growth)

  • Impairs brain function by worsening stress, anxiety and depression, poor memory, concentration, self-control and attention

  • Men can experience sexual dysfunction (impotence)

  • Impaired lung function including the development of conditions such as lung disease, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and irreversible damage

  • Poor heart health as it increases your risk of having a heart attack, impairs your blood vessels, and heightens your risk of developing cardiovascular disease

  • Side effects include throat and mouth irritation, headache, shortness of breath, dry mouth, cough and nausea

  • Exposing those around you to negative effects of second-hand smoke

Reasons to Quit

There are many benefits that you will experience from quitting vaping that your body and future self will thank you for.

This is because vaping has the potential to negatively impair many different facets of your past, present and future life. 

How vaping impacts your life:

  • Brain development and function can result in permanent damage in chronic use, which will alter your experience in University and navigation the workforce

  • Athletes are unable to reach their full potential due to lung inflammation which is painful and reduces airflow, making it harder to breath

  • The ability to properly taste and smell have been hindered, which is reducing your ability to fully enjoy your favourite scents and foods

  • Students commonly turn to vaping when they are stressed, however vaping has actually been linked to increasing ones stress levels

  • It is a very expensive habit that impairs your health, save your money and health by quitting

  • Continued use can make you more likely to be dependant on other substances in the future

Today is a good time to make the change, if you quit right now

  • In 20 minutes your heart rate, blood pressure and circulation will start to normalize 

  • In 1 day your risk of experiencing a heart attack will decrease

  • In 2 days your ability to taste and smell will begin to improve

  • In 3 days nicotine will be out of your system 

  • In 1 month your lung capacity will improve and you will be able to breathe clearly

  • In 3 months you blood vessels and circulation will be enhanced

  • In 9 months your lungs will be strong enough to fight off infections

  • In 1 year your heart rate and blood pressure is safely lowered and your heart attack risk has decreased by 50%

  • In 5 years your risk of a stroke is drastically reduced

  • In 10 years the chances of developing lung cancer have reduced by 50%

  • In 15 years your risk of developing heart disease is the same as a non-smoker

  • In 20 years the lasting impact of vaping will no longer impair your body


Looking to quit?

We’re glad you’ve made this decision and hope you can soon reap the benefits of living vape free.

Here are some resources to help you to not start or continue to vape:

Illicit Substances & Overdose Prevention

Illicit substances are drugs that are considered illegal to possess, produce or distribute.

To find information about substances, substance use, stigma, how to get help, and the Canadian drugs and substances strategy check the following Health Canada links:

It is worth mentioning that despite the legality of these drugs, it remains crucial to ensure that those who are using them are doing so safely.

Steps to reduce your risk of an overdose

If you are engaging in drug use, there are various measures you should take to decrease your likelihood of experiencing an overdose:

  • Create a buddy system by using drugs with someone you trust and stagger your use to enable you to alternate taking turns monitoring each other while using to enhance safety.

  • Use drugs at a safe consumption service as they have readily available nurses, as well as  harm reduction and overdose supplies. Find a safe site:

  • In cases where using substance alone is unavoidable, it is essential to establish a safety plan prior to using. This can include using the Lifeguard app or by calling the National Overdose Prevention Line at 1-888-688-6677.

  • Ensure you have a naloxone kit available and know how to administer it. This is important as it can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and will not harm someone who is not experiencing an opioid overdose. Find where you can access free naloxone kits

  • Never mix substances together such as other drugs or alcohol as it can lead to negative effects and increase an individual's risk of experiencing an overdose. 

  • When using drugs it is important to know what you are taking in order to safely use drugs. It is crucial to know the potency and the type of drugs that you are taking. Find where you can get your drugs tested:

Signs of an opioid overdose

It is necessary to recognize the signs of an individual experiencing an overdose to assist them. The following characteristics are indicative of an individual who is experiencing an overdose: 

  • Unable to wake the person up

  • Blue or gray lips or nails

  • Slow, weak or no breathing

  • Struggling to walk or talk

  • Choking, gurgling or snoring sounds

  • Limp body

Overdoses are considered medical emergencies, If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose call 9-1-1 immediately. 

Do not worry about legal repercussions for the individual experiencing an overdose, yourself or others as The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act works to provide legal protection for anyone seeking or receiving help for an individual experiencing an overdose to increase willingness to receive help. Learn more about this Act here.

What to do if you suspect an opioid overdose:
  • Step 1: Shout and shake

      • Shout their name and shake their shoulders

    • Step 2; call 9-1-1

      • If the person is unresponsive, call 9-1-1 immediately

    • Step 3; administer naloxone

      • Spray into the person's nostril

    • Step 4; start CPR

      • Do chest compressions and or rescue breathing

    • Step 5; assess if it is working

      • If no improvement in 2-3 minutes, repeat steps 3 and 4


If you suspect a person is experiencing an overdose or unintended poisining: call 9-1-1

If you are looking for help with substance use do not hesitate to reach out to one or more of the following supports:

National Overdose Response Service (NORS)
Overdose prevention hotline that offers confidential, non-judgemental and 24/7 support 

1-866-531-2600, or txt "CONNEX" to 247247
Free 24/7 access to mental health and addictions services information.

Breaking Free Online
Free and confidential wellness and recovery supports for alcohol and drug use.

Health Connect Ontario
Free and confidential health advice and support 24/7 from registered nurses who can help with any topics involving addiction concerns or health service information.