Enhancing your health in so many ways.

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Alcohol and Other Drugs


If you don't drink, don't start.  If you choose to drink, lower your risk .

Drinking alcohol can affect your health and wellbeing.

Alcohol is a drug that is used often in social settings.  Like other drugs, alcohol can change the way we think, feel and act.  The more you drink on average per week, or on a single occasion, the greater your risk.

Alcohol use has been linked to over 200 chronic diseases such as:

=         various cancers

=         heart disease

=         chronic pancreatitis

=         hypertension

=         liver damage

=         fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

=         mental health issues, etc.

More information:  World Health Organization


As little as 1 drink a day can increase your risk for cancer.

Alcohol is known to cause cancer.  Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed; even the smallest amounts increase risk for some cancers.

Consuming alcohol and tobacco together increases risk of developing cancer by up to 300 times compared to drinkers who do not smoke and smokers who do not drink.

When it comes to cancer risk, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. 

 More information: Canadian Cancer Society


Alcohol is linked to injuries, early death and social problems.

Alcohol use has been linked serious injuries and early death due to:

=         motor vehicle collisions

=         alcohol poisoning

=         falls

=         drowning

=         homicides

=         suicides

=         fires


 Heavy alcohol use is related to a number of social problems including:

=         violent crime

=         unintended pregnancies

=         the spread of sexually transmitted infections

=         sexual assault

=         child neglect/abuse

=         intimate partner abuse

=         unemployment

=          failed relationships

=          homelessness



Harms from alcohol outweigh benefits.

Alcohol may provide some health benefits for your heart but this continues to be debated. If benefits do exist, they are mainly seen in people over 45 years of age. In most cases, one drink of alcohol every other day is enough to achieve these benefits. Amounts greater than this pose more risks and cancel out all the benefits. If your goal is to improve your health, instead of drinking alcohol you are better off to follow a healthy diet, get more exercise, and be a non-smoker.


If you choose to drink:

1.  Know what a standard drink is and measure before you pour so you know how many drinks you have had.



2.     Follow Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.


(Embed Video “Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines” www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbpdMFE-AIE)



Remember that these guidelines lower your risks but drinking alcohol in any amount carries some risk.


3.      Keep track of how much you drink – per day and per week.

4.      Drink slowly. For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.



Do not drink when you are:

=         Pregnant or planning to be pregnant

=         Driving a vehicle or using machinery and tools

=         Taking medication or other drugs that interact with alcohol

=         Doing any kind of dangerous physical activity

=         Living with mental or physical health problems

=         Living with alcohol dependence

=         Responsible for the safety of others

=         Making important decisions



Hosting a party or event?

If you are hosting a party where alcohol will be served, you are responsible for your guests’ safety until they are sober. 

To help reduce your risk:

=         Do not mix physical activity with alcohol. People are more likely to injure themselves while drinking.

=         Provide alcohol-free and low-alcohol drink options for your guests. Try some of these delicious mocktail recipes.

=         Provide snacks for your guests – the healthier the better and avoid salty and sweet options.

=         Be ready to host overnight guests.

=         Make yourself or a friend the ‘bartender’ for the night rather than having an open bar. You will be able to better monitor how much alcohol your guests are drinking. 

=         Pre-plan what you will do to look after guests who drink too much.

=         Do not let your guests drink and drive. Have designated drivers, spare cash and taxi company phone numbers available. Take keys away from anyone who you feel will drink and drive.

=         Limit your alcohol intake so that you can monitor the party and make decisions with a clear mind.

More information: CAMH – Having a Party?

Deflate the Elephant

Best Start Mocktails for Mom


Smart Serve Responsible Alcohol Beverage Service Training Program is approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) as a server training program for the Ontario hospitality industry.  By law, all managers and servers must be Smart Serve certified.  You can take the online course here, or contact Northern College (705-567-9291 ext. 3264) or training@northern.on.ca)  for their next in class date. 




 Fuelled by alcohol, some customers in bars resort to threats, fights, mischief, vandalism, property damage and driving. Safer Bars includes a 3-hour training for bar staff to manage aggressive customers, keeping everyone safer. Learn more here. 



Local alcohol policies can promote a culture of moderation, support community values, raise awareness of harms, influence social norms and promote a healthier community.  A Municipal Alcohol Policy (MAP) aligns with liquor laws and outlines the appropriate use of alcohol on municipally owned and managed places and spaces.  For resources on how to develop your MAP, check out the CAMH guide or Public Health Ontario’s Steps for developing a MAP



Other Drugs


If you use drugs, reduce the harms .


Using any drug can affect your health and wellbeing.



Harms related to cannabis depend upon the amount that is used, how often it is used and the method. 


These can include:

=         Risk of addiction

=         Decreased motivation

=         Impaired memory

=         Decreased attention span

=         Difficulty processing complex information

=         Motor vehicle crashes

=         Increased risk for  chronic bronchitis and emphysema

=         Increased risk of heart disease and stroke

=         Possible increased risk of mental illness (e.g., anxiety, psychosis, and/or schizophrenia), etc.


The medicinal benefits of cannabis continue to be debated and more research is needed in this area.  Cannabis has been prescribed to:

=         Treat nausea

=         Increase appetite

=         Decrease associated symptoms of glaucoma

=         Reduce chronic pain

=         Reduce inflammation

=         Treat epileptic seizures


More information:

Centre for Addictions and Mental Health



Driving High is Driving Impaired.

After alcohol, cannabis is the most common drug found in dead and injured drivers.   


Driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal.  Cannabis affects how well you understand distance, pay attention, concentrate and react. If you are suspected of driving while impaired by cannabis, you can be charged in the same way you would with alcohol.


Test your knowledge with the Cannabis Quiz



Opioids can be dangerous if not used as prescribed.

Opioids are classed as a depressant. This means that they slow down the part of the brain that controls breathing and heart rate.  Opioids are mainly used for their sedative effects and to manage pain.  Other medical uses include control of coughs and diarrhea, and the treatment of addiction to other opioids. 

All opioids are dangerous when taken in large amounts or when taken with other depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. 

Opioids can produce a mellow relaxed “high,” making them prone to abuse and addictionSome people inject opioids to increase the intensity of the “high”.  

Using dirty needles and sharing needles carries a high risk of infection and disease (e.g., HIV, hepatitis).  When tablets or capsules are dissolved for injection, non-drug substances contained in these products can permanently damage veins and organs.

More information: Centre for Addictions and Mental Health


Fentanyl is a very powerful opioid that is very cheap to produce.  It is increasingly being used in other drugs such as heroin and cocaine to increase the potency of these drugs and has been pressed into tablet form to imitate oxycontin.  The user has no way to tell whether fentanyl has been added, how much, or what their reaction might be.


Prevent Accidental Poisoning

Prescription and over-the-counter medications are the third most commonly abused and misused substances behind only alcohol and marijuana.  In 2015, approximately 12% of teens abused prescription drugs with the majority of these teens obtaining the drugs from home. 

When taken improperly or abused, prescription medications are no safer than illegal drugs.   In fact, many dangerous and unpredictable effects are associated with abusing prescription drugs including addiction, overdose and death.  

In order to minimize the misuse and abuse of medication, it is recommended that prescription and over-the counter medications be taken according to the directions provided by a health care provider and only for the reasons the medications were intended. 

Some commonly misused medications include opioids, benzodiazepines, and amphetamines but there are others.  More information: Prescription and Over the Counter Drug Guide

When the wrong amount of medication is taken, or taken by someone it is not intended for, poisoning can result.  Even a small amount of adult medication taken by a child can be fatal.  Prescription and over-the-counter medications are involved in two-thirds of unintentional poisonings in children under 18 years of age.

To prevent accidental poisoning, all medications should be kept in a safe, secure location out of the reach of children.   Any unused or outdated medication should be discarded by returning them to a pharmacist for proper disposal.  For information on the Medications Return Program, please visit www.healthsteward.ca/sites/default/files/OMRPbrochure.pdf

To learn more about  drugs, please visit www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/healthy-living-vie-saine/substance-abuse-toxicomanie/controlled-drugs-substances-controlees/index-eng.php