Party Safe

Drug and alcohol overdoses are preventable. If you are partying, follow these tips to keep yourself and your friends safe and healthy: 

Pace yourself Drink water One drug at a time

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1.  Stay with friends you trust Friends emoticon 

Stay with friends you trust, tell each other what you are taking, keep an eye on each other’s drinks and ask for help when you need it. If possible, have one sober friend who can look after you.

2. Pace yourself – start low and go slow 


Alcohol Beer emoji

The effects of alcohol can be felt within minutes to 2 hours. Many things effect how quickly you feel the effects of alcohol and how long they last: sex, age, weight, the amount you drink, what you drink, how long you drink, how quickly you drink and whether or not you ate food before you started. Know your limit and keep track of how many servings of alcohol you’ve had.

Cannabis Cannabis leaf

It takes seconds to minutes to feel the effects of smoking or vaping cannabis and 30 minutes to 2 hours to feel the effects of edibles. Start with a small amount and wait at least 30 minutes to feel the full effects. Consider using products with low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and some CBD (cannabidiol).

OpioidsPill emoji

Fentanyl is an opioid that is much more toxic than most other opioids. Anything can be cut with fentanyl, even MDMA (ecstasy). You can’t see it, taste it, or smell it. This makes the risk of overdose much higher. There isn’t a good way to test your batch at home. Instead, only use a small amount at a time and pace yourself.


MDMA Pill emoji

The effects of MDMA (ecstasy) are usually felt within an hour and can last up to 4 to 6 hours. Only use a small amount at a time and pace yourself.  MDMA effects your body’s ability to control its temperature, which can lead to dehydration and other serious health risks. To minimize the risks, take breaks from dancing and drink water. After the initial effects have worn off, you may feel after-effects, like confusion, irritability, sleep problems or mental health problems (anxiety, depression, paranoia) that can last days or weeks.

3. Drink waterWater drop

Drinking alcohol and taking drugs can cause you to become dehydrated. Drink water before and during the party to pace yourself and keep hydrated.

4. Stick to one drug at a time Wine emoji

Using more than one drug at a time, whether its alcohol, cannabis or other drugs, can increase impairment. This leads to unpredictable changes to how you think, feel and act. If you are drinking, don’t mix your drink with a caffeinated beverage.

5. Know what you are taking Thinking emojis

Only accept drinks and food directly from a bartender or server. When accepting or buying drugs, ask what it is before you take it, but be aware that there is no way to know for sure.

6. Go easy on your lungs Lung emoji

Drinking and partying can be a trigger to smoke cigarettes, cannabis or poppers (cannabis and tobacco). Both tobacco and cannabis smoke have harmful chemicals. Tobacco is harmful to your health and contains nicotine that is highly addictive. Using tobacco and cannabis together can make it hard to cut down or quit. If you are planning to use cannabis, leave tobacco out of your mix. Avoid social smoking.

7. Plan a safe ride home Bus Emoji

Alcohol, cannabis and other drugs impair your ability to drive. Plan a safe ride home before you go. Ask a sober friend, use OC Transpo, Uber, Lyft or a taxi. Walking, cycling or skateboarding while you are high or drunk is not a good idea.

8.  Know how to ID an OD 

Alcohol Poisoning Vomiting emoji

Drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short time can lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is considered a drug overdose. Don’t let yourself or your friends sleep it off. If you see these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately:

  • Blue, cold, clammy skin
  • Vomiting and not waking up
  • Not moving, cannot be woken up
  • Slowed breathing
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control

Opioid Overdose scared emoji

If you see these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately:

  • Irregular breathing or not breathing at all
  • Not moving, cannot be woken up
  • Bluish lips and nails
  • Small pupils
  • Making choking or snoring sounds
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Confusion
  • Unable to walk or loss of balance
  • Vomiting
  • Seizing

Greening Out Vomiting emoji

While less common, it is possible to overdose on cannabis, called greening out.

You could experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Anxiety, panic attacks or you may see and hear things that aren’t really there

If you have had too much or you are not enjoying your experience, try to keep calm until the effects wear off. Use with friends you trust, find a quiet safe space you feel comfortable in, stay with a friend, drink water and have something to eat. Remember to call for help when you or the people you are with need it

9. Carry Naloxone First aid emoji 

Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. You can get a FREE Naloxone Kit and training on how to use it from your local pharmacy and other places in Ottawa.

10. You can only give consent for yourself Thumbs up emoji

Consent is all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting other’s boundaries. You can only give consent for yourself.

There is nothing wrong with saying no to sex, drugs or alcohol. Work on learning to say ‘no’ with confidence. Here are a few strategies that might help:

  • Avoid getting pressured by giving advance notice to your partner or friends that you don’t want to engage in certain activities
  • Understand yourself and feel confident explaining your decision
  • Never feel obligated to have sex or use drugs,

Consent cannot be given by someone who is intoxicated, unconscious, or cannot give their consent for any other reason. Consent can’t be given if it is a result of someone threatening you, themselves or others.

Need to talk? Ottawa Public Health offers free, non-judgmental care and support and sexual health screening to everybody. When you are ready, come visit us.

11. Choose safer sex options happy face emoji

If you're having sex, using condoms and/or oral dams are the only forms of protection that can help stop the transmission of Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBIs).

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are at record high levels in Ottawa. You can order free condoms from and get tested at our clinic.

12. Ask for help when you need it speech bubble emoji

If you see anything suspicious, anything that makes you uncomfortable, or if you think someone needs help right away, speak up! Tell a friend, bartender, security staff or call 9-1-1. Emergency workers are there to help, not to judge.

If you suspect someone is overdosing and needs help, don’t be afraid to call 9-1-1. Under the The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, you can't be charged for simple possession of illegal drugs, or for pre-trial release, probation orders, conditional sentencing or parole violations related to simple possession when calling for help in an overdose. This exemption applies to you or anyone you are calling for. 

Need help?

If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, there are places you can turn to for help with drugs or mental health problems.:



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