Alcohol, cannabis, and nicotine

Overview

A drug is any substance that causes a change in someone’s mental, emotional, or physical state. This includes alcohol, cannabis, nicotine (found in tobacco and some vaping products), and caffeine.

All substance use carries some risk, making it important to consider its short-term and long-term effects on your wellbeing as a student. 

While not using substances altogether has the lowest risk, if you are using alcohol or other drugs, you can make a plan to reduce possible harms.

Alcohol

Cannabis

Vaping, smoking, and nicotine

Policies in Canada and at UBC

Part of making informed choices about substance use is knowing the laws and policies in Canada, British Columbia, and at UBC. It’s your responsibility to be aware of these laws, including knowing which drugs are legal and illegal.

  • Legal substances
    Alcohol, cannabis, and nicotine can all be legally purchased and consumed in British Columbia by individuals aged 19 or older. Learn about the health effects of alcohol, cannabis, and vaping.
  • Event planning
    Students organizing an event with liquor must review the UBC policy on serving alcohol on campus. If you want to learn more about designing safer events with a harm reduction approach, you can complete the Canvas course on Inclusive Event Planning, and request a workshop and/or consultation with the Wellness Centre and Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO).
  • Rules in residence
    In UBC residences, there are rules on alcohol, smoking, and cannabis possession, which you can read in your residence contract.
  • Sexual assault and substances
    At UBC, we have a Sexual Misconduct Policy. Voluntary consent must be obtained by the person initiating any action and does not exist if someone is incapacitated due to ingestion of drugs or alcohol (see sections 4.1.5., 4.1.6., and 4.1.7).
  • UBC Vancouver Student Substance Use Plan
    At UBC, there are many groups working to provide education, harm reduction, and substance use health. These groups meet regularly through the Substance Use Education Community of Practice at UBC Vancouver, and work to enact the Student Substance Use Plan. To connect with someone about this group and plan, email wellness.centre@ubc.ca.

The intentional use of substances to facilitate sexual assault

Using drugs, including alcohol, to deliberately create a situation in which a person is incapacitated (and therefore cannot give consent) in order to pursue sexual contact or attention is substance-facilitated sexual assault.

Find out what to do if you think someone may have done this to you, if you're trying to help others who may have experienced or could experience this, or if you think you or someone you know may have caused someone harm.

Learn more

When to seek help

You may want to seek help if alcohol or other drug use is impacting your day-to-day life and success as a student.

Consider the following questions:

  • Has alcohol or other drug use been affecting your grades, learning, or finances?
  • Has alcohol or other drug use affected your ability to attend classes or labs, complete coursework, or participate in group meetings?
  • Has alcohol or other drug use affected your relationships or responsibilities with friends, family, or partner(s)?
  • Do you feel guilty about your substance use?
  • Have you tried and been unsuccessful in cutting down on your use of alcohol and/or other drugs?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to further reflect on your relationship with substances. You can find support options and other resources below.

Apps and interactive resources

These websites and apps have been carefully chosen by health professionals at UBC. They’re easy and accessible tools you can use at any time, to help you learn more about substance use.

  • HealthLink BC
    Call 811 at any time during the day to get information on substance use and support. 
  • Here to Help
    Download a workbook to help you reflect on your substance use.
  • Toward the Heart
    Get more information about the opioid overdose crisis, fentanyl, and naloxone, including where to pick up a naloxone kit across BC.
  • Foundry
    Find alcohol and substance use self-check tools and learn about different types of substances.
  • TAO Self-Help
    Sign up with your UBC student email for tools to help you reflect on your substance use.

Peer support

It might be easier to talk with a trained student about substance use. They may understand what you’re going through and can offer helpful resources.

  • UBC Student Recovery Community
    The UBC Student Recovery Community (SRC) is a safe, welcoming, and inclusive space for students who are in recovery, or curious to explore their relationship with alcohol, drugs, and/or addictive behaviours. 
  • AMS Peer Support
    Get free, confidential one-on-one peer support, Naloxone training for individuals and groups, fentanyl test strip distribution, peer support group sessions, and workshops on mental health and harm reduction.

Professional help

If your substance use is persistent and negatively impacting your life, you can also contact a health professional.

  • Access and Assessment Centre
    Call or visit in person for emergency or non-emergency mental health and substance use services.
  • UBC Counselling Services
    If you’re struggling with substance use to the point that it’s affecting your daily life, it may be helpful to speak with a Wellness Advisor about your concerns.
  • UBC Student Health Service
    Book a medical appointment for your substance use concerns or to learn more about preventing an opioid overdose. 

24/7 services

  • Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service
    Call for free, confidential information, or receive a referral to education, prevention, and treatment services for any type of substance use concerns.
  • UBC Student Assistance Program by Aspiria
    Receive free, 24/7 personal counselling and life coaching, accessible anywhere in the world through phone, video-counselling, or e-counselling.
  • Wellness Together Canada
    If you're a Canadian student, complete a free mental health online assessment and connect to online wellness resources. You can also get counselling by phone, text, or video.