Alcohol, cannabis, and nicotine


Many substances can alter someone’s mental, emotional, or physical state; these include, but are not limited to, 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.

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.



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, decriminalized, and illegal.

  • Legal substances
    Alcohol, cannabis, caffeine, 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.
  • Decriminalized substances 
    Opioids (such as heroin, morphine, and fentanyl), crack and powder cocaine, methamphetamine (meth), and MDMA (ecstasy), are decriminalized for personal use in non-public settings (up to a combined total of 2.5 grams) for individuals aged 18 and older in British Columbia. Learn more about BC’s decriminalization exemption and how it affects you.
  • 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 Inclusive Event Planning Canvas course, and request a workshop on Safer Party Planning.
  • 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 (read 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 on 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

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

If you are curious about seeking help, consider the following questions:

  • How do you feel about the amount you drink and/or use, the amount of time you spend drinking and/or using, and the frequency in which you drink and/or use?
  • Has anyone raised concerns about your drinking and/or substance use?
  • Has alcohol and/or other drug use been affecting your grades, learning, or finances?
  • Has alcohol and/or other drug use affected your ability to attend classes or labs, complete coursework, or participate in group meetings?
  • Has alcohol and/or other drug use affected your relationships or responsibilities with friends, family, or partner(s)?
  • Do you feel guilty about your drinking and/or substance use?
  • Have you tried and been unsuccessful in cutting down on your use of alcohol and/or other drugs?
  • Do you find yourself drinking alcohol and/or using substances at inappropriate times?
  • Do you drink and/or use substances in secret?
  • Does your drinking and/or substance use ever scare you?
  • Do you wish to change your relationship with alcohol and/or other substances?

If you wish to continue reflecting on your relationship with substances, you can find support options and more resources below.

Apps and interactive resources

The following 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 opioid drug poisoning, naloxone, and other harm reduction strategies. You can also find out 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 learn about 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 strips, peer support group sessions, and workshops on mental health and harm reduction.

Professional help

If you think a health or mental health professional could help, here are some services available to you:

  • 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.

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 concern.
  • Here2Talk
    Call, chat online, or use the mobile app to get free, immediate, 24/7 mental health counselling, available in various languages for post-secondary students in British Columbia. UBC students can reach out as often as needed, anytime, from anywhere in the world.
  • 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline
    A safe space to talk, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Call or text 9-8-8.