Safe Drinking

Standard drink sizes:

1 bottle of beer (5%) (12 oz)

1 glass of wine (12%) (5 oz)

1 shot (40%) (1.5 oz)



Tips to safely consume alcohol

  • Set a personal limit before you go out (everyone’s alcohol limit is different, and depends on age, body weight, and health)

  • Drink in a safe environment where there is no pressure to drink more than you want to

  • Drink slowly—no more than 2 drinks every 3 hours

  • Eat and drink something non-alcoholic between each alcoholic drink (1)


Tips to reduce risks of drinking

  • Go out with a friend and watch out for each other, guide each other home, and keep each other awake

  • Carry condoms with you so there is a lower chance you will have unprotected sex

  • Be well-rested—sleep deprivation leads to a faster black-out (2)

Do not mix drinking alcohol with:

  • Driving or high-risk physical activity

  • Most medicine (check resource below), drugs, and energy drinks

  • Pregnancy

  • Being responsible for others’ safety

  • Making important decisions (1)

Mixing alcohol with marijuana:

  • Can speed up nausea or vomiting

  • Can result in feelings of anxiety, paranoia, or panic

  • Can increase the effects of marijuana, including sickness that follows use (3)


Dealing with addiction

  • If you are trying to reduce your alcohol intake and are a heavy and frequent drinker, you will need to wane off it slowly

  • Buying less = drinking less

  • Eat a meal before you start drinking

  • Plan 2 alcohol-free days each week (2)


Signs of alcohol poisoning

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of consciousness (fully or semi-unconscious state), or confusion

  • Slow breathing (8 or fewer breaths per minute; pauses between breaths for more than 8 seconds)

  • Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin

  • Irregular pulse

  • Seizures (4-6)


How can you help a friend with alcohol poisoning?


  • Contact EFRT (or 911 if off-campus)

  • If they are unconscious, lay the person on their side with their arms above their head (prevent choking)

  • If they are awake, try to keep them awake, and let them know what you’re doing (e.g. touching them, moving them) to avoid aggression

  • Try to get them to slowly drink water

  • Keep them warm (4-6)

Do not:

  • Do not leave them alone
  • Give them coffee or caffeine (promotes dehydration)

  • Let them eat (could cause choking)

  • Give them medication

  • Force them to vomit (could cause choking)

  • Encourage walking (could lead to accidents and injuries)

  • Let them “sleep it off” (symptoms will likely worsen)

  • Let them drink more alcohol (4-6)

Other resources:

A list of drugs that have negative effects when mixed with alcohol, and what those effects are


Harm Reduction Cheat Sheet

Tips on safe drinking and risk reduction, as well as dealing with addictions and finding effective ways to drink less


Womankind Addiction Service - St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

Addiction support and 24/7 crisis/support phone line


Men’s Addiction Service Hamilton (MASH) - St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton

Addiction support and 24/7 crisis/support phone line





  1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health [Internet]. Canada: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; 2012. Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines; 2012 [cited 2017 Oct 18]. Available from: http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/a_z_mental_health_and_addiction_information/alcohol/Pages/low_risk_drinking_guidelines.aspx

  2. HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol [Internet]. New York NY: HAMS Harm Reduction Network; 2015. Alcohol harm reduction cheat sheet; 2015 [cited 2017 Oct 18]. Available from: http://hams.cc/hr/

  3. Learn About Marijuana [Internet]. Seattle WA: University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute; 2013. Alcohol and marijuana; 2013 [cited 2017 Oct 18]. Available from: http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/factsheets/alcohol.htm

  4. HelpGuide [Internet]. California: Helpguide.org; [date unknown]. Teenage drinking; [cited 2017 Oct 18]. Available from: https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/the-dangers-of-teenage-drinking.htm

  5. College Drinking [Internet]. United States: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; [date unknown]. Facts about alcohol overdose; [cited 2017 Oct 18]. Available from: https://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/parentsandstudents/students/factsheets/factsaboutalcoholpoisoning.aspx

  6. American Addiction Centres [Internet]. Brentwood TN: American Addiction Centres; 2017. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning; 2017 [cited 2017 Oct 18]. Available from: https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/overdose/

Contact Details

Adrianna Michell
905.525.9140 ext. 22041

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