Party Safe

Festivals are the time for making memories and Ottawa Public Health wants to help you party safer. If you are consuming drugs or alcohol, or a combination of both, overdoses can happen. At large events like festivals, there is also an increased risk of violence and alcohol and drug-facilitated sexual assaults.

#PartySafeHaveFun while celebrating throughout the summer festival season.

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. Stay with at least one trusted friend who is not drinking and who is not under the influence of a substance. Keep an eye out for trouble. Pay attention to things like:

  • someone who is alone and being followed;
  • catcalling;
  • something being added to a drink;
  • unwanted touching or;
  • physical violence

You can make a difference! Never ignore the situation. If you need to express a limit or boundary for yourself or others, choose to stay safe over trying to be nice. 

Try strategies like causing a distraction if a situation feels uncomfortable, offering an exit plan for a friend from an escalating situation, and alerting security or a staff member if you have concerns to help keep you safe. 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.

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.

Drink water

Being out in the sun, dancing, eating salty or sugary foods, drinking alcohol and taking drugs can all cause you to become dehydrated. Drink water before and during the party to pace yourself and keep hydrated.

Plan a safe ride home 

Alcohol, cannabis and other drugs impair your ability to drive. Plan a safe ride home before you go.

  • Ask a trusted friend with a vehicle who has not been drinking and who is not under the influence of a substance. 
  • Plan a ride with OC Transpo,
  • Use a service like Uber, Lyft or a taxi.

Walking, cycling or skateboarding while you are under the influence from any substance can make you unpredictable to others on the road or sidewalk. This can put you and others at risk for collisions or injuries. If you do need to walk, make sure you stay as visible as possible to other road users, and stay with at least one trusted friend who is not under the influence of a substance.

Pace yourself- start low and go slow... and know how to ID and OD

Not everyone uses alcohol or drugs to enjoy festivals. It's ok to say "no" or express a limit if you feel uncomfortable. If you choose to use, please keep in mind how different substances can affect you:

Note: 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. 

 Alcohol
 

The effects of alcohol can be felt within minutes to 2 hours.

Many things can affect 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. Only accept drinks and food directly from a bartender or server. 

Drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short time or binge drinking 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

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 any caffeinated beverage or product.

Cannabis 
 

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).

 

While less common, it is possible to overdose on cannabis, which is 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. 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.

 

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 any caffeinated beverage or product.

Opioids 

Fentanyl and carfentanil are opioids that are much more toxic than most other opioids. Anything can be cut with fentanyl or carfentanil, 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.

 

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. There has been an increase of drugs, including party drugs, being cut with fentanyl or carfentanil.  

 

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

Carry Naloxone. 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.

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 any caffeinated beverage or product.

MDMA 
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.

 

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

Carry Naloxone. 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.

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. There has been an increase of drugs, including party drugs, being cut with fentanyl or carfentanil. 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 any caffeinated beverage or product.

 Go easy on your lungs 

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.

Choose safer sex options

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 SexItSmart.ca and get tested at our clinic.

 

Learn more about preventing overdoses at StopOverdoseOttawa.ca

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