Substance Use and COVID-19

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Check in with yourself.

Substance use is a coping mechanism that you may find yourself relying on during the COVID crisis. Substance use includes alcohol and drugs (illegal, prescription), cigarettes, inhalants or solvents. If you are increasing your substance use during this time, check in with yourself and see how you are feeling and how this coping mechanism is affecting your behaviour and impacting your life. It is important to recognize that substance use can lead to addiction.

If you have increased your substance use during this time, here are some tips to check in with yourself:

  • Before using drugs or drinking ask yourself: “How will this make me feel right now? How will I feel tomorrow? Am I comfortable with these answers?”
  • Has your spending on substances increased, and how do you feel about that?
  • How is your physical health doing? Has substance use impacted your quality of sleep, energy levels, performance during workouts?
  • Check out the online tool that helps you assess consumption and spending habits - checkyourself.ca.

If you choose to use substances, here are some harm reduction tips:

  • Consider other healthy things that might promote balance and replace substance use - reading, going for a walk, gardening, cooking, other hobbies or activities.
  • Eat before drinking and drink slowly.
  • Measure your alcohol, set limits as to the number of drinks you are having, and plan to stop drinking at a certain time.
  • If you or someone you know are using opiates, visit your pharmacy for a free Naloxone kit. This can save a life in case of accidental overdose.
  • Access a safe injection site and Edmonton’s clean needle exchange program if needed.
  • Be kind and gentle with yourself and know that there are resources available to help.
  • Know the facts about substance use. Check out the NCHA data around substance use and university students here.

If you are concerned about your substance use or that of someone you know, here are some resources that you might find helpful:

University of Alberta

  • ACCESS Open Minds and ACCESS Outreach Social Workers are available to meet with you virtually, or over the phone. The ACCESS social workers can help connect you with resources and services that will support you during this time. Email accessom@ualberta.ca or doshelp@ualberta.ca to ask to speak to a social worker.
  • Counseling and Clinical Services is offering virtual single-session counseling sessions. Call 780-492-5205 to request services.
  • The Peer Support Centre is offering virtual supportive listening sessions with their volunteers. Request an appointment online here: https://www.su.ualberta.ca/services/psc/

Off Campus

  • AHS Addiction Services- Free one-on-one addiction counseling, group counseling, referrals to rehab facilities: 780-427-2736; 10010 102A Ave NW
  • Alcoholics Anonymous - Edmonton-based & online 12-step groups
  • Narcotics Anonymous - Edmonton-based & online 12-step groups
  • SMART Recovery - Edmonton-based & online addiction-recovery groups
  • ACCESS Open Minds downtown - Free addiction counseling and peer support
  • Call 211 to learn about more resources in your area.

Supports for people with family/friends with addictions

If you’re worried about someone else’s substance use, it’s important to get support for yourself first. Check out one of these programs for supporters of people with addictions, or call 211 to ask about other options.

  •  Al-Anon – A 12-step program for supporters of people who abuse alcohol.
  • Alberta Health Services Addiction Services - Offers a support group for family members of people with addictions. Facilitated by addiction counselors. Must speak to an addiction counselor for referral. Contact 780-427-2736.
  • Nar-Anon- A 12-step program for supporters of people who abuse drugs.

Helpful Education tools