People from all walks of life use drugs, both regulated drugs such as alcohol, cannabis and caffeine, and unregulated drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines.

Alcohol and cannabis are the most widely used drugs.

There are many reasons why people use substances. Alcohol and other drug use is not a problem for most people. However, for some people alcohol and drugs can present harm to themselves or others including injuries and infectious and chronic diseases.

Our approach to reducing alcohol and other drug-related harm has four parts:

  1. Prevent or delay the use of alcohol and other drugs by youth.
  2. Provide information and resources on healthy living, including how to use alcohol and other drugs more safely.
  3. Support people seeking services for the use of alcohol and other drugs.
  4. Support laws and policies that reduce alcohol and drug-related harms.

Alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in Canada. Most adults drink alcohol responsibly or in moderation.

Long-Term Effects

Drinking alcohol can lead to chronic diseases and other health conditions such as:

  • Cancer of the breast, esophagus, colon, rectum or liver
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Stomach ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Low birth weight
  • Dependence
  • Suicide

Short-Term Effects

Potential consequences of drinking alcohol are:

  • Increased risk for injury
  • Impaired co-ordination, judgment and/or vision
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Inability to estimate distances and decreased reaction times
  • Drowsiness, dizziness or slurred speech
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Adverse reactions with medications

Some safer drinking tips to reduce the risks associated with consuming alcohol:

  • Learn what constitutes a standard drink of wine, beer, and spirits
  • Consider how your age, body weight and health conditions may affect your alcohol limit
  • Drink slowly (for example, no more than 2 drinks in 3 hours) and avoid drinking games
  • Avoid binge drinking
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs or energy drinks
  • Alternate an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one
  • Drink water
  • Eat before and while drinking
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Avoid drinking if you’re pregnant or planning to be or if you are breastfeeding
  • Plan periods of time where you take breaks from alcohol
  • Find out what your alcohol-related health risk is by taking the Alcohol RealityCheck

Learn how you can minimize your health risks by following Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health.

  • The guidelines give a range of risk for alcohol from low to increasingly high for those who consume more than 6 standard drinks per week.
  • No matter where you are in this range, less alcohol is better for your health.

For those who are concerned with their alcohol use or would like to support a friend or family member, there are several services and supports available in the city.

This includes Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) Clinics, which offer low-barrier walk-in assessment and care.

Find a RAAM Clinic in Toronto

Other mental health and addiction services can be found at Toronto Central Health line and ConnexOntario.