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Need urgent help? Find support here.

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If you find yourself in need of immediate help, call Emergency Services – 911.

These are examples of situations that you should seek immediate help:

  • Thinking about ending your life or trying to end your life.
  • Feeling scared because you’re experiencing sensations that aren’t real and/or beliefs that can’t possibly be true.
  • Becoming unable to care for yourself, and it’s putting you at risk of serious harm.
  • Experiencing an alcohol or any other drug overdose.
  • Taking a dangerous combination of substances (like medications and alcohol).

Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), online chat or SMS/Text: Text 45645 anytime if you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be. 

For other phone, chat or text support options, visit our Get Support section.

Alcohol Use: The Basics

Alcohol use can interfere with who you want to be and where you want to go in life. If you drink, know how to stay safe and don't let it take control of you.

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What is it?

Alcohol is one of the oldest and most widely used substances in the world. People drink alcohol for many reasons and in different settings including social situations, religious ceremonies, to help deal with something difficult or due to a substance use problem.

It’s not unusual for young people to try alcohol, many may try it only once or drink occasionally. Most young people who drink don’t go on to develop serious problems, however, it can become a problem for some. Alcohol can harm the way a person’s body and brain develop. The younger a person is when they start using alcohol, the greater their risk of harm.

Here’s some information to help you stay safe and reduce your risk of harm.

Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines

Drinking alcohol is a personal choice. If you choose to drink, Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines can help you decide when, where, why and how.

If you are 19 or older

  • Females are advised to have no more than 2 drinks a day or 10 drinks a week.
  • Males are advised to limit drinking to 3 drinks a day or 15 drinks a week.

If you are under 19

  • The general recommendation is to not drink.
  • For young people who do drink, it is recommended you have no more than 1 or 2 drinks in any setting and not drink more than twice a week.

See the picture below for what one drink is.

What leads to problems with alcohol use?

Research has identified many factors that are linked to problematic alcohol use. These factors don’t mean that a person will automatically develop a drinking problem, but they do increase the risk.

Factors linked with developing a problem with alcohol include:

  • Other family members having substance use problems in the past or present
  • Difficulty managing stress and other challenges
  • Family problems or conflict at home
  • Having a mental health condition that is not well managed
  • Difficulty fitting in at school, at work or with peers
  • Stressful life change
  • Experiencing trauma

Potentially problematic forms of alcohol use include:

  • Binge drinking (drinking large quantities in a very short period of time)
  • Driving after you have been drinking
  • Frequently using alcohol as a way of dealing with problems
  • Mixing alcohol with other substances, including illegal drugs, prescription medications and over-the-counter medications. Learn more about Drugs & Other Substances.

A person may not see how their alcohol use is negatively affecting their life or they may not be able to stop on their own.

Drinking alcohol is a personal choice. It is important to notice how your alcohol use is affecting your life so you can decide if you need to take action.

What Next?

If you want to learn more about the early signs or find out if this is something you are experiencing here are a few options.