Every year, Canadian students flock south to make the best of their March break vacations. This year, given the current opioid crisis affecting North America, it is more important than ever to be aware of the risks associated with drug and alcohol use. If you plan on vacationing this March break, follow these tips to ensure your time away is as safe and healthy as possible.
For alcohol and prescription drugs:
· Know your drinking limits.
· Remember that low risk doesn’t mean no risk, and follow Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.
· Know the signs of alcohol poisoning, including drowsiness, dizziness, slurred speech, reduced inhibition, loss of coordination, inability to think clearly or accurately judge distances, decreased reaction times, confusion or memory loss, blackouts, depression, violence, suicidal behaviours, vomiting or choking, irregular heartbeat, respiratory depression, coma, or death.
· Do not mix alcohol with drugs or energy drinks.
· Never leave your drink unattended.
· Do not use drugs alone.
· Be aware that drugs can be mixed with toxic and undetectable substances like fentanyl or carfentanil.
· Do not use other people’s prescriptions.
· Remember that drugs can be counterfeit and contain both legal and illegal substances.
· Establish a transportation plan to and from your hotel when going out.
· Designate a driver; never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
· As a parent, make sure your children are aware of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
· Know the signs of opioid overdose, including difficulty walking and talking, very small pupils, cold and clammy skin, slow and weak breathing, choking, and the inability to wake up.
· If you suspect someone is having an overdose, do not leave them alone. Immediately contact emergency services. Administer naloxone if possible, and stay until help arrives (in Canada, the Good Samartian Drug Overdose act provides legal protections for someone carrying illegal drugs who has sought emergency help during an overdose situation).
When traveling outside Canada:
· Abide by the laws of the country you’re visiting. Most countries have a zero tolerance policy for illegal drugs, and may impose severe penalties for the possession and/or use of even small amounts of illicit substances. While in that country, you are subject to its laws.
· Learn the emergency contact numbers for the country you’re visiting.
· Be aware of the laws of the country you’re visiting, as they may be different from Canada’s. For example, most countries do not have the same Good Samaritan laws and protections as in Canada.
· Make sure to have health insurance that covers you while you travel. Canadian health insurance may not cover overdoses outside of Canada.
· Make sure your prescription drugs are legal in the country you’re visiting.
· Pack and store your medications carefully, and follow the rules according to the country or airport you’re visiting.