Problems Associated with Alcohol Consumption and Drug Use

Regulation of cannabis in Québec

Further the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis and to the bill tabled on April 13, 2017, the Government of Québec has tabled a bill in the fall of 2017. For more information go to encadrementcannabis.gouv.qc.ca/en/ This link opens a new window..

Intoxication

Alcohol or drug intoxication is when one or more bodily functions are impaired, regardless of the level of intoxication. There are several levels of intoxication:

  • Light
  • Moderate
  • Severe
  • Overdose

An overdose occurs when the amount of alcohol or drugs consumed nears the limit that the body can take. Overdosing can be fatal. 

Main symptoms of severe intoxication or overdose associated with alcohol and drugs

Symptoms of severe intoxication or overdose vary depending on the substance consumed. Here are the main symptoms grouped by category of drug: 

  • Disruptive substances/Hallucinogens, such as cannabis, mushrooms, MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, LSD and PCP (mescaline):
    • Restlessness
    • Anxiety
    • Confusion
    • Panic
    • Paranoia
    • Hallucinations
    • Psychosis
    • Mood swings
    • Fever
    • Seizures (stiff body with jerky and involuntary muscle spasms)
    • Coma
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Death

  • Depressants, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines (sedatives or sleeping pills), codeine, GHB, heroine, morphine and fentanyl:
    • Loss of inhibitions
    • Impaired judgment
    • Sensory impairment
    • Impaired coordination
    • Confusion
    • Delirium
    • Stupor (a combination of fear and bewilderment)
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Seizures (stiff body with jerky and involuntary muscle spasms)
    • Heart problems
    • Coma
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Slow heart rate
    • Death
  • Stimulants, such as amphetamines, cocaine and methamphetamines:
    • Restlessness, hyperactivity
    • Trembling
    • Fever
    • Confusion
    • Delirium
    • Seizures (stiff body with jerky and involuntary muscle spasms)
    • Renal failure
    • Paranoia
    • Heart problems (heart attack)
    • Coma
    • Stroke
    • Death

Helping someone who is intoxicated

Severe intoxication and overdose can lead to undesirable effects that have serious consequences. If you are with someone who has been drinking or done drugs and appears to be in bad shape, keep an eye on him or her and check for any of the following signs:

  • Little or no response at all
  • Loss of consciousness or very deep sleep
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold or clammy skin 

If the person shows one of these signs, he or she may be severely intoxicated or overdosing. Call 9-1-1 and stay with him or her until help arrives. A person with one or more of the above signs should never be left alone.

If you are unsure whether or not someone is seriously intoxicated, call Info-Santé at 811 or the Centre antipoison du Québec (poison control centre) at 1 800 463-5060.

Dangers Associated with Combining Different Drugs

Drugs are more dangerous when mixed because this often makes their effects stronger and more intense. Taking different drugs at the same time is very risky because the combination of substances can result in unpredictable effects. All mixtures of drugs can lead to serious complications and can even be fatal.

To learn more, read Alcohol and Drugs: A Combination to Avoid.

Bad trip

A person who has taken drugs may want to stop feeling their effects. This causes him or her to panic or experience paranoia. Such an experience is called a ‘bad trip’. Most drugs can cause a bad trip. Some people are at risk of experiencing a bad trip with one type of drug over another. A person who is having a bad trip should never be left alone. 

Blackout

A ‘blackout’ is a temporary loss of memory or consciousness that can happen during a heavy intoxication of alcohol or certain hallucinogens.

A person who has had a blackout generally experiences:

  • A change in mood
  • Short-term memory loss – forgetting what happened the previous day, for instance

Dependency (Addiction)

Psychological dependence

Psychological dependence occurs when someone has to take a drug increasingly often in order to:

  • Feel better about himself or herself
  • Relax
  • Calm down
  • Be stimulated
  • Gain courage to face problems, etc.

Physical dependence

Physical dependency is a need created when the body becomes accustomed to the effects of a drug. A person who is dependent on a drug has difficulty functioning without it. Dependency also induces varying degrees of physical reaction in someone when he or she does not have the drug. These symptoms are collectively known as “withdrawal symptoms”.

Withdrawal symptoms

People who regularly drink alcohol or use drugs in huge amounts can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop or reduce their consumption.

Symptoms vary depending on the category of substance consumed:

  • Disruptive substances/Hallucinogens, such as cannabis, mushrooms, MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, LSD and PCP (mescaline):
    • Irritability
    • Possibility of symptoms of depression and anxiety
    • An obsessive craving for the substance
    • Anxiety
    • Nightmares
    • Nausea
    • Headaches
    • Trembling
    • Hypertension
    • Heart problems

  • Depressants, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines (sedatives or sleeping pills), codeine, GHB, heroine, morphine and fentanyl:
    • Anxiety, panic attacks, irritability
    • Restlessness
    • Delirium
    • Insomnia
    • Excessive sweating
    • Trembling
    • Seizures (stiff body with jerky and involuntary muscle spasms)
    • Nausea, vomiting
    • Confusion
    • Hallucinations
    • Spasms
    • Goosebumps, shivers
    • Diarrhea, cramps, abdominal pain

  • Stimulants, such as amphetamines, cocaine and methamphetamines:
    • Fatigue, weakness
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Anxiety, irritability
    • Insomnia
    • Increased appetite
    • Headaches
    • Nausea
    • Depression, suicidal thoughts
    • An obsessive craving for the substance

Last update: May 13, 2016 10:09 AM

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