DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Wellness Wednesday: Harm Reduction for Spooky Season

Wellness Wednesday: Harm Reduction for Spooky Season

Fallen leaves
(DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)
The week of Halloween can often be an exciting time for college students. However, one of the factors that comes with spooky season is substance use. With Halloween coming up this weekend, here are some harm reduction tips, if you choose to use, and some fun sober activities as well.

Increasing BAC
Alcohol is a depressant, which means even if there are initial stimulating effects, it will end up with less desirable ones. However, to maintain the stimulating effects longer, drinking less actually helps. Here is a graph to showcase how a higher BAC, or Blood Alcohol Concentration, will actually cause a harder crash with more undesirable effects.

To pace yourself, know how many drinks or "standard pours" you want to use prior to an event. The conversions of one drink in beer, alcohol and 80-proof liquor are 12 fl oz of a 5% alcohol beer = 5 fl oz of a 12% alcohol wine = 1.5 fl oz shot of 40% alcohol liquor.

Remember, sobering takes time. The liver removes alcohol from the blood at a constant rate. Things like hot showers or coffee may provide temporary relief, but they do not truly address the alcohol in your system. Make sure to stay hydrated, but the best sobering technique is time.

Here is a harm reduction list you can reference:
  • Make a plan
  • Set a limit (BAC safe zone)
  • Eat before drinking
  • Alternate drinks with non-alcoholic drinks
  • Avoid drinking games (as it is hard to pace yourself this way)
  • Don't mix
  • Stay with friends
  • Use caution when sex is a possibility
  • Call for help when needed
Call for help if the person is:
  • Passed out or unresponsive
  • Has mental stupor/confusion
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Vomiting or seizures
  • Pale or blueish skin tone
It's important to note not all signs need to be present for help to be called. By calling Public Safety at (773) 325-7777 if a someone is in danger of alcohol poisoning, no disciplinary action will be taken against you. This is known as the Blue Demon Duty, meant to help keep the DePaul community safe.

Though the state of Illinois has legalized cannabis for individuals 21 and over, it is still illegal federally. Because DePaul is a federally-funded campus, the Drug Free Schools and Campus Act prohibits use, possession or distribution of cannabis on university campuses.

If choosing to use cannabis, it is recommended to buy from a dispensary and to also understand the dangers of mixing substances, known as the synergistic effect.

The benefit of buying from a dispensary is you are able to ensure the cannabis is safe and not mixed with any other substance that could potentially harm you. Additionally, it provides you a resource to ask direct questions about the dose and cautions about certain types of cannabis. It also helps to avoid bad trips or dangerous experiences.

Synergistic Effect
(Courtesy of Health Promotion and Wellness)
The synergistic effect is an interaction between two or more drugs that causes the total effect to be greater than the sum of the individual effects of each drug. In other words, mixing substances is not 2+2=4, but rather 2+2 becoming 10.

This is due to the difference of absorption that can occur. For example, alcohol increases the absorption of THC, a chemical found in cannabis, which increases the desirable effects such as euphoria. It also heightens the undesirable effects, too, including feeling fuzzy, disorientation, and anxiety or paranoia. This is another reason to buy from a dispensary, as they can provide you with an even more direct explanation based on specific substance types too.

Sober Activities
Here are some fun sober activities to consider:

  • Watch spooky movies with friends through online plug-ins like Netflix party that help you watch at the same time.
  • Decorate or carve pumpkins.
  • Have an "Among Us" online game tournament.
  • Play, an online Pictionary equivalent.
  • Make a delicious meal that you have always wanted to try with your roommates.
  • Do an activity that relaxes you, such as reading, baking, writing letters, scrapbooking, playing Minecraft or painting,
  • Check out the fun activities clubs are hosting on DeHub.
Finally, don't forget to use a mask!