A guide to summer drinking and drugging

By Nick Adams

Published June 18 2019

Summer is coming. The debt of a cold winter and wet spring will soon be paid in full. Whether or not the weather cooperates summer will officially begin at 11:54 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Friday June 21. This is the time of year that we have all waited for with great anticipation and our population in Haliburton County doubles or triples with those who are coming here to enjoy what summer in the Highlands has to offer. Long days in the sun and long nights by the campfire beckon us.

With summer comes vacations and holidays and time spent with family and friends. It is also traditionally a time when alcohol and substances are consumed more regularly. A cold beer on the deck in the afternoon sun a glass of wine with a nice grilled steak at supper a scotch on the rocks while playing cards late into the evening in the screened-in porch. These are all realities of what is everyday summer living for a large portion of the population.

Now with the legalization of marijuana a joint at a campfire singalong is not out of the question. (Not that it ever was to begin with.) Anyone over the age of 19 can make their own decisions about the appropriateness of doing any or all of these things this summer and beyond. One person may choose to drink and another may not. We all have choices we can make. When it comes to alcohol and substance use we are all somewhere on the continuum shown in the diagram and therefore impacted by substance use in one way or another.

The reality of substance use alcohol or drugs is that most people fit into the categories listed in the middle or the right of the diagram. Most adults either choose not to use substances or have used them and will or will not use them again or regularly use them and they do not affect their daily life. However when substance use enters the left side of the diagram it may begin to have serious consequences on the user. As you can see from the diagram there is movement that can take place between all of the stages of use and just because you are using substances in a non-problematic way today does not mean that it will necessarily stay that way for a period of time.

In my role as media and communications worker for the Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Northumberland Drug Strategy I will be informing the public about the potential harms and issues that alcohol and substance use can have in our lives and in our communities. I will introduce you to our Four Pillar approach that brings light to the issues affecting our community in relation to substance use.

In future columns I will write about the Four Pillars; Harm Reduction Prevention and Education Treatment and Justice and Enforcement. As someone who has engaged in substance use in the past and is into the second year in recovery I want to share with you my own personal journey so that those who are struggling with their own substance use issues may feel empowered to reach out to someone to get help.
I do not want to be a buzz-kill for those of you who are able to use substances safely and stay on the right side of the diagram but I will keep you informed about the potential risks that even occasional use of substances can have.
The more we talk about our own substance use and ways to stay safe the more we can show compassion and tolerance to others who have made different choices or those who identify themselves as being addicted. I want to remove the stigma around what it means for someone to struggle with their substance use and help create a more positive and well balanced approach to dealing with the issues surrounding substance use in our community. Let’s talk about these things in a public forum where everyone can be heard.

Reach me at communications@hklndrugstrategy.ca or by phone at 705-854-1072. And follow the drug strategy @HKLNDrugStrat on Twitter and HKLNDrugStrategy on Facebook.
Until next week!

Nick Adams is the media and communications worker for the Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Northumberland Drug Strategy. These weekly columns will touch on the work that the Drug Strategy is doing to reduce the harms and stigma around substance use in our communities and also share Nick’s unique perspective drawing on his own personal experience.