Hide this page


A drug is a substance that changes one or more central nervous system functions once it’s absorbed. It can have impacts on thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and moods.

Drugs are classified based on their effects on the central nervous system.

The quest for pleasure and the search for new sensations are the main reasons leading some young people to try drugs.

Here's what you need to know about cannabis

Since October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis has been legalized in Canada. The law does not change for minors. You should not sell or provide cannabis to a person under 21 years-old.

  • To buy, possess or use cannabis in Quebec, you must be 21 or older
  • It is strictly prohibited and punishable by law to sell or provide cannabis to a minor
  • The purchase of recreational cannabis is permitted at some authorized retailers only
  • Learn about the effects of cannabis before consuming it. Just like alcohol and tobacco, it has effects on your health
  • Do not drive and do not work if your faculties are weakened by cannabis
  • The use of cannabis for medical purposes remains legal and permitted when prescribed by a health professional

Possible effects

Unpredictable effects

The consequences of drug taking depend mainly on the combination of the substance (its nature, its purity, the amount absorbed, how it was taken, the time to eliminate it from the body), the individual (his/her tolerance for the drug, consumption habits, weight, height, general health, emotional state before taking the drug), and the context (place and people around).

Bad trips

A bad trip often takes the form of incoherent speech and an intensification of the emotional state the person was in before he/she took the drug (sadness, anxiety, depression). It is recommended that you try to calm the person down, take him/her to a quiet, dimly lit place, and wait for the effects to wear off. Don’t hesitate to contact an emergency service such as Info-Santé, the CLSC, or the Poison Control Centre if you need help or information.


Blackouts often involve short-term memory loss (forgetting what happened the day before) and mood changes. They happen after serious intoxication with alcohol or some hallucinogens. It is recommended that you try to calm the person down, take him/her to a quiet, dimly lit place, and wait for the effects to wear off. Don’t hesitate to contact an emergency service such as Info-Santé, the CLSC, or the Poison Control Centre if you need help or information.


An overdose means that too much of the drug is present in the body. Reactions differ depending on the type and amount of drug absorbed but also based on the person’s physical and psychological condition, or the specific context they are in. An overdose can cause death. It requires emergency help because the person could stop breathing. It’s critically important to call an ambulance or get to a hospital fast.

Mixing drugs

There are so many drugs and possible combinations that it’s impossible to accurately list all the effects and consequences. But you need to remember that alcohol should not be taken with most medications or recreational drugs, and that any combination of drugs can trigger major complications. In some cases, mixing drugs can even lead to heart failure.

Effects on sexuality

In low doses, drugs may enhance desire and arousal and delay orgasm somewhat. In high doses, however, they can decrease desire, cause erectile dysfunction in men and lubrication problems in women, and lead to an inability to reach orgasm. They can also cause you to do things you wouldn’t normally do because you’re no longer able to respect your own limits or make other people respect them.

Frequently asked questions

What can I do if one of my parents has a drug problem?
white arrow pointing down

Having a mother or father who takes drugs isn’t an easy situation. If his/her drug taking causes him/her to neglect you or be violent to you, you need to talk about it to someone you trust (family or professional).

It’s important for you to realize that you aren’t responsible for the situation. And you don’t have to act like your dad or mom’s parent. If he/she takes drugs every day, a specialized support person may have to be consulted. You can tell your parent what you’re going through and suggest that he/she consult a professional who will be able to help.

How can I help a friend who’s taking drugs?
white arrow pointing down
  • When your friend isn’t under the effect of the drugs, tell him/her that you’re worried about his/her drug taking.
  • Listen to him/her without judging or preaching.
  • Suggest that he/she talk to a professional at school, the CLSC, or Tel-jeunes.
  • Acknowledge your own limits: decide how much you’re able to help without taking too much on yourself.
How can I come down from a high?
white arrow pointing down

Rest, drink water, don’t forget to go to the bathroom regularly, and give yourself time to get back to normal. Depending on how much you took, this might take a few hours or even days. You might also have negative thoughts due to the drug and the fact that you’re not feeling well. If you feel a need not to be alone, say so. If possible, ask someone to stay with you. Only time will help you feel better. Make use of this time to assess the consequences of your drug taking: are you willing to take less next time so you won’t have to feel these highly unpleasant effects?

I want to help my partner stop taking drugs
white arrow pointing down

First ask yourself if the desire to quit comes from him/her or you. The decision has to be made by the person who’s taking drugs or the chances that he/she will quit are very low. If he/she does want to quit, you can encourage him/her and suggest that he/she ask for professional help. It’s also a question of values: if the fact that your partner takes drugs is against your values, you need to talk it over together. Can you find a compromise? Ask yourself what’s negotiable for you and what isn’t.