Harm Reduction for Spooky Season

The week of Halloween can be often be an exciting time for college students. However, one of the factors that comes with spooky season is substance use so here are some harm reduction tips if you choose to use and some fun sober activities as well!

If choosing to use, here are some things to keep in mind:  

Alcohol is a depressant,

which means that even if there are initial stimulating effects, it will end up with less desirable effects. 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.


Pace Yourself

To pace yourself, know how many drinks or “standard pours” you want to use prior to an event. Here are the conversions of one drink in beer, alcohol, and 80-proof liquor.

  • 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

Lastly, sobering up takes time.

The liver removes alcohol from the blood at a constant rate so things like hot showers or coffee may provide temporary relief, but they don’t truly address the alcohol in your system. Make sure to stay hydrated but the best sobering up 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
  • vomitting or seizures
  • pale or blueish skin tone


By calling Public Safety at 773-325-7777 if a friend is in danger for alcohol poisoning, no disciplinary action will be taken against you. This is known as the Blue Demon Duty and it’s to help keep the DePaul community safe.


Important to note: Even though the state of Illinois has legalized cannabis for individuals 21 and over, it is still illegal federally, and since DePaul is federally funded campus, the Drug Free Schools and Campus Act prohibits use, possession, or distribution of cannabis on university campuses.

2 Important Harm Reduction strategies if choosing to use cannabis:

  • Buy from a dispensary
  • The dangers of mixing substances also known as the Synergistic Effect. 

Buy from a dispensary


You are able to ensure the cannabis you are buying is safe and is not mixed with any other substance that could potentially harm you if taken incorrectly. Additionally, it provides you a resource to ask direct questions about the dose and cautions about certain types of cannabis. This is incredibly important for something like edibles where the there is a higher level of ambiguity and it helps to avoid bad trips or dangerous experiences.

Synergistic Effect

An interaction between two or more drugs that causes the total effect of the drugs 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, but also heightens the undesirable effects too like feeling fuzzy, disorientation, and anxiety or paranoia. This is also another reason to buy from a dispensary as they can provide you with an even more direct explanation based on specific substances types too. 

Sober Activities

And last but certainly not least, here are some fun sober activities you could do!

  • 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” tournament
  • Play Scribble.io, an online Pictionary equivalent
  • Make a delicious meal that you have always wanted to try with your roommates
  • Do an activity that relaxes you (ex. reading, baking, writing letters, scrapbooking, playing Minecraft, painting ect.)
  • Check out the fun activities clubs are hosting on DeHub

And don’t forget to use a mask.

If you want to learn more about harm reduction with substances come to our event Nightmare on Sheffield on Monday October 26th at 7pm CST. Register on DeHub with this link.

Hope to see you there!


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