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!


Healthy Relationships and Making Friends Through Distanced Learning

*This week we discuss how to make friends in an online environment and what makes a healthy or unhealthy relationship*

Hi Friends!

How did your first week at school go? I personally found it to be quite disorienting just with trying to keep track of things in every class, but I also noticed one other thing about this year.

How am I going to make friends?

Without the social interactions of passing by in the hallway or seeing a friend in the dining hall to catch up with them, it can feel hard to translate making friends to our online atmosphere as well how to know if the relationships you have created are healthy or unhealthy. But that’s why HPW is here to guide you!

Funny story: to replicate the “in-class” conversation vibes, a friend and I were private zoom chatting during lecture and I accidentally sent a response to the whole class. Here is a meme to describe the emotions I was feeling:

Private Zoom Chat Mistakes



So then what are some ways we can connect with our classmates?

Exchange Social Media Handles

In doing so you can keep up with them and see what they are up too with stories and posts and have a method of communication that isn’t as formal as an email but more public than a phone number. To me, this is the online equivalent of hanging out in the student center and introducing yourself to people in the first week.

Join Clubs that Spark your Interests

I remember being quite unsure when coming to college of what extracurriculars I wanted to participate in, but after attending the involvement fair I found about three or four clubs that peaked some interest.

One of them was the club rowing team, and after I attended an initial meeting to understand how it would work, I decided to join and found a solid group of friends that way.

The involvement fair happened last week, but stay on the look out for DeHub’s events section as clubs often post their upcoming events there.

Study with a classmate and introduce yourself on the discussion board

If your professor hasn’t already made you introduce yourself, see if you can start a thread for introductions. This can be a great way to see how your hobbies and passions align with others and if they are the same major as you, feel free to email them and ask if they want to study with you!

Attend events that encourage you to meet new people!

Organizations such as Global Coffee host events throughout the quarter to help create a community that the students can be a part of. These events are a great way to exchange emails and social media handles with those who you felt interested in connecting with and continue to make you feel part of DePaul wherever you are!

Find communities outside of DePaul with your hobbies!

I recognize that DePaul has its limits in what it can provide but it doesn’t mean these tips can’t also be taken elsewhere! If you have a hobby that you are interested in and spend a lot of time on, there is bound to be a community out there for you to connect on!

A couple examples from myself these past couple months is connecting with people on discord and forums about sports card investing, and I also started learning Japanese and then found out even Duolingo has a forum for people! I’m also part of a subreddit for fountain pens that I check every once in a while too!

While privacy is a larger concern when being part of these groups, it is still an opportunity to meet and hang out with people who have similar interests to you! 🙂

Fostering old and new relationships

Having a healthy relationship is imminent to creating a supportive environment that you both benefit from.

Some signs of a healthy relationship are

  • Being honest with one another
  • supporting each others endeavors
  • respecting each others boundaries

In a time where ease of communication supersedes someone being ready for it, make sure you practice boundary setting to take care of yourself and know that you don’t always have to be “on”.

So then what do unhealthy relationships look like?

  • Power based dynamic (i.e. putting you down or making you feel inferior)
  • isolation from others
  • insults, jealousy, or physical harm
  • lack of honesty

If you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship

The first thing to note is that abuse is always the fault of the abuser. I know there may be a sense of guilt and want to take responsibility, but recognize that you are only responsible for your own actions and not someone else’s.

Ask yourself if your own needs are being met.

Are you getting enough sleep? Eating enough? How has your mental health been? By finding time to ask yourself these questions, you are enacting a step towards change in the areas that you are able to fully control.

Reach out for support.

This can be from friends and family, or if that doesn’t feel comfortable, DePaul’s Health, Promotion and Wellness center would be happy to meet with you and provide some resources for you!


For more resources on healthy relationships go to bit.ly/hpwrelationships or if you would like to contact the HPW team to set up an appointment go to bit.ly/hpwcontact and there will be emails at the bottom of the page and resources you can look through!

Also, feel free to check out loveisrespect.org for more quality information.

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