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Alcohol & Other Drugs

Substance Use

It is important to understand that there is a range or spectrum in how people use substances. According to the Continuum of Substance Use Problems, use ranges from experimentation, occasional use, regular daily use, misuse to substance use disorder.

  • Experimentation is when an individual is curious about how it feels to try different substances.
  • Occasional use is when and individual uses substances socially on weekends or at parties.
  • Regular daily use is when an individual uses substances regularly a few days a week and it may become a part of their lifestyle, but has not yet become problematic. At this stage, a pattern may be forming that leads to daily or increased use.
  • Misuse is when problems are more likely to occur. An individual is increasing their use and continuing to use excessively despite negative consequences and/or harm.
  • Substance Use Disorder is when an individual repeatedly uses alcohol or other drugs affecting their daily routine, often leading to health problems, injury, and/or failure to meet responsibilities in the work, school, or home.

Be sure to consider where you, or your family, friend or loved one fall on the continuum of substance use, so that you can gather the information needed to make an informed decision about your health and next steps.

For more information visit: Understanding Substance Use Problems and Addiction.

If you choose to drink alcohol, Renfrew County and District Health Unit recommends following Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health (formerly Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines). Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health is an evidence-based resource to help Canadians make well-informed and responsible decisions about their alcohol consumption.

Key points from the guidance include:

  • There is a continuum of risk associated with weekly alcohol use where the risk of harm is:
    • 0 drinks per week — Not drinking has benefits, such as better health, and better sleep.
    • 2 standard drinks or less per week — You are likely to avoid alcohol-related consequences for yourself or others at this level.
    • 3–6 standard drinks per week — Your risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer, increases at this level.
    • 7 standard drinks or more per week — Your risk of heart disease or stroke increases significantly at this level.
    • Each additional standard drink radically increases the risk of alcohol-related consequences.
  • Consuming more than 2 standard drinks per occasion is associated with an increased risk of harms to self and others, including injuries and violence.
  • When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use.
  • When breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest.
  • No matter where you are on the continuum, for your health, less alcohol is better.

How can I quit or reduce my drinking?

If you want to take charge of how much you drink, or when you drink, Saying When is a successful program that provides step-by-step directions that can help. You could be interested in quitting drinking or just cutting down and the simple action of tracking your drinking and your urges to drink can help you get it under control.

Download the free mobile app here: Saying When: How to quit drinking or cut down.

How can I talk to my kids about alcohol and other drugs?

There is a good chance your teen will be exposed to alcohol during his or her school years. As a parent or guardian, you can help to prevent or delay your teen’s use of alcohol. Parents are a key influence in the lives of their teenagers, including their choices about alcohol use.

For more information visit: Strategies for Parents to Prevent Underage Drinking.

Help Stop Opioid Overdoses

Opioid- and Stimulant-related Harms in Canada

Understanding opioids

Prescription opioids: Know the risks

Recognize and temporarily reverse an opioid overdose


Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can temporarily stop or reverse an opioid overdose. The Health Unit provides naloxone kits to people who are eligible. See the Needle Syringe Program section of this page.

Ontario Take-Home Naloxone Programs

Naloxone in the workplace

The misuse of substances, including prescription drugs and illegal drugs, can have negative effects on the health of individuals, families, and communities.

Information about the different types of controlled and illegal drugs used in Canada


Where to get help

Drug and Alcohol Helpline 1-800-565-8603 Confidential, free, anonymous, live answer, 24/7.

Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 24-hour crisis and information line.

Harm Reduction Supplies

The Health Unit provides sterile, single use injection equipment for injection drug users. We also provide sharps containers for used supplies, which can be returned for safe disposal. Harm reduction services help prevent the transmission of diseases and reduce the health risks of drug use.

Naloxone Kits

The Health Unit offers free Naloxone kits to:

  • active clients of a Needle Syringe Program who are age 16 and over and at risk of an overdose
  • friends or family members (age 16 and over) of active at-risk clients

The Health Unit provides information about other sources of Naloxone kits for people who do not meet the above criteria.

Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can temporarily stop or reverse an opioid overdose. Examples of opioids include oxycodone, morphine, hydromorphone, fentanyl and codeine. If you think someone is having an opioid overdose call 9-1-1, then give naloxone right away.

Drop-in – no appointment necessary.

Where and When

Pembroke office

Monday to Friday except holidays
8:00 am – 4:00 pm

For more information, call the Harm Reduction Line: 613-602-6056.

Where to get Naloxone in Renfrew County and District

Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program

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Pembroke Office

141 Lake Street, Pembroke, Ontario K8A 5L8

Phone: 613-732-3629
Toll Free: 1-800-267-1097
Fax: 613-735-3067

Hours of Operation
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Renfrew Service Hub (By Appointment Only)

120 Plaunt Street South, Renfrew, Ontario, K7V 1M5

Services offered by appointment only.

If you require an alternative accessible format or assistance accessing information on this page, please contact us at or 613-732-3629.