Substance Use and COVID-19


People may be experiencing stress and anxiety because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to take care of your mental, physical, and emotional well-being, and find healthy ways to cope. Check out the resource below for actions you can take to deal with emotions and stress:

Coping with stress 

For more information on mental health, please visit: Protecting Your Mental Health.

COVID-19 and Alcohol

Heavy alcohol use can weaken your immune system, increasing your risk of developing health problems like COVID-19.

During these times, people may be experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety and loneliness. It is understandable that people may use alcohol to deal with emotions and stress. People may also be drinking more alcohol than they typically do. This is because our daily and weekly routines have changed and we may have more alcohol in the home than usual.

It is especially important now to be aware of our drinking patterns and make decisions to decrease our risk of physical and mental health problems.

How to reduce the risk of health problems from alcohol use

Drinking is a personal choice. If you choose to drink alcohol, the Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can help you make decisions about your drinking and how to lower your health risks.

Know your limits and reduce your health risks by drinking no more than:

  • 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day;
  • 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day.

Follow safer drinking tips to avoid heavy drinking:

  • Set limits for yourself and stick to them;
  • Drink slowly and have no more than two drinks in any three hours;
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink for every drink of alcohol.

Do not drink alcohol if you are:

  • Taking medications or other drugs that interact with alcohol;
  • Responsible for the safety of others;
  • Pregnant or planning to be pregnant;
  • Living with mental or physical health problems;
  • Driving a vehicle or using machinery and tools;
  • Doing any kind of dangerous physical activity;
  • Making important decisions;
  • Living with alcohol dependence.

If you are concerned with your drinking or the drinking of a loved one, reach out for help. ConnexOntario is available at 1-866-531-2600 to provide free and confidential information.


COVID-19 and Cannabis

Cannabis use will not protect you from COVID-19. Smoking cannabis directly affects your lungs, making you more prone to respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. In addition, while more research is still needed, there is some evidence that cannabis use has the potential to weaken your immune system.

How to reduce the risk of health problems from cannabis use

Using cannabis is a personal choice, but it can have short- and long-term effects on your health. If you choose to use cannabis, the Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines can help you make decisions on how to lower your health risks.

Follow safer cannabis use tips such as:

  • Limit your use as much as possible. Try only occasional use of cannabis, like once a week or on weekends.
  • Choose non-smoking options like vaping or edibles. Keep in mind that these options come with risks.
  • Do not share joints, pipes, bongs or vaporizers to decrease the risk of spreading infections like COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands before putting cannabis products, like bongs or vaporizers, in your mouth.
  •  Do not mix cannabis with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
  • Speak with your health care provider if you are using cannabis for medical reasons and have any questions about using medical cannabis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are concerned with your cannabis use or a loved one’s cannabis use, reach out for help. ConnexOntario is available at 1-866-531-2600 to provide free and confidential information.


COVID-19, Smoking Tobacco and Vaping 

Smoking directly affects your lungs and weakens your immune system, which makes you more prone to lung and chest infections. In addition, if you are sick with COVID-19, smoking may worsen the symptoms and increase the risk of complications. While more research is needed, there is some evidence that the effects of vaping are similar to smoking and therefore it is possible that vaping can increase the risk of developing COVID-19 and can worsen symptoms.  

The COVID-19 pandemic can cause feelings of stress and anxiety. This may lead people to turn to substances, like tobacco, to deal with these feelings.  

How to reduce the risk of health problems from smoking tobacco and vaping

The best thing you can do to reduce the risk of health problems is to quit. This is especially important now to reduce the harm caused by COVID-19. If you are ready to quit, call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or check out the Local Quit Smoking Supports guide. You can also visit for free and personalized tools to help you quit.  

If you choose to smoke or vape tobacco, it is important to make decisions on how to lower your health risks.  

  • Wash your hands before you smoke or vape as this requires frequent hand to mouth contact.  
  • Do not share cigarettes and vaping products as it increases the chances of spreading germs. 
  • Reduce how much you use.  


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