Dating Safe: Intoxication Culture and How it Impacts Relationships

Dating Safe: Intoxication Culture and How it Impacts Relationships

by Amy Foreman

“44% of youth surveyed in BC indicated that they had drank heavily in the last month.”[1]

Intoxication culture permeates through media, schools, friend groups and households and can have a negative impact on a young person’s development in terms of their neurological development and their ability to create healthy, positive relationships.

It is very important to note that consent is not obtained if a person is impaired by alcohol or drugs.[2]

Consent is people deciding what is best for them, clearly and enthusiastically. Consent is a voluntary agreement to engage in an activity. It must be given by both people. Consent must be clearly expressed in words and behavior.

What is Intoxication Culture?

Intoxication culture describes the influence of participating in drinking or drug use in social settings and for young people this often decides if they are included or excluded in social gatherings.

It is a set of institutions, behaviours and mindsets around consumptions of drugs and alcohol.

Unfortunately, intoxication culture can seep into relationships as alcohol and substances can be a catalyst for violence and abusive behaviour. This violence is often connected to hypermasculinity and the dominant systems that exist that perpetuate violence against women and girls. Intoxication culture, toxic masculinity, and the objectification of women often go hand in hand.

In addition to the violence that can be experienced through intoxication culture, there can also be detriments to young people’s health and well-being.

Alternatives to Intoxication Culture

  • Cultural, Spiritual Lifestyles – E.g. Meditation
  • Spend time in places with no substances – E.g. Community Centers
  • Physical Activity – E.g. Hiking
  • Seeking Resources that support well-being – E.g. Counsellors
  • Supporting each other to live free from intoxication – E.g. Respecting others choices to not drink

Where to get support if you are dealing with substance use issues or want to learn more about intoxication culture?

Next Week

Next week will complete this blog series which will focus on how to intervene safety when you are seeing violence happen.


[2] Adapted from Department of Justice, Government of Canada, A Definition of Consent to Sexual Activity