Drugs and consent can get complex

Trip project aims to create a more open dialogue on how to give and get consent in all scenarios

Drugs, alcohol, and sex have historically been related, in good and bad ways. The line between having fun and engaging in an abusive interaction can sometimes be unclear.

“People have been doing drugs and having sex since as long as they’ve been people,” said Lori Kufner, co-ordinator of the Trip Project.

The organization provides non-judgmental information around safer drug use and safer sex. The Trip Project aims to reduce the possible harm of mixing drugs and sex by showing how to talk about consent in all scenarios.

But what exactly is consent? Canadian law defines it as the “voluntary agreement” to participate in a sexual activity.

To make sure consent is properly given at all times, the criminal code of Canada establishes that a person “has to be awake, conscious, and sober to make a clear decision.”

As per the Department of Justice, you can only consent for yourself and that the consent can be taken back. In other words, you can say “no” to anything at any time.

But giving and asking for consent can be complicated, especially for students or young people that are going to parties for the first time. The reality is that, regardless the law, people engage in sexual activities when they are not sober.

“We want to give people the tools to recognize when something might not be consensual, how to have a more open dialogue around how to give consent, and how to get consent in a non-sober environment,” Kufner said.

In any situation, sexual consent can be an uncomfortable topic, but talking about it makes things easier.

“We want to think that there’s space for a conversation, before, during and after, around how the interaction goes,” Kufner said.

Good communication is key to avoid getting involved in a serious situation, such as being sexually abused or being charged for sexual assault. If someone that’s accused of these offenses honestly and reasonably believed that consent was given, the authorities may not be able to help.

“It is a complicated situation, whether you are sober or not, so it really is about just familiarizing yourself with what kind of things you do like, what you don’t like, and being comfortable talking about it,” explained Kufner.

Trip ran a workshop at George Brown as part of the Community Action Centre’s Disorientation week.

Michelle Pettis, co-ordinator of the Community Action Centre, explained how they want to empower the students through these workshops.

“Building a consent culture is power students have,” Pettis said. “Consent is an issue to address in the classroom, at workplaces, and socially with each other.”

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Drugs and consent can get complex