Many young people will try alcohol, tobacco or other drugs at some point in their lives. What we know from the Alberta Youth Experience Survey (2002) is 56% of youth in grades 7 to 12 have used alcohol in the last year, 16% smoked cigarettes, and 28% used cannabis (marijuana, pot). Experimentation is a natural part of growing up, however the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco may have serious health and legal consequences. What can you do?
Communicate: Keep the lines of communication open with your children. Ask questions, make it safe for them to ask you questions, and learn as much as you can about the risks and consequences of using alcohol, drugs, tobacco and gambling. Tell your children the truth about these consequences.
Know the signs: Changes in school performance, attitudes towards sports and other activities, weight, eating or sleeping habits and changes in friends may signal alcohol or drug use or abuse.
Talk about the changes: Talk to your children about the changes you see in them. Tell them the differences between the way they behave now, and the way they used to behave. Explain your concern in non-judgmental terms.
Stay connected: By knowing where your kids are, what they are doing and who they are hanging out with, you increase the chances they will not become harmfully involved with drugs, alcohol and gambling.
If you’re a teacher: