Understanding Youth Substance Use
Some children and youth experiment with and push boundaries. This behavior is a part of growing up for many young people. When tobacco, alcohol, other drugs or gambling is involved, experimentation can become a progression that may lead to dependency or an addiction. The Teacher Information Series is designed to give teachers factual information to help engage students in talking about substance use and gambling and allow them to make informed lifestyle decisions and healthy choices. You can learn more here: Teacher Information Series
Alberta Health Services also offers a Parent Information Series designed to answer frequently asked questions and give parents factual information that may help prevent children from using drugs, help them make healthy lifestyle choices and support them in making changes in their lives.
There are even Parent Newsletter inserts available that address various topics to support parents as they navigate parenting children and teens. One example of an insert outlines how alcohol and drug problems can develop. It addresses understanding the stages of alcohol or drug use including experimental use, social use, harmful use and dependency.
Some teenagers will try substances, including alcohol, out of curiosity or peer pressure and decide it’s not for them. Others will experiment and then keep using. If you suspect your teen is experimenting, encourage them to meet with a counsellor to discuss substances and their effects. If your teen is not willing to go, meet the counsellor yourself to help you see what you can do.
For youth who need counselling support, Alberta Health Services offers different levels of treatment to meet individual needs. For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, please call the 24-hour Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.
You can learn more about addiction prevention and mental health promotion in schools here: Teachers and Schools.
Michelle Sauvé is a Tobacco Reduction Counsellor on the Prevention Promotion Team for Addiction and Mental Health and can be contacted at email@example.com.