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Alcohol & Other Drugs

Drugs are a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body. Some examples are Alcohol, Cannabis, Fentanyl, prescription drugs, etc.

Alcohol is the most common drug for both adults and youth.


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is the longest ongoing addiction and mental health survey of adults in Canada. The CAMH Monitor Report 2015 Highlights is the most recent report.


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) is a population survey of Ontario students in grades 7–12. 2015 is the most recent report.

Adolescence is a period of rapid and significant developmental changes.

These changes include: puberty, more mature thinking and reasoning, more intense emotional responses, expansion of peer groups, dating and sexual feelings, coping with multiple transitions or stress (school, job, leaving home/family), becoming more independent.

Highlighted human brain within a silhouette of a female headTeenage Brain Development

The Teenage brain is still developing and maturing until about age 30.

In the teen years, the teen is more susceptible to risk-taking.

This combination of the brain still developing and the need for risk-taking puts teens at greater risk from harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs.

What Works in Preventing Substance Use?

These things reduce risk factors and strengthen protective factors and build connections for young people:

  • Positive relationships with caring adults (family or not)
  • Parental monitoring
  • Supervised activities
  • Positive peer relationships
  • Sense of belonging
  • Problem-solving skills

These skills can help children in being able to navigate risk situations by building their “tool box”.

Prevention Strategies

  • Be a Positive Role Model
  • Communicate Openly and Effectively
  • Set Clear & Realistic Expectations
  • Be in the Know
  • Be Engaged

‘What if…’ Tips for Teens to Reduce Harm

  • Does a parent or trusted adult know where you are?
  • Do you have emergency numbers saved in your phone? Is your phone charged? Is there cell service?
  • Do you know the address of where you are?
  • How will you respond if put in an uncomfortable position?
  • How will you get home safely? What is your plan A & plan B (for example, contract with parent or trusted adult, cash for a taxi)? Staying over at a party can have its own risks.
  • What would you do if a situation got out of hand?
  • Will you be embarrassed tomorrow by what you do today?
  • How will you deal with potentially violent situations (for example walk away, pace your drinking so you don’t lose control)?
  • Do you know the signs and symptoms of an overdose or alcohol poisoning?
  • How do you look after a friend that is drunk and or high?
  • What do you do when something goes wrong (call 911, recovery position, CPR, naloxone)?

Teen sleeping in the recovery position.Youth who face each day with confidence and a positive attitude are more likely to make healthy choices!

Helpful Resources for Families

  • Triple P Parenting: A positive parenting program that gives parents simple tips to help manage the big and small problems of family life. Triple P Parenting can help with parenting questions from 0–16 years of age around topics such as sleep, self-esteem, not listening, aggression, family conflict – and many more! For support in Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, call 1-800-660-5853 and ask about Triple P or visit
  • Strategies for Parents to Prevent Underage Drinking: There is a good chance youth will be exposed to alcohol during their school years. Parents or guardians can help to prevent or delay their teens’ use of alcohol. This resource has helpful tips for families of students ages 10–18. Contact the Health Unit to obtain hard copies.
  • You, Your Teen, and Substance Use: This is a guide to help families, of students ages 12–18, to talk about alcohol, marijuana, and prescription pain medications. Contact the Health Unit to obtain hard copies.
  • Cannabis Talk Kit, Know How to Talk with Your Teen: This resource gives information on Cannabis and the concerns. It gives suggestions of what to say and how to talk with teens. For families of students ages 10–18. Contact the Health Unit to obtain hard copies.
  • Stats, Facts & Talking Points about Alcohol and Other Drugs: This booklet helps families support their teens with making good decisions. It focuses on Alcohol, High Caffeine Energy Drinks, Marijuana, and Prescription & Over-the-counter drugs. For families of students ages 10–18. Contact the Health Unit to obtain hard copies.
  • Fentanyl – Parent Fact Sheet: This fact sheet provides information on fentanyl and offers ways to reduce the risk and start the conversation with youth.