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Youth Substance Use: Information for Parents

Teaching Children and Youth about Substance Use

Children are smart and learn all the time. As a parent or caregiver, you are the best person to show them how to make good decisions.

You may worry about your children using substances, but they will be more willing to listen to you talk about your concerns if you:

  • talk to them calmly
  • take time to learn the facts about different substances
  • tell them the facts without trying to scare them
  • show them they can trust the information you give them

You’ve taught them more than you think

You have taught your children about substances from the time they were very small. You’ve told them not to touch anything in the medicine cabinet, not to drink coffee and beer, and why smoking cigarettes isn’t a healthy behaviour.

Ask your children:

  • what they understand about substance use
  • if they are worried about anyone’s substance use
  • if they have been asked to use any substance

Substances change the way the body and mind work

Substances, like drugs, can have good or harmful effects. If you take the right amount of a drug as a medicine, it will help you get better. If you take too much, it can make you very sick.

Talk about this with your children. Also talk to them about the different kinds of drugs like medicines, legal drugs, and illegal drugs.

Use examples

Have you seen a movie or read a book about someone who uses substances in a harmful way? Do your children have any examples to share?

Talk about the lives and the decisions of the people in the book or movie. Use this time to give your children good information. Teaching your child about substance use is the best way to help them make good decisions.

More information

Alberta Health Services offers many addiction and mental health services to help you, your child, and your family, including:

  • information and prevention programs
  • group and family counseling
  • outpatient and residential treatment
  • the Protection of Children Abusing Drugs Program (PChAD)

For more information or to find services near you, call Health Link at 811.

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