Preventing and addressing substance use with your kids

You have an opportunity as a parent to discuss using alcohol or other drugs. Opening up to your kids about substances early is a good way to help influence their decision making around using substances. 

The best way to talk to youth about drug use is to listen to them and keep an open mind. Start the conversations early, and keep it going.

  • Spend time together doing the things you enjoy. It is a great time to talk with your kids about using substances. 
  • Develop rules with your child about alcohol and drugs. Stay calm if the rules are broken. Tell them you care about them and want to make sure they are happy and healthy.
  • Stay connected to your youth.

View the How to Talk to your Children about Cannabis infographic

You have more of an influence than you think! Together, parents, caregivers and other role models can help change perception of using alcohol or other drugs by:

  • Be a good role model. Avoid using alcohol or drugs to cope with stress and avoid making them seem glamorous or a way to have fun.
  • Model ways to have fun that does not involve alcohol and drugs.
  • Develop rules with your child about alcohol and drugs. Stay calm if the rules are broken. Tell them you care about them and want to make sure they are happy and healthy.
  • Provide alcohol and drug-free activities for your child and their friends.
  • You are not alone. Get support from other parents and professionals.
  • Get to know your child's friends and their parents, and keep track of after school activities.

Pay attention to changes in your child’s behaviour for signs of substance use. Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about your child using substances. Find more information in where to get help.

Signs your teen may need help with substance use include:

  • Ignoring responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  • Giving up activities that they find important or enjoyable.
  • Changes in mood (e.g., feeling irritable and paranoid).
  • Changing friends.
  • Having difficulties with family members.
  • Changing sleep habits, appetite, or other behaviors.

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