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Substance Use & Abuse

Substance use is when someone uses tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs or other substances. Substance abuse is when someone is addicted to using one or more of these substances. Substance abuse can also happen when there isn't an addiction present. For example, people who drink heavily periodically often called binge drinking are considered to be abusing substances. Both substance use and abuse can negatively affect a person's life.

Some teens may try drugs, drinking or smoking because they feel pressured to fit in with peers. Some may use substances to rebel or escape from their lives. Others may be drawn by curiosity. Whatever the reason, it is important to talk to your teen about the effects of substance use. When talking to your teen, stay calm and really listen. Keep in mind that in some situations, it may be necessary to seek help outside of your family, such as an addictions counselor, to get to the source of the problem.

It is very important to talk to your teen about partying and staying safe. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to drink alcohol, yet many teens do drink underage. It is a good idea to tell your teen that at any time, day or night, you will come and get him if he does not have a safe ride home. Tell her that you will not yell, punish or discuss her actions until the next day. If your teen does make the smart choice and calls you when she doesn't have a safe ride home, make sure you tell her that she made the right and responsible decision to not drive or ride with someone who is intoxicated.

Additionally, talk to your teen about staying safe when drinking alcohol. Many people are sexually assaulted while drunk or passed out. It is a good idea to talk to your teen about his safety. Maybe it is as simple as always staying with a friend or group of friends. Whatever you decide, come up with a plan together that will help to keep him safe.

Experimenting is often a normal part of adolescence and most teens will not develop an addiction. But some do. Make sure your child is aware of the legal, social, physical and mental problems that can come from substance use. If you believe your child is using substances or has a problem, seek help from one of the many Manitoba addiction services that provides support to youth and their families.

Possible signs that your teen may have a substance use problem could include changes in grades, changes in involvement in school and after-school activities, increased moodiness or anxiety, withdrawal from family and friends, and having no money yet having no purchases to show for it.

Tobacco

Alcohol & Drugs

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