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Just say ‘know.’ So, you’re interested in learning about drugs and the impact it can have on your wellbeing. Good for you! Right now you’re at an age where it’s really important to learn all about drugs and some of the risks they pose to you and your friends. A lot of people may have lectured you about drugs, and told you all sorts of terrible things about them. You also might have heard other people brag about their drug use, and tell you how great drugs can make you feel. We know how hard it is to find the truth, especially when everybody seems so convincing. That’s why we’ve created this magazine. We believe that explaining the straight facts about drugs and alcohol is the best way to prepare you for this type of environment and help sort out some of these confusing messages. We hope you enjoy reading this magazine. We hope it makes you think. Most of all, we hope that after finishing with this booklet you will have a better awareness of how drugs can affect you, and how you have the power to live proudly, happily and drug-free.

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Elana Sures Author

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR >> Elana Sures is a registered clinical counsellor and freelance writer based in Vancouver, BC. Throughout her career she has provided therapy for youth and adults with mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as their affected family members. She has also given numerous public education presentations on these issues. Her website is









Three teens facing the same every day challenges, just like you, and their stories. Learn about their experiences and follow them throughout the articles. They might have the same questions and concerns as you.



In this feature article, we cover how to recognize depression and how to follow through with a successful recovery.



Before learning about the different substances, and how they effect people, it is important to know why people use.



Take our Drug Effects Assessment and gauge where you stand personally, as well as what steps to take next.


4 Just Like You

28 Marjiuana

6 Why Do People Use Drugs

29 Cocaine & Ecstacy

8 Drug & Alcohol Use

30 Heroin

12 Substance Abuse & Mental Health


13 Dependency

32 Hallucinagins

14 Depression

33 Inhalants

16 Friends & Substance Abuse

34 Oxycontin & Fentanyl

18 Concurrent Disorders

36 Crystal Meth

22 Substance Information

40 Alcohol & Alcohol Abuse


42 Addiction


25 E-Cigarettes

44 Drugs Effects Assessment

26 Flavoured Tobacco




Resources for Parents



just like

We are very excited to introduce you to our youth contributors. These three teens are just like you ! You’ll be able to connect to their experiences throughout this book, helping you learn more about drugs, addiction, and mental health.

“ My

I’m Max. I am in seventh grade, and I’m tapping into a whole new world.


name is Max

I don’t drink or use any drugs, but I’ve been in junior high long enough to realize that it seems to be a ticket into where the fun is at. I see people walking off the school property in big groups at lunch time and after school, and I wonder where they’re going. They seem close knit and they laugh a lot. Personally, I don’t quite get the attraction to drugs. When I see people who are stoned and drunk, they come across as looking kind of stupid to me. But I’d really like to fit in with the cool groups at school. They seem to have way more fun and are always getting attention from other kids. I’ve had enough of being on the fringe of popularity, and I’d like to finally get invited to some parties. Is this what I need to do to be included?


“ H e y. I ’ m E l l a . ” I’m 14. I don’t do drugs, I smoke weed. Totally different thing, right? I’d never touch any of the other stuff, although I do like drinking at parties. But that’s not a drug either, so I’m good. I like smoking weed – it is the only way I have found to truly not feel stressed. And I know what stress feels like. I get it all the time from my parents and from my teachers…even the constant texts and Facebook posts I get from friends. Life moves pretty fast sometimes, and weed helps me slow it all down and appreciate the moment. I admit that I find it hard to motivate myself to get things done – I skip soccer practices sometimes and find it really hard to focus on my homework. I also find it hard to enjoy things that I used to enjoy – things are just so much better with weed.

“I’m Liam.”

I just re-entered school after a bit of a…break I guess you could say. I was kicked out of my last school because I was caught selling Ritalin and E to my fellow classmates. I got started pretty young – maybe 12 or 13. My buddies and I used to inhale stuff for fun. Then I found that I would do it alone sometimes even if my friends weren’t there. In seventh grade I got invited to some bush parties on the weekends, which basically consisted of drinking and smoking weed with a bunch of other, mostly older, people. I started finding that I needed some alcohol to get me through the week. I sometimes would drink cough syrup just to get a buzz. I guess you can imagine where things went from there. I am a risk taker, and I never thought twice about experimenting with whatver was put in front of me. It never seemed dangerous to me. It was just fun and a break from the boredom of everyday life. I quickly learned which drugs could bring me up a few notches and which could help me relax. If you heard of it, I probably used it! I could almost create whatever mood I wanted to be in. But it got out of hand way faster than I’d have imagined. If I wasn’t using something, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt anxious and miserable when I was withdrawing from stuff, so I’d just keep using more.



I’m 17 years old and am going to an alternative high school for students who work better at their own pace.

I’m not using anymore. My mom sent me to a counsellor, and the counsellor referred me to youth detox, and then 8 weeks at a residential treatment centre. It was a long haul, but I’m slowly learning how to deal with life’s frustrations without using. You’ll hear more about my story as you read on.


why Before

we go on about the effects of drugs on your body, brain, and behaviour, let’s talk for a little while about why people would even use them in the first place. M = MAX We’ve heard some people say that only stupid people use drugs, while others use drugs to look like a rebel. We think that it’s not that simple. People use drugs for a whole variety of reasons. If we could pinpoint one common theme running through most drug use, it would probably be this: people use drugs because they think it helps them deal with some of the more difficult parts of life. If that doesn’t make sense to you yet, it will. Keep reading: we’ve tried to answer some of the most common questions kids ask about drugs.


I want to try using drugs because I’m curious about how they’ll make me feel.

The mystery of drugs and how they can transform people’s feelings, moods, and behaviours is pretty interesting. Being curious is natural, and some people are willing to take great risks to satisfy their curiosity. The problem with satisfying your curiosity by trying drugs is that drugs are very unpredictable; you just never know what to expect from




them. Unfortunately, many young people who don’t plan on getting themselves into trouble by using drugs often find themselves knee deep in it.

impress people who aren’t even our friends. This is especially true when we’re young. Between the ages of 12 and 19, friends and fitting in are a huge part of who we are. Suddenly, we might find ourselves doing things that are harmful or risky just to avoid standing out from our friends.

Do I just pretend I’m

M not curious?

No, curiosity is natural, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. We believe that the best way to satisfy your curiosity about drugs is by learning about them instead of trying them. Most people who get really involved with drugs haven’t bothered to learn about them first, and we really don’t want that to happen to you. Please learn about all the risks and effects involved with using drugs before trying them. It could make all the difference.


Some of my friends are starting to drink and use drugs, and I don’t want to feel left out. I want to join them.

I supposed to ditch all of M Am my friends? By refusing to join in your friends drug-use, you are sending a powerful message: that you are confident enough not to be a follower, and that you respect your health and well-being. You don’t need to ditch your friends or even criticize them to make this point. You are allowed to make your own decisions about what you put into your body.


Sometimes I feel kind of depressed, like things will never get better. When I use drugs, it will improve my mood.

We all want to feel accepted by our friends, and sometimes we want to


USE DRUGS? Growing up can be really hard. Have you ever felt really down, when you just can’t seem to shake feelings of sadness or loneliness? What about being really angry at some of the people in your life, like your parents or teachers? When people first try drugs, one thing they experience is a change in mood. All of a sudden, drugs seem like the answer to many of life’s problems! Unfortunately, our feelings are much too complicated to be fixed with a dose of drugs. When we take drugs to avoid unpleasant feelings, what usually happens is that the feelings return after the drugs wear off – only now they are even worse. This is what often leads people to become addicted; when the drugs wear off, people sometimes keep using more to avoid dealing with their true feelings.


Does this mean that I should just walk around feeling depressed and lonely then?

Absolutely not! There are far more constructive and positive ways to deal with sadness, anger, and loneliness than by using drugs. The truth is, everyone experiences these feelings from time to time, but when these feelings are seriously hard to deal with, it’s important to reach out to others who can help you. You can help yourself by learning to cope, too. Visit the Past Articles page on our website at, where you’ll find a list of 25 Healthy Ways to Feel Better. We hope that will help you cope with some of the tough times. WWW.DAFACTS.COM


Drugs seem to be fun. I mean, people don’t use them because they make them feel bad, they use them to feel good -don’t they?

Very good point! Drugs do seem to be a lot of fun, especially when you see drunk and stoned people laugh, party, and carry on like they don’t have a worry in the world. The reason why this happens is that all drugs contain chemicals that, upon entering your body, work their way into the brain. Once they get there, these chemicals change your brain’s natural balance, causing you to experience really extreme feelings: hyper activity, power, happiness, attractive-ness, and relaxation, to name a few.

E So, what’s the problem then? Well, the problem occurs when your brain realizes its natural chemistry has been tampered-with. In order to get back to normal, the brain will change its chemical activity, preventing you from experiencing all of these great feelings naturally in order to overcome the powerful effects of the drugs. When this happens, you’re no longer having fun.

“The question was about fun,

L right? The truth is, drugs are

pretty sneaky. Drugs fool you into thinking they’re fun, and for a while they do a pretty good job of it. I remember being at parties, stoned out of my mind on drugs, thinking


drugs had me cornered when I could no longer

work up the nerve to go to a party and socialize unless

I had just used. life couldn’t get much sweeter. After a couple of weeks of that, drugs were laughing in my face. Drugs had me cornered when I could no longer work up the nerve to go to a party and socialize unless I had just used. They knew they had me when I was up all night, unable to get to sleep, while the drugs were wearing off. That was definitely not fun! Drugs show you a good time at first. Then, once you’re hooked, they just get you to use them – over and over and over.”


DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE E What I didn’t realize is how easy it is to get sucked in. Nobody wakes up one day and discovers he or she is addicted to drugs. Drugs become a part of our lives through a slow process. Each time you move from one stage of drug use to the next, you are doing so for one reason: because you choose to do it. Not because school is a drag, your friends made you do it, or your parents are making life difficult. Here, we will describe in detail all of the different stages of drug use. As you will see, drug use can become so gradually out of control that eventually you don’t even know it is happening.




They are people who don’t use any drugs, including alcohol and tobacco. Their reasons include: • Health reasons • Religious beliefs • Athletic ability • Bad experiences in the past with drugs and alcohol • Lack of interest

This is the stage when someone is trying drugs for the first time. It could be at a party, or at a friend’s house. It is almost always with other people. The “experimental stage” is very brief, and is characterized by: • Curiosity about drugs • A belief that doing a given drug won’t lead to any harm • A social atmosphere

E “...before I knew it, I was struggling through the day until I could smoke some weed. “ PAGE 8


After experimenting with a drug, a person makes a decision about whether or not to use it again. If the decision is not to, the person will go back to nonuse. If the decision is to use it again, the person moves on to…


Yep. My friends pretty much fit every one of those types. Interesting – I wonder how much further they’ll go…





Occurs when drugs and alcohol start to show up more and more often. Or when you notice that you’re thinking about drugs and alcohol and talking about ‘getting high’ or ‘getting drunk’ a lot. Or when you realize that most of your friends are using.

Refers to heavy and excessive drinking or drugging on a sporadic basis, with periods of little or no use in between.


Remember how I told you earlier that I never planned on using drugs as much as I do now? Actually, when I first started using, I totally thought I would just use ‘once in a while,’ but so much for that! What I didn’t realize is how easy it is to get sucked in. Once a week becomes three times a week, ‘only after school’ turns into ‘only during lunch, breaks, and after school,’ and before I knew it, I was struggling through the day until I could smoke some weed. “Occasional” use? Good luck! Other qualities of regular use include: • Using automatically, or without thinking about it • Starting to find it difficult to enjoy social situations without using drugs and alcohol • Some areas of life are becoming affected (e.g. school, family, money) Can you imagine needing to use drugs or alcohol just to get through the day, or even the hour? I guess you can understand now what Liam meant when he said that drugs started to have more control over him than he had over them. I wish I could tell you that it ends there, but unfortunately, it gets even worse. Coming up is the final stage of drug use, and the most desperate: addiction.

Problems associated with binge use include: • Higher levels of aggression • Fighting and violence • Getting into serious trouble when on a binge, such as sexual assault, verbal fights, and domestic violence • Alcohol poisoning or drug overdose, leading to medical treatment • Increased risk of accidents (e.g. impaired driving) Binge use is unpredictable and scary for both the user and friends and family members.

5 ADDICTION This is the most frightening stage of drug and alcohol use. The user experiences an utter sense of desperation to continue using, despite repeated attempts to cut back and despite extremely negative consequences. At this stage: • Drug or alcohol use is the most important thing in the person’s life; other things that were once important, like school, family, sports, and other interests become less important • The person using often has been ‘cut off’ by important people in his or her life; others feel increasingly frustrated and helpless • It is almost impossible to remain committed to school work and family; the user surrounds him or herself with other users that replace former family and friends A person’s emotional and physical health is very affected; depression, mood swings, and serious health problems often emerge.




SO, IF IT’S SO HORRIBLE, WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP USING? The most important factor in determining drug use is your decision to use or not.




PERSONAL FACTORS • Family history of drug use

• Unstable family environment

• Depression

• Highly controlling family environment

• Age (teenagers are more likely to use drugs than other age groups)

• Drug / alcohol use in family members • Lack of strong attachment to adult

• Low self-esteem



• High stress

• Learning disabilities

• Having friends who use drugs

• Personality style (e.g. impulsive, risk- taking, highly

• Struggling with school

sensitive/emotional, etc.)

• Having problems fitting in with peers

• Excessive Anxiety Look at some of the reasons people stay “stuck” on drugs, even when it’s no longer fun: • Drug use provides an instant group of “friends” • Drugs give us an excuse to avoid responsibilities • As people grow more and more dependent, reality becomes harder to deal with; drugs offer an escape • It’s a way to numb oneself from painful events • To prove to parents they have no power • Acting out of self-hate • Powerful cravings that only subside with drug use








• Taking too much of a drug/alcohol at one time (i.e. binging) or taking smaller doses more often • Taking a prescribed drug after it is no longer needed (like sleeping pills or pain killers) • Taking a drug that has been prescribed to somebody else (e.g. Ritalin, often prescribed for ADD and ADHD, has a stimulating effect on people who do not suffer from those conditions and is therefore abused quite often.) • Taking a drug to cope with everyday stress

People can become addicted to things other than drugs and alcohol. Both illegal and legal drugs can be abused and harmful. Let’s take a look at some other addictions: • Sex

• Shopping

• Food

• Dangerous sports

• Dieting

• Social Media

• Gambling

• Video games

• Exercise

• Television

• Combining drugs



• Substances such as Psychoactive drugs will change feelings, thoughts and behaviour (ie. marijuana, alcohol, heroin, meth, cocaine, and mushrooms) • Appropriate use of prescribed medication will affect you physically and mentally, such as taking away the pain of illness or injury, or managing a mental illness. • Even substances considered ‘natural’ that come from plants (ie. marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and tobacco) will affect your thoughts and behaviour WWW.DAFACTS.COM



Substance Abuse & Mental Health You’re a teenager, and you probably want more freedom than you had as a kid.

Freedom means more time with friends, and more opportunities to experiment. This isn’t just due to peer pressure. Far below the surface, your brain is remodeling itself to encourage you to push your boundaries, become more independent, and seek out more excitement. Adolescence is a period of intensive changes in the brain. One of the main changes that occurs during adolescence “ is a change in the dopamine system of the brain. Dopamine is a naturally produced chemical that regulates emotions, motivation, and produces feelings of pleasure. During adolescence, dopamine levels are lower than at other points in life. This is one of the reasons why teenagers sometimes feel bored and unmotivated. So, teens who are feeling kind of “blah,” are more likely to seek out risky situations to help rev themselves back up. This tells the brain to release more dopamine - and in teens, when dopamine does get released, it’s a bigger load than in children or adults. Drinking alcohol and using drugs is a common way that teenagers try to change their state of mind. Alcohol and drugs both target the “reward system” of the brain by dumping a load of dopamine into this system. Like the name suggests, when we use these substances, we are “rewarded” by feelings of pleasure, positive emotion, and power that are more exaggerated than we would naturally feel. This trains our brain to pester us to seek out and repeat the behaviour (in this case the drug or alcohol use) again and again to experience the same good feelings. When we look at drug and alcohol use from a brain perspective, we can really see how easy it is to get hooked! Let’s look at alcohol, for example. Alcohol works on the brain in two key ways: it increases the release of GABA,


a neurotransmitter that makes us feel more relaxed, and it indirectly causes the release of our friend dopamine. By driving up those dopamine levels in your brain, alcohol makes you feel great - funnier, more interesting, and more important. This makes you want to keep drinking to get more dopamine release. Of course, there is a twist: these good feelings come at an important cost. In order to accommodate the release of all this dopamine, your other brain chemicals must alter themselves, and this can create feelings of depression. Marijuana has a different relationship to dopamine from alcohol. In a recent research study, heavy pot smokers showed lower positive emotional activity in the brain and higher negative emotional reactions. This research suggested that smoking pot makes our brains less sensitive and responsive to dopamine, meaning that the dopamine that is released by the brain fails to produce positive emotions it would normally, increasing the likelihood of depression and anxiety. We know that the earlier you start drinking and using drugs, the greater your chance is for addiction and mental health issues later in life. Yet, that seems so far away when you’re just a teenager trying to have some fun. When you are bored and unmotivated, how can you satisfy your craving for more excitement without using alcohol and drugs and setting yourself up for more problems than you’ve bargained for? Look for natural ways to spike dopamine. Exercise of all sorts, listening to music, learning new creative skills and taking on new challenges all increase dopamine naturally. We want you to understand that adolescence is one of the most vulnerable and active periods of time for your brain, and we hope that you can find your unique way of getting through this stage safely!


DEPENDENCY: The higher your tolerance becomes on a substance, the more you require to reach that ‘high.’ The more substance you require, the more you are at a higher risk for depedency and overdose. What are some of the signs of a physical dependency to a substance? Physical dependency occurs when your body is so used to drugs that it gets really sick without them. Withdrawal, the body’s reaction to not getting the drug, is a sign of physical dependency. Withdrawal symptoms depend on the drug. For stimulant drugs like cocaine and crystal meth, withdrawal usually entails depression, lack of energy, and fatigue. For depressant drugs, like alcohol and heroin, the withdrawal symptoms are usually shaking, sweating, headaches, and nausea. Withdrawal effects usually last up to a week. Tolerance is also a sign of physical dependency. This is when the same amount of the drug that used to get you high/drunk is no longer enough, and your body needs larger or more frequent doses.

What are some of the signs of a psychological dependency on a substance? Psychological dependency means that while your body might not necessarily need drugs, you have trouble coping with everyday life without drugs. Drugs start to be used to manage stress, deal with boredom and give you a lift in your mood. Without drugs, anxiety, irritability, and emotional flatness is experienced.

What are the potential risks of the following methods of taking drugs by injection? Infections such as HIV and Hepatitis C are easily transmitted through sharing needles used to inject drugs. Overdose is also a risk, as the purity of street drugs is often not known to the user, and injection delivers the drugs directly into the bloodstream.

How does doing drugs affect school? Drugs affect school in all kinds of ways. First of all, the time spent doing drugs, being high and trying to get drugs doesn’t leave a lot of time left for going to class regularly and doing homework. Also, drugs interrupt our ability to concentrate and retain information, making it difficult to learn and remember important material for tests. Most people with problem drug use start to notice their grades dropping; some people stop going to school altogether when drugs start to take over.

Do drugs really kill brain cells? There is no doubt that drug use alters brain chemistry and can slow down normal processes, but there are only two types of drugs that actually kill brain cells beyond repair: inhalants (gasoline, solvents, glue, etc.) and alcohol. Yes, it’s true: alcohol is not the fun-and-games all those beer commercials would like you to believe it is. Again, it is not usually one factor that is the cause of drug use. Usually, it is a combination of two or more factors from each list. As a general rule: encouraging environment + at risk person + access to drugs = problem drug use.





DEPRESSION IS MORE THAN JUST A BAD MOOD While it is normal to feel discouraged and frustrated during adolescence, when we are depressed, we feel trapped in our own minds. Depression in youth is more difficult to identify, because, as a teenager, you are already going through so many changes - and the social, academic and family pressures that teens go through can make a low mood seem justified.

If you are wondering if you might be experiencing depression, here are are PAGE 14


5 things to look for:

You feel lower than you have felt before, and the feelings are sticking around. Emotions such as guilt, anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loneliness, and shame are typical in depressed people. Unlike “bad moods,” which can come and go, these feelings persist beyond two weeks.

You feel numb. Many people who experience depression do not find their emotions to be intense - rather, they feel numb, flat and foggy. Their most noticeable depression symptoms are lack of motivation and no energy.

Your body feels different. You may experience headaches or general aches and pains that you can’t explain. You may feel tired all the time or have problems eating or sleeping. You may unexpectedly gain or lose weight.

Your thoughts are harsh. It seems like there is a running commentary in your head of self-criticism. You might find that you think negatively about many things and people. Additionally, you may have a hard time concentrating. Depressed people find themselves saying: “why bother?” and “what’s the point?” When things become really bad, you might even have suicidal thoughts.

Your behaviour has changed. You might be withdrawing from others, crying easily, or showing less interest in sports, games, or other fun activities that you normally enjoy. You might over-react and have sudden outbursts of anger or tears over minor issues. Do any of these sound familiar? You’re not alone: at least one out of eight teenagers struggles with depression. Sometimes, the cause of depression is a mystery, while other times it can be linked to something going on in a teenager’s life. Family conflict, bullying, social politics, pressures in school and shame about sexual orientation are all known contributors to depression in youth.


Teens who struggle with depression can experience other serious problems, such as poor grades, skipping classes, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Depression is treatable. However, it might not go away on its own. When you feel helpless and powerless, keep in mind that these are a few things that you can do.

Ask for help! Maybe you’re holding out to see if you start to feel better without any help. The fact is that an untreated episode of depression can stick around for months. Talk to an adult that you trust. A parent, a teacher, a school counsellor, coach, or your doctor. Tell them how you’ve been feeling, and let them know that you think you might be depressed. Depression can be treated, and treatment such as medication or counselling is often effective. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help right away. Suicidal thoughts are usually associated with problems that can be treated, believe it or not. Reach out to someone you trust to let them know that you need help - and if you don’t feel comfortable telling someone you know, you can always contact your local crisis centre.

Don’t believe everything you think. When we’re depressed, our thoughts are harsh. We call ourselves names (loser, failure, ugly, stupid…). We find faults in everyone and everything. These thoughts seem accurate, but in fact, depression distorts our perceptions. Thoughts ≠ truths.

Exercise. Any type of movement that gets your heart pumping can help your mood. Walking, dancing, really anything! If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself, try the 5-minute experiment. Aim to exercise for 5 minutes! If you decide to prolong it, great - but if not, even 5 minutes is helpful! When we are feeling depressed, we sometimes assume that we are beyond help. If you feel this way, we encourage you to reach out. You are worth it! PAGE 15

Your Friend’s Substance Abuse: When you approach a friend with your concerns, you will want to come across as supportive and non-judgmental.

If you are worried about a friend’s substance use, you may have thought about bringing it up, but you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. That’s understandable - you don’t want to risk losing the friendship! When you approach a friend with your concerns, you will want to come across as supportive and non-judgmental. Your friend might or might not be ready to change. He might not even be ready to admit that she his substance use is a problem! But if you approach these conversations with sensitivity, he will start to see you a person whom he can trust and open up to. Keep in mind these essential tips for talking to friends about their drug and alcohol use.




Approach her when she is sober. Not only will she remember the

conversation better, but she will also be in a better headspace to reflect and absorb the concerns you are expressing.


You’re not trying to convince him that he has a problem.

If you relentlessly point out to your friend all of the evidence that he has an addiction, you will almost certainly put him on the defence. A better approach is to share an observation - for example, “it seems like every time you drink lately you black out.” Follow this up with an expression of concern, such as “Are things going all right?”


Don’t make assumptions. You might think you know why your friend is using, and

you may even be onto something. But it is your friend - not you - who is the real expert on her life. Treat her that way! For more insight into why your friend smokes weed everyday before school, you might ask her: “what do you like about it?” or “how does it help you?” This helps her to see that you are trying to understand her problem from her perspective, and makes it more likely that she will open up to you.


Emphasize specific consequences - with compassion.

Alcohol and drug use comes with consequences. Share with your friend what consequences you’ve noticed. Be specific, but gentle. You may notice that your friend has failed a class or gotten into a fight at a party, and ask if this is due to his substance use. Prefacing these observations with “I’m worried that…” or “I wonder…” helps remind your friend that you are bringing this up because you care.


Understand that change is dependent on readiness. When you raise

your concerns with your friend, it will start to become clear if she shares your concern about her problem - and if she is ready to do something about it. If your friend is ready to act, you can offer to help her find the help that she needs - counselling or other resources. If she does not see her use as a problem, you can continue to relay the message that while you see her substance use as a problem, you care about her. This way, if and when she is ready to seek help, she knows that she can come to you for support. WWW.DAFACTS.COM



CONCURRENT Submitted by: Julie Green M.ED. E Have you ever heard about Concurrent Disorders before? M Concurrent….what? L Yes, I heard about it a few months ago from my doctor when I went to see him because I couldn’t sleep and had basically no energy. All I wanted to do was stay in bed, because I didn’t see a point to getting up. My doctor asked me a bunch of questions about my appetite, my motivation, and my moods. It was tough for me to talk about…but when he diagnosed me with depression, even I had to admit it made sense. Concurrent Disorder is just a really medical way of explaining what happens when you are using drugs or drinking heavily AND have depression, anxiety, or some other type of concern.

M Why do they use the term Concurrent Disorder? L My doctor knows that I recently quit using crystal meth. He is not sure if my sleeping problems, lack of energy, constant worrying, and depression are symptoms of withdrawal from crystal meth or signs of another issue that may be surfacing, like depression or anxiety. My doctor says the symptoms of withdrawal look very similar to the onset of a psychological issue, making it difficult to decide what behaviour is related to what cause – especially when they show-up together.

E Oh…now I get it. When you explain it that way, it makes more sense. M I never knew it took the body that long to withdraw from a drug like crystal meth! E That’s the first time I have thought that “not being able to sleep” could be a sign of something else, like depression. There are a number of people I know who have difficulty getting to sleep at night and are feeling tired all of the time, too. Does this mean these are withdrawal symptoms from their alcohol and other drug use, or a sign of a mental health issue? hard to tell. You can never really know unless you go see a counsellor or a doctor. For example, my new doctor told LmeIt’s because I have a family background of addictions, and my mom was hooked on sleeping pills for a long time, I am more at-risk of developing a mental health issue. That surprised me. I knew because of my family background I was at-risk of becoming addicted to alcohol or other drugs, but I did not think this also meant I was at risk for mental health concerns.

M I don’t get it: What makes your doctor think you are at-risk of developing a mental health problem because your mom was addicted to sleeping pills?


My doctor knows that 90% of the time the addiction problems show up first. See, many people who experience something like depression, anxiety, or delusions will try to cope with it by using drugs, because sometimes the effects of drug use help to hide some of its unpleasant symptoms. For example, my doctor suspects that my mother started to use sleeping pills to help her escape the terrible insomnia she was experiencing, not knowing at the time that her sleeplessness was related to her undiagnosed anxiety and depression.

M Isn’t your mom concerned about being diagnosed with clinical depression? PAGE 18



Actually, my mother is relieved. My mother is happy to finally know what the real problem is. She has never really felt very energetic or happy since she was a teenager. It concerned her when she noticed me starting to feel the same way. This is why she insisted I see the doctor.


Do your teachers know you have a Concurrent Disorder? How are they responding?


Yes, my teachers know I have a Concurrent Disorder. My doctor has given me some information on Concurrent Disorders to share with them, about stimulants and mental health. This has helped my teachers to understand that when someone has been using alcohol and other drugs, it may be difficult to determine what has caused the depression a person is experiencing. The teachers understand stimulants like crystal meth cause the release of the hormones called dopamine and serotonin in the brain and, over time, the body loses its ability to release them, which makes people feel depressed. They now realize symptoms of depression can last from 6 months to 2 years, depending on how long a person has used the drugs, and how much stress is in his or her life.

E What do you think about being labelled as someone experiencing depression?

L Well, first of all, my doctor has reassured me I am normal and okay. Most people will be depressed at some time in their lives as a normal reaction to high levels of stress, disappointments, loss, changes in relationships or home situations, or withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs. My doctor told me a recent survey showed 40% of youth have felt really depressed. Drugs and alcohol are one of many ways to deal with depression, which explains why so many people experiencing a problem with drugs also happen to be depressed. Up to 50% of people who are suffering from depression are also abusing drugs or alcohol!

M Is there a different type of treatment for depression depending on the cause?


No, treatment for depression is the same whether it is caused by withdrawal symptoms related to alcohol or other drug use or a mental health issue.

E What are the signs of clinical depression? L It’s normal to feel bummed out once in a while, but when M I guess when you’re going through withdrawal it’s tough you feel really crappy and it won’t pass after a couple of weeks, it becomes really hard to get through the day, let alone go to school, have fun with friends, and talk to your parents. Anything that requires energy becomes a real challenge. For me, I just wanted to stay in bed all day, and sometimes for no apparent reason I’d feel like crying. I knew it wasn’t just an average bad mood when I realized I had stopped getting enjoyment out of anything.

M What are you doing to help with your depression? L My doctor has prescribed an anti-depressant for the

short-term to stabilize me emotionally, since I was feeling so depressed I was becoming suicidal.

to tell whether the symptoms you’re experiencing are because of the drugs or because of the depression. How do you know?


You don’t know until you see your doctor. But you can still try and be on the lookout for some of the symptoms we’ve been talking about, especially if you come from a family with mental health or addiction concerns. My doctor told me teens who come from families who have schizophrenia should realize there is no “safe dosage” of using drugs, especially drugs like marijuana, because even a small dose may cause the onset of this illness. Some people think of it as an allergic type of response to the marijuana. My doctor says anyone with a family history of mental illness such as schizophrenia, depression or anxiety is advised to avoid using marijuana.

E You didn’t tell us about that before. L I know. Feeling suicidal is not easy to talk about. E Wow. I didn’t know that using marijuana could be such a M I’m glad you told us. Are the antidepressants helping you risk for my mental health. I only thought harder drugs like to feel better?


Taking anti-depressants has been an important first step for my healing. I know taking medication is not necessarily right for everyone, but it is for me right now.I hope that one day I am able to feel okay and manage stress without them. Medication is one part of my holistic recovery plan. I see a counsellor once a week to talk things out and work on how I cope with stress. It really helps me to understand that I can get through this. I am also drinking lots of water, eating healthy, exercising, learning relaxation techniques, and have reduced my school work load.


LSD and crystal meth were risky to use. I’ve heard those drugs can cause short-term or long-term “substanceinduced psychosis,” which may look similar to schizophrenia.

M I wonder how many people out there using drugs know about concurrent disorders?


I bet not that many. It’s hard enough to be honest about drug use, let alone things like depression and anxiety. It seems like we need to have conversations like this more often, and with more people.



Concurrent Disorders: When substance abuse occurs alongside a psychological or mental health disorder, such as anxiety, depression or psychosis

DEPRESSION: an emotional state characterized by feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, and sadness that persist for longer than two weeks

ANXIETY: a state of feeling uneasy, apprehensive or worried about what might happen, often to an excessive and irrational degree


a false, persistent, belief that is not confirmed by fact or reality


a chronic inability to sleep


prescription medication used to treat depression by effecting neurotransmitters in the brain

DOPAMINE: thought to be the main chemical messenger in the reward centres of the brain, which promotes the experience of pleasure; dopamine production in the brain is increased by various drugs

SEROTONIN: a neurotransmitter than can be produced naturally by the brain, or synthetically through drugs, that regulates mood and produces feelings of well-being

SCHIZOPHRENIA: a mental illness characterized by various symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behaviour, or paranoia

SUBSTANCE INDUCED PSYCHOSIS: hallucinations or delusions that occur during withdrawal or acute intoxication; usually it is brief, but early recognition is very important PAGE 20


of youth have felt really depressed. Depression affects people of all ages and is the second most serious health concern in the world.


Suicidal feelings are not easy to talk about.

JULY Symptoms of depression can last from 6 months to 2 years depending on how long a person has used the drugs, & how much stress is in his or her life. WWW.DAFACTS.COM



ADDICTION VS ABUSE Another description for ‘drug addiction’ can also be referred to as ‘substance abuse’. There is a very large variety of substances. Some can be obtained at a pharmacy, and are legal. Some are harder to obtain and are illegal. Some are liquid, some are powder. Some can be inhaled, some can be ingested. There are many facts about all the different substances you see day-to-say, and the following pages will break down all these different substances for you. See how these drugs can effect you physically and emotionally, as well as how addictive some of them can be.










You mean cigarettes are a drug?!

You bet they are. Not only that, but they are the most addictive drug, and cause more long term health problems than any other drug. Interestingly, while adults are finally starting to smoke less, young people have been smoking more and more. In fact, the number of teenagers smoking has been steadily rising over the past ten years.

lungs, blood, and brain. Then, the nicotine starts to distribute itself to other body tissues and levels of nicotine in the brain decline. Thirty minutes later, the nicotine has left the brain, leaving the smoker ready for another cigarette. It happens very fast. Nicotine, as a powerfully addictive drug, causes three predictable behaviours in smokers:

Why? Well, despite loads of convincing information telling us how harmful cigarettes are for our health, to most young people these risks seem too far off in the future to worry about now. Unlike other drugs, the harm from nicotine shows up later on in life, making the need to quit seem much less urgent.


• It makes them want more. Because the desire to get more outweighs logic, people will continue to smoke despite knowing that it is harmful to their health. They will also spend increasing amounts of money on cigarettes – from hundreds to thousands of dollars a year per smoker.

So I’ll quit later, when I’m older or something.

That’s the idea that a lot of young people have. “I’ll quit before the wrinkles, the discoloured skin, the breathing problems and the lung cancer have a chance to set in.” The problem with that? Nicotine is addictive, which means it is extremely difficult from a psychological aspect, though not impossible, to quit smoking. In fact, most addicted smokers began smoking as teenagers! Basically, the younger you are when you start, the more ingrained the habit becomes and the harder it is to quit. When a person smokes tobacco (by far and away the most common form of nicotine use), nicotine is absorbed very quickly into the blood through the lungs and passes within seconds to the brain. Therefore, very soon after having your first drag of a cigarette, you can feel its effects. Within ten minutes, there is a peak concentration of nicotine in the


There are a lot of different methods used for quitting smoking. The truth of the matter is, quitting smoking is painful and difficult no matter which way you slice it. Bearing the cravings and stress, especially at the beginning, is the most important and difficult step. Quitting smoking is difficult for a couple of reasons. So far, we’ve been talking mainly about the physical aspects of the addiction. Quitting can be very difficult, for example, if you are used to having a cigarette after lunch, or in the smoke pit with your friends. Smoking can provide a way to socialize and connect with others, even if it’s only a surface connection. All of a sudden, you may not know what to do with your hands, or you may find yourself feeling really antsy in situations during which you would normally be smoking. These are all common struggles experienced by people trying to quit, and it’s normal to be tempted.



nicotine Effects on the body, brain, and behaviour

• Tolerance. If you were to smoke for the first time, you would likely experience dizziness and nausea. If you continued to smoke, these effects would go away within days. Tolerance to the other effects of nicotine develops even more rapidly, and smokers will increase their dosage and frequency of smoking in order to still feel the effects of nicotine. So if you started out just having drags of your friend’s cigarette, you would probably go on to having one all to yourself; first bumming one off another person, and then gradually buying your own. When a smoker stops smoking, he or she will quickly go into withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine are:

• Adolescents who are smokers are twice as likely as non-smoking adolescents to suffer from an episode of major depression, and teens with long-term depression are more likely to be smokers than teens without depression

Cravings (i.e. powerful urges to use the drug)

• Smoking causes lung cancer and

Irritability (i.e. everyone and everything is getting on your nerves)

chronic lung diseases, like emphysema

Preoccupation (i.e. you can’t stop thinking about how badly you need a smoke)

• Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by increasing heart rate

It’s no wonder, then, that most people find it so difficult to stop.

and blood pressure, creating extra stress on the heart • Smoking effects circulation, making the skin of smokers thinner and more wrinkled • Smoking can delay the physical and mental development in the fetuses of pregnant women






e cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that vapourize liquid nicotine, so that the user is inhaling a fine mist, not unlike the fog you see at some music concerts. The devices look eerily similar to a cigarette, right down to the glowing tip. However, because no tobacco leaves are actually being burned in the process, there is no smoky smell, no ash, and, in fact, no actual fire. Liquid nicotine contains fewer harmful chemicals than tobacco, and proponents of this method suggest that “vaping” ecigarettes poses fewer harmful effects to the body than conventional cigarette smoking. So, all of the cool factor and half the harm? It seems like a no-brainer! But, while this slim, misting, gadget may not require a match, it has generated a fiery controversy. On one hand, those already addicted to tobacco have a really hard time quitting, and often relapse. At the same time this had led some people to view e-cigarettes as a safer

alternative to typical tobacco smoking, and maybe even a way to gently quit. However, e-cigarettes still do contain nicotine – an addictive chemical substance – and the actual safety of this method is a bit, well, foggy. Equally foggy is the question of whether people who switch to e-cigarettes actually end up quitting. Parents and youth need to know that nicotine can impact brain development in children and teens, regardless of whether it is smoked or vapourized. Furthermore, some ecigarettes have candy flavouring, which may keep kids coming back for more. The bottom line is: if you don’t already smoke, there is no reason to start “vaping” e-cigs. If you do smoke and are struggling to quit, talk to your doctor before prescribing e-cigarettes to yourself.

The devices look eerily similar to a cigarette, right down to the glowing tip



flavoured tobacco 3 Forbidden fruit? It’s small, it’s minty, it’s sweet, and it is drawing controversy across Canada. It could be in your pocket as you read this! While your candy canes are still safe (phew!), flavoured tobacco cigarettes and cigarillos are now prohibited in the province of Ontario. Other provinces in Canada have expressed alarm that tobacco is now being marketed to be more palatable to youth. After all, teenagers are picky eaters, so it makes sense that they’d be picky smokers, too. Tobacco that comes in sweet and minty flavours make it that much easier for youth who are starting to smoke to enjoy the flavour, and then become hooked. In fact, a recent survey by Health Canada revealed that flavoured tobacco use amongst Alberta youth is extensive. Menthol cigarettes in particular are sought out by teenagers, as the minty taste masks the naturally acrid tobacco flavour. While fruity tobacco may taste as harmless as bubble gum, don’t be fooled: the nicotine content in the cigarettes is the same as the unflavoured variety, with all of the same health risks. While it remains to be seen whether other provinces will follow Ontario’s lead in banning these cigarettes, it speaks to how important it is for young tobacco consumers to be aware and make informed choices. We can only rely on our own good sense when purchasing products and making choices about what to consume. Just say Know!


It could be in your pocket as you read this




T R E N D I N G: Past investigations into the nature of synthetic cannabis, Health Canada has issued a warning about the drug’s potential dangers. Synthetic cannabis is essentially marijuana plant materials that have been sprayed with artificial cannabinoids (in other words, chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana). These $12-16 foil packages are typically sold in retail outlets specializing in smoking paraphernalia (known as head shops) and even convenience stores. This substance is best known as Spice or K2, although other catchy names include Happy Shaman, Grape Xtreme, Project 420, Fusion Atomic Green, and Kick Ass White Rabbit. Despite the warning, “Not Intended For Human Consumption” on all these packets, these products are marketed as 'smokeable herbal incense,' 'exotic herbal incense,' 'legal highs,' or as alternatives to marijuana, and are believed to be smoked for their cannabis-like effects.

B U Y E R B E W A R E: According to experts who include chemists and physicians, synthetic cannabis is much more dangerous to one’s health than natural, and should be avoided at all costs. Despite this, shop owners have been caught on hidden cameras assuring buyers that it is completely safe to use. The bottom line is that because the substances are not controlled or regulated. Nobody is able to determine the safety of what goes into these slick foil pouches. That is the same risk with all designer drugs: you just don’t know what you’re going to get! And what do some people get when they use this substance? There have been reports of psychosis (extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and delusional beliefs), seizures, and agitation. Did someone say buzz kill?

S T A Y I N G S A F E: No high is worth the risk to your brain and body. The easy access and edgy packaging can make getting and using seem too easy to pass up, but evidence on synthetic cannabis points to its danger and unreliability. Who would you rather take advice from when it comes to safe consumption of substances: the retailer, or a scientist?

Aside from THC (the active chemical in marijuana that gets you ‘high’) there are over 400 other chemicals, many of which are also found in tobacco smoke. Prolonged use of marijuana has the same effect on the lungs as smoking cigarettes




marijuana The bottom line is that because the substances are not controlled or regulated, nobody is able to determine the safety of what goes into these slick foil pouches.

Short Term Effects: • Increase in heart rate, possibly leading to anxiety & paranoia • Distorted concept of space & time •Decrease in concentration skills & short term memory capacity

Long Term Effects:

• Increase in appetite and weight gain

• Marijuana contains many of the same chemicals found in tobacco smoke. People who smoke marijuana over a long period of time often develop the same breathing problems as smokers do. Their risk of developing lung cance is significantly higher than nonmarijuana smokers

• Forgetfulness, losing one’s train of thought easily.

• THC can also damage the cells and tissues in the body that help protect people from disease

• Feeling tired after the high wears off

• Lack of motivation • Difficulty processing new information

Sometimes I feel like weed is my best friend. It calms me down. When I’m feeling lonely and discouraged, it gives me a boost. When I am feeling down on myself and critical, it helps me see the positive side. I like myself more when I’m a bit buzzed. But it’s like a friend who has kind of taken over my life. I feel awkward now when I go to soccer practice and see my old friends. It’s tempting to avoid it, because then I don’t have to deal with my coach who is always on my back for missing too many practices, but then I think about how much I used to love it and I feel guilty. And then there are my grades. I always seem to put off doing my homework, and I am now failing social studies because of not handing in assignments. The downside to smoking weed is that I’m burnt out some of the time and can’t focus on school.



Marijuana is the most common and mainstream of all the “illicit” drugs; it is smoked by a wide range of people of different ages, backgrounds, and professions. • Marijuana is most commonly rolled and smoked in a “joint” or “doob.” It can also be smoked through a pipe or a bong; smoking marijuana through a water bong is considerably less harmful to your lungs • The main active chemical in marijuana is THC. The THC potency of marijuana has increased significantly since the 1970’s. Many hydroponically grown forms of marijuana have a very high (up to 20%) THC content • There are over 400 additional chemicals in marijuana

Marijuana is frequently smoked socially; therefore, people who smoke pot tend to smoke as a group activity. Marijuana use can negatively impact a person’s life, particularly in the areas of school, work, sports, and motivation.





cocaine & crack


Cocaine, out of all the drugs I took, was the most instantly transforming. One snort and I felt like a different person. I couldn’t sit still, I was talking a mile a minute, and I felt full of confidence and importance. Twenty minutes later, I landed back on earth with a crash. All I could think about was how I could get more so I could get that feeling back. I switched to crack after a while because it was cheaper and I could buy it right on the street. Later, when I started to use it all the time, I’d be really irritable and depressed when I came down. It took almost a year for the depression to go away after I stopped using.

Psychological Effects: • Paranoia & Confusion • Cocaine Psychosis: losing touch with reality, loss of interest in friends and family, self-harm • Crashing: feeling tired after the high wears off • Increase in appetite and weight gain

Cocaine is a white powder that comes from the leaves of the coca plant. “Coke” can be snorted, smoked, or injected. It is a stimulant with a very short high that lasts between 5-20 minutes. Crack is a smokable form of cocaine that is highly addictive even after only a few uses. Crack and cocaine are both extremely powerful drugs that take over all aspects of an addict’s life. Both drugs can become habit forming quite easily as well we physically and psychologically addictive.

Use/abuse of cocaine and crack will cause:

Over time, and/or larger doses:

• Increased blood pressure and heart rate

• Aggressive, hostile, erratic behaviour

• Rapid breathing

• Hallucinations

• Constriction of blood vessels

• Rapid and irregular heartbeat

• Decreased appetite • Sweating

• Increased paranoia • Impotence

• Restlessness, insomnia • Paranoia, anxiety

• Depression

• Dilated pupils PAGE 30




Heroin is either smoked or injected, and is extremely addictive. People who use heroin become dependent very quickly, as they are drawn to the rush of pleasure they experience when using. However, the withdrawal effects of heroin use are very painful (anyone see the movie Trainspotting?), making it a really difficult drug to quit. Once people become addicted to heroin, they continue to use–mostly to prevent themselves from feeling sick. Heroin is a depressant, and therefore slows down all the processes in the mind and body.


Never did it… I was too scared I’d never get off it, like everyone else I know who tried it.

• Slower breathing • Flushed skin

Because of the profound physical effects of using heroin, death by overdose is a major possibility. This happens because breathing slows down to the point where it stops altogether. This can happen with a single dose, meaning someone can die of a heroin overdose the very first time they use! Unfortunately, the composition of street heroin varies widely, and the purity of the drug is never known to the user. Therefore, it is very possible for the user to receive a dose that is much higher than expected.

• Pinpoint pupils • Nausea and vomiting • Constipation • Nodding of the head (looks like nodding off to sleep) • Decreased ability to feel pain • Increased risk of contracting Hepatitis A and C, and HIV, through infected needles

• Dreamy, pleasant states

Withdrawal from heroin is miserable, but not life threatening. Physically, it feels like a very bad flu: fatigue, sweating, aching, and diarrhea. These symptoms go away after about a week.


• Pyschologic addiction


• User becomes preoccupied with how to get more heroin PAGE 31




Nicknamed the “love drug,” ecstasy is known for the feelings of warmth and empathy experienced while on the drug, as well as the sense of energy and alertness it produces in users. The reason ecstasy produces such a noticeable high is because it stimulates production of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that controls mood. However, it doesn’t take the brain too long to figure out it is out of balance, so it reacts by preventing serotonin from being absorbed by the brain. Because serotonin is needed to keep our moods balanced, in its absence we feel down and depressed.

All of the above about ecstasy is true, but there’s one more thing: ‘E’ is what introduced me to all the other ‘club drugs.’ Read on for more details…


Negative Effects: Users often experience jitters and teeth clenching. Overdose can lead to hypertension and kidney failure.

Physical Effects: • Increased heart rate, hyperactivity, excess energy

Dangerous Combinations with Other Drugs: MDMA can be dangerous if taken in conjunction with antidepressants that are MAO inhibitors. It also should not be taken with alcohol.

• Dehydration • Nausea and loss of apetite • Cleanching of jaw muscles

How MDMA Works in the Brain: MDMA increases levels of serotonin and makes it more available to the brain, which leads to the notorious mood boosting properties of the drug. However, repeated use of ecstasy leads to possible serotonin loss, which feels like chronic depression. Furthermore, ecstasy use – especially repeated use of high doses – has been responsible for a number of psychiatric/psychological problems, such as panic attacks and paranoia.


Mental Effects: • Mild distortions of perception • Psychological dependence • Withdrawal from ecstacy causes fatigue and depression


hallucinagins 8 Types of hallucinogens: (ACID) is one of the most common hallucinogens. It is the longest-acting of the hallucinogens; the drug remains active in the body for up to 12 hours. The physical effects of LSD include numbness, muscle weakness, trembling, and often nausea. Slight bodily pain is also common. Despite widespread rumours, LSD is not stored in the spinal fluid for months, and does not remain hidden in any organ. It also does not cause long-term damage to the brain. Short-term side effects are tolerance and exhaustion. However, there are definite risks involved with taking LSD. People who are on acid experience things not as they really are, including visions, sounds, and feelings. Therefore, driving, swimming, and any other activity which requires a grasp on reality can be potentially hazardous and/or life threatening. Another unpleasant effect of taking LSD is the high state of anxiety and isolation one might develop while using (often called a “bad trip”). (MAGIC MUSHROOMS) has very similar, although slightly milder effects as those of LSD. As with LSD, the most negative effects caused by mushrooms are the intense feelings of anxiety and/or depression that sometimes develop while using.

I was at a party when a good

E friend of mine took

ketamine. At first she seemed kind of dizzy and disconnected, then really into the music and kind of in her own world, and then really anxious and seemingly weirded out. I think she might have taken too much because she said that she was really nauseous and was on the verge of throwing up. After it was over, she said she would never take it again; it was too powerful and strange. an experience involving the apparent perception of something not present.

(PCP/ANGEL DUST) (SPECIAL K) are frequently taken for the euphoria and stimulation they produce. At the same time, they also cause a drunken-like state in their users, characterized by poor coordination, slurred speech, and drowsiness. At higher doses, it leads to a detachment from one’s environment, often noticed as a consistent blank stare. PCP users frequently find themselves in trouble with the law as a result of their poor reflexes and judgement, and general state of agitation. WWW.DAFACTS.COM

Hallucinogens are drugs that drastically alter one’s thought processes, mood, and perceptions. At high doses, these drugs cause users to perceive an experience as actually happening when, in fact, it is not. At lower doses, they cause milder distortions in perception, thought, and emotion, but not imagined events. The experience is determined by the user’s previous drug experience, expectations, and the context in which the drug is taken, as well as the amount of the dose.






Some examples of inhalants: • Common household items, such as paint thinners, cleaning fluids, gasoline, glue, white-out, and felt-tip markers • Aerosols, which are sprays that contain propellants and solvents and include spray paint, deodorant, vegetable oils, and fabric protector • Gases, such as nitrous oxide, butane lighters, propane tanks, whipped cream dispensers, and refrigerants • Nitrites, which relax the muscles and are sold on the street as “poppers” or “snappers”

How are inhalants used: Inhalants are breathed in through the nose or mouth in a variety of ways, such as: • “Sniffing” or “snorting” fumes from containers • Spraying aerosols directly into the nose and mouth • “Bagging” – sniffing or inhaling fumes from substances sprayed into a paper or plastic bag • “Huffing” from an inhalant-soaked rag stuffed in the mouth • Inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide

Signs of Inhalant Abuse: • Chemical odours on the breath or clothing • Paint or other stains on face, hands, or clothes • Hidden empty spray or solvent containers and chemical-soaked rags • Drunk or disoriented appearance • Slurred speech • Nausea or loss of appetite • Inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression


Who can use inhalants: Because inhalants are usually found in the household, they attract younger children (under age 12), or adults who cannot afford the price of alcohol or street drugs. Inhalant abuse reaches its peak during the seventh to ninth grades, and can be a gateway to abusing other kinds of drugs. Poverty, a history of child abuse, poor grades, and dropping out of school are all associated with inhalant abuse.

Risks of inhaling: Within minutes of inhalation, the user feels effects similar to those produced by alcohol, including lack of coordination, dizziness, euphoria, and difficulty speaking. Intoxication from inhalant use only lasts a few minutes, so abusers often try to keep the high going by continuing to inhale repeatedly over the course of several hours – which is very dangerous. With repeated inhalations, abusers can lose consciousness and even die. Using inhalants can lead to uncontrollable use. Some of the symptoms that long-term users exhibit are weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of co-ordination, irritability, and depression.

Medical consequences of inhalant abuse: Inhalants are very dangerous, and in some situation can lead to brain damage, organ damage or death caused by choking. Inhalants damage brain cells beyond repair, and therefore can lead to permanent abnormalities in thinking, learning, and memory. While inhalants may seem safe because they are found in household items that you don’t have to buy on the street, they are in fact extremely harmful.


oxycontin & fentanyl


Even scarier, it is impossible for drug users to determine on their own if the drugs they have bought contain fentanyl. Opioid analgesic medication is prescribed for people experiencing chronic and acute pain. Any opiate-based narcotic can be extremely addictive. This means that somebody taking it needs to be carefully monitored by a doctor to prevent abuse and potentially debilitating withdrawal symptoms.

fentanyl, sold as fake OxyContin pills or laced with other substances that people are buying. Because fentanyl is so powerful - it's estimated to be 80 times as powerful as morphine and hundreds of times more powerful than heroin, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - the risk of accidental overdose is high. The consequences can be deadly, and across Canada there has been a sharp increase in overdose deaths due to fentanyl.

Over the last 15 years, Canada has been experiencing a prescription drug crisis. This started with OxyContin, which spawned the first wave of addiction and overdose deaths throughout Canada in the early 2000s, leading to Health Canada launching a review on the dangers of this drug in 2004. This led, in 2012, to OxyContin being removed from most public drug plans, making it much more difficult to obtain. The replacement medication was produced in a tamper-resistant form that made it more difficult to crush, chew or snort to get high. However, in the years that followed, the popularity of other opiates such as hydromorphone, fentanyl, and even heroin rose dramatically, leading to a prescription drug crisis in Canada.

Equally as disturbing is that many of the people overdosing on fentanyl are recreational users experimenting with drugs, rather than hard core users or people with an established addiction. Their tolerance is lower, and their bodies and brains are completely unprepared for the powerful dose of opiates. In almost all cases, these users have no idea that they are taking fentanyl. The only sure way to avoid fentanyl is to avoid all opiates that are not directly prescribed to you by your doctor. Buying drugs on the street means taking a risk, and there is no reliable way of knowing what they contain.

In recent years, a disturbing trend has emerged across Canada. People obtaining prescription opiates and heroin to get high are sometimes unknowingly consuming






crystal meth Crystal Meth can only be described as L intense. The high itself made me full of energy and gave me a sense of confidence that

Physical Effects: •Increased heart and respiratory rate •High blood pressure •Dizziness and blurred vision •Anxiety and restlessness •Decreased appetite

Mental & Emotional Effects: •High energy when on the drug, extremely low energy when coming down from the drug •Depression and irritability when withdrawing •Powerful urges to use the drug and extreme difficulty resisting use •Exhaustion

Signs of Use: •Excessive activity & movement •Talking a lot, arguing

lasted for hours and hours. But when I continued using it, I’d go into these rages. Everything irritated me, and I was really paranoid. Coming off that drug is brutal. I felt anxious and depressed – even suicidal. The people and places I encountered through using meth were really sketchy – in other words, not to be trusted and sometimes downright scary. I got myself into some risky situations. It took me a really long time to get my head straight after coming off meth after months of use. Methamphetamines are stimulants that are similar to amphetamines and are becoming widely used by teenagers. Speed is one form of methamphetamine, and it can be swallowed in pill form, snorted or injected, and has a high that lasts from 2-4 hours. Crystal meth is sometimes injected, but it is usually snorted or smoked. Unlike speed, the high lasts from 4-14 hours and is highly addictive, both physically and psychologically. Crystal meth and speed are used to increase alertness, stay awake, feel stronger and more confident, and to create euphoric, “feel good,” effects. Like Liam, Hayley and Lisa have had similar experiences with crystal meth. Let’s hear what both girls have to say about the drug that, at one point, took over their lives. To carry onto the next page of“this article, we have an exclusive documented experience with Hayley* & Lisa*. They are animated

•Irritability, paranoia, nervousness

and articulate seventeen year-olds. They are neatly dressed, yet

•Noticable weight loss & sleeplessness

have enough edge so that they wouldn’t be passed off as “preps.” Enthusiastic and bright, at times they interrupt each other as they


speak. It doesn’t hurt that they are fascinated by their subject matter.” *Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the interviewees.



Hayley - “I’d never felt so happy, so powerful, and in control. I had a crazy sense of freedom and energy when I used. The best part was the sense of community and the feeling of being a part of one big happy family. Even once we moved to the street, I felt a sense of meaning and purpose. I felt amazingly good…until I started coming down.”

Liam – What finally ended it for you? Lisa - “The highs were becoming shorter and shorter and the lows were unbearable. I was anxious, depressed, and angry all the time. The only thing that could bring me out of it was more drugs. That was when I finally went to see a former teacher of mine who had expressed concern from the beginning. When I went to see her, I told her I was ready for her to help me. Shortly after that, I entered a residential treatment centre that helped me detox from the drug and stabilize. Afterwards, I moved to the city and started a day treatment program for youth who are overcoming substance abuse.”

Hayley was in the eleventh grade at the time. She had been doing ecstasy at raves, but was getting tired of some of ecstasy’s side effects, especially the depression and fatigue. She hadn’t really thought much about crystal meth, until one night when she was hanging out with friends and it was offered to her.

Liam – How about you, Hayley? Hayley - “It was the first time I’d ever seen it, or heard about it. Since I’ve never been afraid to try anything, I took some. From then on, I used it every day. It was cheaper than anything else, the high lasted longer, and it was easy to get. I was hooked.”

Hayley – “Mine definitely felt more sudden. I got caught stealing and I spent five nights in the youth jail… That was the worst experience of my life. When I got out, I was set up with a probation officer who made drug and alcohol treatment a mandatory condition of my probation. I attended weekly counselling sessions and participated in the same day treatment program as Lisa. Through that I became aware of the destructive pattern of my drug use, and I decided to make some important changes in my life. At the same time, an important part of the counselling process has been family counselling. My parents and I had a lot of anger towards each other, and counselling has helped us work through that. We’re starting to understand how we can relate to one another with more respect and tolerance, and we’re learning to communicate without becoming hostile or freaking out… I’ve always been really independent and a total risktaker; I like that quality in myself. But I realize, now, that I can find healthier ways to be that way.”

Lisa, on the other hand, was in the eighth grade and living in a small town. She was smoking weed so much that she wasn’t getting stoned from it anymore. One day she saw her older sister and her boyfriend smoking crystal meth. Lisa - “They were having a lot of fun… Grade eight was my worst year; I was having a really hard time. So, when I saw them happy… I figured I had nothing to lose. Like Hayley, I had never seen crystal meth, and didn’t even know what it was. Getting it every day wasn’t difficult since every high school has a couple of dealers, and just a few bucks will get you high.” Hayley – “At first crystal meth was wildly exciting. I felt free and untroubled. I felt like a different person when I was using – confident, sexy, and full of energy. But it wasn’t long until my love of meth took me to the streets of downtown Vancouver, since that’s where all the action was. Life on the streets meant no nagging parents, no homework and, most importantly, no boredom. But the fighting, stealing, and sexual assaults came along as part of the package, and by then I was already sucked into that scene. At the time, my parents were going through a divorce, and I couldn’t handle it anymore. So, I left. The street became my new home.”


Lisa – “Ultimately, I believe if I had known more about crystal meth and its powerful effects, I wouldn’t have been so quick to try it. What about you, Hayley?” Hayley – “Totally. I feel as though it’s our mission to inform and support other young people who are at risk of becoming heavily involved with drugs.” Lisa - “The best way to treat serious drug use is to stop it before it starts.”




Effects on body & behaviour: •Can boost heart rate & blood pressure, causing palpitations and other cardiac rhythm problems •Increases risk of: •being hurt or injured •driving with an intoxicated driver •being taken advantage of another sexually



12 alcohol & energy drinks Alcohol, energy drinks and related heart problems: Combining alcohol and energy drinks can actually be dangerous and harmful. Energy drinks, either used as mixes or served on their own, initially feel like the perfect solution to perk up when that slow, sleepy, feeling sets in. However, when an energy drink is consumed along with alcohol, the high levels of caffeine in these drinks can boost heart rate and blood pressure, causing palpitations, according to the National Institute of Health in the U.S.A. Mixing these drinks with alcohol further increases the risk of heart rhythm problems. "Energy drinks have a lot of stimulants in them like ginseng and taurine, while alcohol is a depressant; by mixing the two you're sending mixed messages to your nervous system which can cause cardiac related problems," Steve Clarke, director of the College Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center, explains.

Non medical problems: One major study conducted by researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine showed that students who mixed alcohol and energy drinks had double the risk of being hurt or injured, requiring medical attention, driving with an intoxicated driver, being taken advantage of sexually, or taking advantage of another sexually. "Students whose motor skills, visual reaction times, and judgment are impaired by alcohol may not perceive that they are intoxicated as readily when they're also ingesting a stimulant," describes Mary Claire O'Brien, lead researcher. "Only the symptoms of drunkenness are reduced -- but not


the drunkenness. They can't tell if they're drunk; they can't tell if someone else is drunk. So they get hurt, or they hurt someone else." In other words, energy drinks can trick people into thinking they are more sober than they really are, when in actuality they are every bit as drunk - they just feel less drunk. Sara, a popular 16-year old high school student who loves to party, described her experience mixing a popular energy drink that has a whopping 80 mg of caffeine, with vodka. “Not only did it make the drink go down easier due to the sweet taste, I also felt like I was able to keep going all night! I was dancing until 3 am without getting tired or feeling like I needed to take a break.” Don’t see a problem with that? Well, listen to the rest of what Sara has to say. “Although it was fun at first, I actually ended up drinking way more than I did before I started mixing with Red Bull. So that meant worse hangovers, sometimes so bad that I spent the following next day in bed.” Of course, we would prefer that you didn’t drink at all, as alcohol is an addictive substance that has many harmful physical and social consequences. However, if you must drink, avoid mixing alcohol with any caffeinated beverages or stimulants. Instead, alternate every alcoholic drink with water or Gatorade. Staying hydrated will prevent the ill effects of dehydration that result in those wicked hangovers you get from drinking to excess. Not only will you feel better the next day, but hydration actually prevents fatigue and burnout, leaving you with more energy. Not only will you feel better, but you are also far less likely to be the subject of the morning-after gossip!





alcohol abuse: smoking alcohol

Smoking alcohol, thanks in part to YouTube videos gone viral, is a growing trend amongst teenagers. You may have seen people smoking while drinking, but smoking their drinks? Right away it sounds intriguing.


But this is not just a quirky party trick, nor is it a way to practice your high school chemistry skills. There are some serious risks to inhaling alcohol. Since your body is not digesting and metabolizing the substance, you are delivering the intoxicating chemicals directly to your brain. Sure, you avoid the annoying possibility of vomiting, but throwing up while drinking is how our body tells us it can’t handle any more, therefore protecting us from drinking dangerously high amounts of alcohol. Smoking alcohol might sound like a convenient way to avoid barfing at a party, but what it also means is that the entire chemical load goes straight to our brainsmore dire than just an embarrassing story.


Doctors say that smoking alcohol increases its addictive qualities, which means that people who repeatedly use alcohol this way will experience powerful cravings and will require higher volumes to get the same high. Also remember that a person inhaling is not in control of how much he is consuming, because he is only inhaling the vapours while the actual liquid remains in the container that is being vapourized. This adds to the risk of alcohol poisoning. Finally, doctors and paramedics also point out that this method is terrible for your lungs and nasal passages.


alcohol abuse:


fetal alcohol spectrum disorder What is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder??

How does alcohol cause these problems?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) - also referred to as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)– is a series of problems with physical, learning, and behaviourial development caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. FASD can include a range of birth defects including: • Abnormal facial features • Central nervous system problems • Problems with memory, learning, and attention span • Problems communicating and expressing oneself • Problems with vision or hearing • Difficulties in school and getting along with others

Alcohol in the mother’s blood crosses the placenta freely and enters the growing embryo or fetus through the umbilical cord. Exposure to alcohol in the first three months of pregnancy can cause structural defects (like facial abnormalities). Growth and central nervous system problems can stem from the effects of alcohol at any stage in the pregnancy. The fetus’ brain is developing throughout the pregnancy, and can be damaged at any time.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is a permanent condition, and cannot be cured. It is only caused by drinking during pregnancy, and is therefore 100% preventable; if a woman does not drink alcohol while she is pregnant, her baby will have no chance of developing FASD.

Is there any safe amount of alcohol to drink while pregnant or is there a safe time during pregnancy to drink alcohol? Think of it this way: when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her unborn baby. There is no “safe” way to consume alcohol when pregnant. There is no “safe” time to drink during pregnancy: the harmful effects of drinking on an unborn fetus can happen in every stage of pregnancy. Therefore, women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should not drink. If you are sexually active and not using an effective form of birth control, you are at high risk for becoming pregnant and should not drink.


What kind of alcohol can cause damage? All drinks containing alcohol can harm a baby. A 12-ounce can of beer contains the same amount of alcohol as a 4ounce glass of wine or a 1-ounce shot of hard alcohol.

What if I’m pregnant now and have been drinking is there any point to my stopping now? If a woman has been drinking during pregnancy, it is never too late for her to stop. The sooner a woman stops drinking, the better her baby’s chances for normal development. Any woman who has a problem with drinking and is sexually active should use an effective method of birth control, like condoms or the pill, until her drinking is under control.

Is there anything I can do to help if I know someone who is drinking during her pregnancy? Mothers are not the only ones who can prevent FASD. Significant others, family members, friends, schools and counsellors can prevent FASD through education and support. If you know someone who is pregnant and still drinking, gently share share this information with her, and encourage her to seek help from the Edmonton Fetal Alcohol Network (



addiction: There has been a lot of information presented so far, but we still need to understand what is driving continued drug use and what role the drugs play in your life. Let’s talk to our three experts again. Hi guys. I want to point out that you guys seem to be approaching substance use from really different walks of life. Liam, you have the more stereotypical image of a “rough around the edges” drug user. Ella, you look like any other popular high school girl (especially in your soccer cleats), and Max, even though you’re not using anything, you seem set on being in the right crowd – the “fun” crowd.


Yeah. We probably won’t all be ending up at the same party anytime soon. Liam, what did doing all of those drugs add to your life?


Well, part of it was that I didn’t have much structure to my life when I first started getting into using. I didn’t have any hobbies, my mom was always working, I barely saw my dad and have no siblings, so I was alone a lot. I was bored. I’ve always been drawn to risk, whether through skateboarding or pulling pranks on teachers, so I wasn’t scared to try anything. Using all these drugs made life more interesting for a while. I felt good about myself too – when I was high all the constant buzzing in my head – the worries, the self-doubt, the negative thoughts – just stopped. I felt instantly better, for a few hours, anyway. And you kept using because…?


I couldn’t get through the day without using something. When I wasn’t using, I was miserable – the negativity and worries piled up way more than they had before. I wasn’t getting as much joy out of using, but


at least I could put off reality for a bit longer. Also, I think addiction runs in my family. My mom had a problem with pain killers for a long time, and my grandmother and uncle are both alcoholics. I definitely felt like there was addictive process that just took over. I never meant to get addicted, but it happened pretty fast. It’s amazing that you were able to stop, given how far in you got.


Yeah, well, it wasn’t easy. It’s a bit of a blur, but when I got kicked out of school, my mother dragged me to see the counsellor that had helped her through her addiction. The counsellor really helped me to see that I still had choices, even though it would probably get worse before getting better. I ended up going to residential treatment for youth, because I really needed to get away from all the things in my life that made me want to use. When I was in treatment, I really connected the dots and saw all the underlying issues that made me want the drugs so badly. What’s different now?


I go to meeting with other teenagers who have had drug problems. We can relate to each other. I see a counsellor regularly. I am learning how to cope with the things that used to make me want to escape through drugs: stress, loneliness, boredom. I found out I have ADHD and major depression, and am taking medication that helps me feel more balanced.


IT’S NOT THAT EASY “It just makes me feel content with who I am and what I’ve got, rather than focused on how I could be better.” E Hmmm. That’s a good question. I’ve never had

Wow. That’s quite the story, Liam. It’s really impressive, and inspiring, that you have managed to get to this point. Ella, what about you? You seem like you’ve got it all. How does smoking weed factor in to your life?

balance in my life – I’ve always been all or nothing. I need to think about that one! Max, what do you make of all this?

I don’t know. Life seems so serious sometimes! My

E parents are always on my back to get better grades, my friends always have some drama or another, and before I started smoking weed, I was a complete stress case! Since I was a kid I’ve always been really busy with sports: first gymnastics, which I quit when they wanted me to commit to five practices a week, now soccer, which I love but is really time consuming and competitive. It’s true that I’ve always had a lot of friends, so, for me, smoking weed was never about fitting in. It just makes me feel content with who I am and what I’ve got, rather than focused on how I could be better.

I don’t know. It sounds like using drugs has made things more complicated. I always thought that drinking was a safe bet. Everyone does it eventually, right? But I’m hearing that for Liam anyway it was basically his “on-ramp” to the rest of his drug use. But I just don’t want to be made fun of for turning it down if it’s offered to me. That can really brand you, you know? How do I not join in the fun and still be thought of as fun?


Trust me, Max, there are plenty of good and fun people who are not drinking or using drugs. Like most of my old friends, for example, who still don’t get why I’ve turned into such a chronic weed smoker. I’m no cooler than they are!


I can see why it’s tough for you to want to stop, then. I know, right? Except that I used to be a decent enough student. I mean, I still had to work hard to get just a B, but at least I could pull it off. My grades are pretty bad now and my parents are really disappointed in me. It doesn’t help that my two older sisters are both star athletes and students. It’s confusing, because I sometimes think I should stop or cut down so I can do better in school, but I just can’t handle life without weed. It’s too serious.


Dude, I’ve used it all, and none of it made me cooler or more fun. Okay, I’m not gonna lie – it did initially make me more comfortable socially, but that didn’t last. I needed to learn to be interesting and friendly without using before I found a good group of people to hang with.


FYI, taking up the guitar or a sport or really anything that you like doing is a good way to attract people and make you more interesting. Just sayin’.


But aren’t there any other ways for you to relax or lighten up? Like having more balance in your life, for example? Finding other ways to have fun?

Thanks for the chat, all of you! I’d love to hear where all of you end up in a few years. Keep in touch!




A common question young people ask is, “How do I know if my drug use is really becoming a problem?” We set out to discover the answer to this question by consulting the experts (youth just like you!). What follows is the product of our efforts: a list of over 100 drug related experiences that youth identified as negatively impacting their lives. But only YOU can determine how much drug related grief you’re willing to tolerate in your life. This checklist will help you get started in clarifying this question. Are you OK with having a score of 45 (meaning drugs have negatively affected your life in 45 different ways)? Or are you more comfortable with a score of 0, 5 or 10? After completing the questionnaire, you may want to discuss the results with a counsellor at school, or someone you really trust – maybe even your parents.

Check off any of the following ways in which drugs or alcohol may have directly or indirectly affected your life. PAGE 44

School/Work not completing assignments, homework or studying

being defensive or having an angry attitude

skipping class to use, avoid being caught or to sleep

toward teachers

slipping grades

poor attitude toward school in general

failing classes

little motivation to participate in school

suspension from school

little motivation to look for a job

expulsion from school

difficulty finding a job

dropping out of school

being fired from a job

attending an “Alternative” school program difficulty concentrating; distraction poor memory skills feeling “dumb” difficulty learning withdrawing from school activities (sports, clubs, etc.)


Family experiencing increased conflict with parents

feeling fear of being caught by family members

or siblings

neglecting household chores

withdrawing from family members (i.e. not wanting to

avoiding family outings

be around them)

exposing your family to negative people by using the

breaking the family rules (e.g. curfew)

home to use or deal drugs

lying to family members

feeling different from your family

increasing secrecy from family (e.g. hiding drugs,

running away from home

money, etc.)

being kicked out of the house

making secret phone calls feeling guilt over hurting or disappointing family members breaking trust with family members


Total: PAGE 45

Money/Law spending most of your money on drugs

stealing items from your home to sell or pawn

always feeling “broke”

(e.g. jewelry, CD’s, etc.)

owing friends or dealers money

“jacking” youth for money

worrying about paying off debts

being involved with the police

being the target of violence or intimidation because

being arrested by police

of unpaid drug debts

being charged with a crime

stealing money from your family

being on probation

stealing money from friends or other people

going to jail

committing crime to get money for drugs (e.g. B'n Es,

experiencing fear of being caught

fraud, breaking into cars, etc.)

experiencing paranoia of police or other

selling drugs

authority figures

exchanging sexual favours for money or drugs

rebelling against authority



Peers experiencing rejection from old friends

believing you're not good at anything

losing a romantic relationship

not liking yourself

listening to peers tell you you’ve “changed”

not living your dreams

mistreating or victimizing other youth

having a reputation you don't like (e.g. druggie, pot

peer group is largely made up of using friends

head, burn-out, etc.)

losing interest in and quitting activities (sports,

being unable to follow through on small goals you've

hobbies, etc.) you once enjoyed

set for yourself

experiencing strained relationships with friends over

difficulty motivating yourself

money or drugs

feeling “lost”

experiencing increased conflict with friends

feeling alienated or different from everyone else feeling afraid to try new things feeling like your life is stuck in a rut feeling like a tug-of-war is going on inside you between “good and bad” or “right and wrong”

Total: PAGE 46




low energy

irritability when not using

chronic fatigue

mood swings

sleeping-in on school days

feelings of anxiety or nervousness

sleeping during the day (e.g. after school naps)

feelings of depression or hopelessness

difficulty going to sleep without using at night

feelings of confusion

using drugs to go to sleep

feelings of loneliness or isolation

increased coughing

feelings of guilt

frequent colds, flus, bronchitis

feelings of shame (e.g. "I'm no good,” "I'm a

aggravation of asthma

bad person," etc.)

shortness of breath when exercising, going up stairs

feeling bored with your life

or running short distances

feeling numb (i.e. no feelings)


having suicidal thoughts

weight loss

attempting suicide

high-risk sexual activity (i.e. unsafe sex)

having cravings when you haven’t used

regrets about sexual choices

having an “I don’t care” attitude

physical injuries resulting from accidents while under the influence of drugs car-related incidents (tickets, fines, accidents, charges, etc.)



Add up all the totals from each section. Add these totals to make a total score. Record your total score in the blank below.

Drug use has negatively affected my life in __________ different ways. How do you feel about your score? Is your score higher or lower than you originally guessed? Are you prepared to continue paying this price to have drug use in your life? What would you like your score to be? How can you start to work towards making changes in your score? The only way to reduce your score is to reduce your drug use. WWW.DAFACTS.COM


RESOURCES FOR PARENTS you are are a a parent parent who who has has been been flipping flipping through through this this IfIf you book in in hopes hopes that that you you will will better better understand understand teenage teenage book drug use, use, you’re you’re definitely definitely off off to to a a good good start start drug When children are under the age of twelve, they look to their parents for security and guidance. In these years, parents have an enormous influence on their children – in the values they instill, in helping them make appropriate decisions, providing necessary nurturing and love, and modeling healthy behaviours and communication skills. As children grow older their developmental tasks shift from seeking security and acceptance from their parents to struggling for individuation and control over their own lives. More and more they look to their peers for acceptance and belonging. Parents have good reason to be concerned about substance abuse in their teenagers. Drugs are extremely easy to obtain, and alcohol is present at many parties and socializing events. However, as a parent it is important to respond carefully to substance abuse concerns. •

to over-react by using scare tactics or threats. This simply sends the message that you don’t understand them, and that they need to hide everything they do from you. It is much more effective to engage them in a conversation about the pros and cons of experimenting with drugs.

(i.e. “how could you do this to me; what did I do wrong?”) is almost always a mistake – it usually only creates brief changes in behaviour, and invokes resentment. The same goes for nagging.

from experiencing the natural consequences of their drug use; for example, calling school to excuse absence or to prevent suspension. “Rescuing” reduces the chance that your children will learn to take responsibility for their actions.

or other people for your child’s drug use. As you will learn, there are many factors that contribute to substance abuse. Learning how to cope more effectively with this problem and how to communicate your concerns is far more important than laying the blame on yourself or others.

into thinking that you can single-handedly change your child’s interest in drugs and alcohol. There is no magic formula for preventing teenagers from trying drugs: the best buffer is having honest discussions, exposing them to information, and letting them know that they are responsible for making choices about drugs, and that they are responsible for any consequences of their drug use.

to whom you may vent your feelings of anger, fear, and guilt. It’s important to identify and express these feelings before approaching your son or daughter. • use instead of relying on popular myths and assumptions (see the resources on our website • your children with your concerns. The most important message you can convey to teenagers is that you care about them and that you are a person with whom they can discuss this sensitive topic. •

as though they are the experts on their own lives. They are. The term “I need you to help me understand this” can be very useful.

• Teenagers will often give to respond to your suspicions or concerns. Saying “I would like to trust you enough to believe you” or “I’m not looking for an excuse, true or not true; I’m more concerned with the mixed messages I’m receiving” is a way to respond to the real issues rather than the excuses. •

on the fact that no matter how much you would like to, you cannot control your child’s choices. You can, however, learn to cope.


you know exactly what is happening with your child, or that you understand all of the reasons behind his or her drug use. Give your child the opportunity to tell his or her story.



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2017 D&A Magazine w Sample Back Cover  

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