Alcohol is a depressant drug, which can slow down the parts of the brain that affect thinking, behaviour, breathing, and heart rate. Like the body, the human brain is still developing throughout adolescence and early adulthood, generally until about 25 years of age.
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Drug Free Kids Canada’s Talk Kit provides education and tips on how to talk to youth about cannabis, which can be downloaded for free. They also have trial online chats where you can interact with teens directly.
Youth and young adults (up to 25 years of age) are considered a high-risk group when it comes to cannabis use. Cannabis use can cause unpleasant, unwanted, or negative effects on mental and physical health, with both short and or long-term use.
While cannabis is legal for those over the age of 19, it is illegal for everyone else. This means that under-age users will turn to the black market, or “street” products. These products are not regulated or checked by anyone, and can contain substances other than cannabis. In many cases, street cannabis has been found to include many other drugs such as cocaine and fentanyl.
One of the main reasons youth and teens will use a substance is peer pressure. It’s important to know that peer pressure can on take different forms. In some cases, it may result from their peers directly telling them they “should” use cannabis, or “must” use cannabis to fit in. However, it may be indirect. Many youth have said that simply being around people who are using it, without being verbally pressured, still led them to feel pressure to use it.
Prior to the legalization of cannabis, the bi-annual Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey reported that 19% of students in grades 7 to 12 had used cannabis in the past year (2018). The rates between males and females is similar (19.6% and 18.3%, respectively).
The School Mental Health ASSIST program (supported through CAMH) – has a selection of print resources about opioids for parents, educators, and youth:
The use of any opioid which is not prescribed to the person is not legal. It is not legal to sell, buy, or traffic opioids, at any age. These are offences which are enforced by the police.
Most young people report that they access opioids from home. Specifically, in the OSDUHS survey, 59% of students who indicated they had misused prescription opioids said they took them from a parent, sibling, or someone else they live with.