Worried about your teen and prom? Learn how to help them reduce their risk!

Worried about your teen and prom?

Learn how to help them reduce their risk!

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when you were heading home with your bundle of joy? Now your precious baby is finishing high school and becoming a young adult.

The end of high school often involves proms and prom parties. While these are fun and exciting times for your youth, there is also the potential for harm, often related to the misuse of alcohol and other drugs. As your youth become more independent, you may think you have very little influence on their behaviour when compared to the pressure of friends and prom marketing. However, you have more influence than you think!

You are your teen’s first line of defence against drugs.

Start the conversation about drugs early, be open, and talk often. There is no perfect way to have the conversation, but here are some tips to help you:

  • Respect that your child is an expert in their own culture. Invite them to teach you about their world. Praise positive behaviour and show interest your teen's life.  This will help to make you more approachable when they are running into diffi­cult times and need someone to talk to.
  • Stay informed. You can use an external reference like social media, a newspaper article or TV show about drugs to start a conversation with your teen.
  • Ask about what concerns, worries or questions that they have about 'what is happening'. Ask questions, and then listen. The best way to talk to youth about drug use is to listen to them.
  • Ask them to teach you what they know about cannabis and other drugs. Invite them to tell you what they're hearing, seeing or have learned.
  • Ask your teen about the kinds of concerns and cautions youth are sharing with other youth about drugs and safety. Ask them about what steps youth are taking to keep each other safe.
  • Ask them what it is like to be talking to you about these issues.
  • Speak from your heart. Focus on your heartfelt concerns for their safety and a deep regard for their wellness.
  • Emphasize your deep caring, commitment to understand. Instead of 'setting them straight’.
  • Be open, supportive and involved.

Alcohol is likely to be available to your prom-goer and this poses risks.

Chances are your teen has had some experience drinking alcohol or hanging out with friends who drink. In Ottawa:

  • About 3 in 5 (59%) Grade 12 students report drinking alcohol (more than just a few sips) at least once in the past year.
  • One in three (28%) Grade 12 students report they have had 5 or more drinks on one occasion in the past 4 weeks.

Here are a few ideas to help your teen have a safe prom:

  • Consider hosting a pre-prom party with fancy non-alcoholic drinks and appetizers to discourage “pre-drinking”.
  • One in five (21%) Ottawa students in Grade 12 report they have ridden in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver at least once during the previous 12 months.  Help your teen to make a SAFETY PLAN that may include a safe ride home, staying with friends they trust, and never leaving a party or prom alone.

Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking guidelines recommend teens delay drinking alcohol for as long as possible. If your teen is planning to drink, you can share these safer drinking ideas with them:

  • Only drink under parental/adult supervision.
  • Set limits and stick to them. Teens should never drink more than 1-2 drinks at a time and never more than 1-2 times per week.
    • Drink slowly. For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.
    • Eat before and while you are drinking.
    • Always consider your age, body weight and health problems that might suggest setting lower limits.

Preventing Overdose

Fentanyl and carfentanil are in Ottawa. Any illicit drug can be cut with fentanyl and has been found locally in cocaine, heroin and counterfeit pills that look just like prescription pills.

Anyone can overdose, even teens experimenting with drugs for the first time. Make sure your teen is aware that this risk exists, how to respond if they see an overdose, and how to reduce their risk of overdose by sharing this information with them.

Tell your child to call 911 if they believe someone is overdosing.  Many youth are afraid to call 911 for fear that the police will charge them or that they will be in trouble with their parents. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act says that they will not be charged with drug possession when calling 911. Let them know that their safety and their friends' safety is what matters most.

For more information about overdose prevention visit www.stopoverdoseottawa.ca.

Do you have more questions?

  • Speak with a Public Health Nurse. Call the Ottawa Public Health Info Centre at 613-PARENTS [613-727-3687]  (TTY: 613-580-9656) or email Ottawa Public Health at ParentinginOttawa@ottawa.ca
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa 

Connect with a Public Health Nurse and other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.

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