Below are past articles previously published in Drugs & Addiction Magazine. These are filled with current and relevant information and statistics and can be used as great conversation starters with youth.
Clarity on CannabisDecember 4, 2018
What are the signs my child may have a problem with
cannabis or other substances?
• Ignoring responsibilities at work, school, or home
• Giving up activities that they used to find important or enjoyable
• Using more cannabis, more frequently
• Feeling unable to cut down or control cannabis use
• Changes in mood (e.g., feeling irritable and paranoid)
• Changing friends
• Having difficulties with family members
• Being secretive or dishonest
• Changing sleep habits, appetite, or other behaviours
• Borrowing money or having more money than usual
It is sometimes hard to detect a problem with cannabis use. Some signs of a cannabis
problem can look like typical youth behaviour. Talk to your child and find out if there’s a
What can I do to help prevent cannabis from doing harm
to my child?
Stay connected: Adolescence is a time when your child may want
to pull away. Respect their independence, but stay connected at the
same time. Build a strong relationship with your child by participating in
activities with them and getting to know their friends. Having a healthy
relationship will increase the likelihood that you can help them to make
informed and safer choices.
Talk about it: Have open, ongoing talks so your child understands
the effects of cannabis and the legal risks of having, using, selling, or
sharing it. Pick a time when you’re both calm. Let the discussion happen
casually or ask your child to let you know when they’re ready to talk.
Be positive: When talking about cannabis, avoid trying to frighten,
shame or lecture your child. Build trust with active listening skills, such
as repeating back what they say, using the language they use, asking for
clarification and thanking them for sharing.
Focus on safety: Let your child know about safer choices when
it comes to cannabis and work with them to establish limits and
understand consequences. Be there to help even if cannabis is
involved, such as if they need a ride because they don’t want to get in a
car with someone who has used cannabis.
Be informed: Your child may be learning about substances in school
and through other parts of their lives. Be prepared with facts about
cannabis so you can respond to questions they may have.
Be supportive: Youth use cannabis for many reasons: to fit in, to feel
good, or to cope with stress. Be ready to help your child find healthier
coping strategies or professional help if needed. See the next page to
find resources to support you and your child.
Be an example: Reflect on your own use of substances. If you use
alcohol as a stress reliever, you might be giving the message that
substance use is an appropriate way to handle life’s challenges. Try
using other coping strategies, like going for a walk after a stressful day.
If your child asks about your substance use, you can be honest but use
the opportunity to discuss why people use substances, the dangers of
substance use and how your child can avoid making mistakes you may
Where can I get more information and help?
The resources below offer more information and help for parents/caregivers and youth:
• For vital information on reducing harms of drugs and alcohol, visit DrugSafe.ca
• For more ideas on how to talk to your child about cannabis, check out Drug Free Kids
Canada’s Cannabis Talk Kit with scripts and talking points
• To learn about Alberta’s approach to cannabis legalization, visit Alberta.ca/cannabis
• To learn about safer use of cannabis, see Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use
Guidelines – youth version or public version
• For information on safer use of alcohol, see Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines
• For information about treatment options in your community, talk to your doctor or
contact the Addiction Helpline (Alberta Health Services): 1-866-332-2322
• Youth looking for help can contact Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868