Frequently Asked Questions
- How much is too much alcohol?
- When should I start to talk to my kids about drugs?
- How do I know if my teen uses drugs?
- I'm an adult; it's legal for me to drink. Who cares if I have a couple of drinks to relax when I come home from work?
- I'm pretty sure some of my teen's friends are smoking marijuana. Now that the issue is close to home, how do I start a conversation about substance use?
- How can I keep my teen safe at parties?
- I've read about teens using prescription medication or over-the-counter drugs to get high. Should I keep my medicine, and medicine that belongs to others in the house, locked up?
How much is too much alcohol?
If you drink, you can reduce your risk of injury, chronic health problems, and social and family problems related to alcohol if you know and follow Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.
These guidelines were developed by an independent working group of experts from addiction research agencies across Canada. The guidelines recommend adults aged 25 – 65 years drink no more than:
- 10 drinks* a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days
- 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days
On special occasions, you might drink more than your usual amount. Reduce your risk of injury/harm by drinking no more than 3 drinks (for women) or 4 drinks (for men) on any single occasion.
You may be surprised to learn that alcohol is a known carcinogen – a substance that causes cancer. It is not the type of alcohol that increases your risk of cancer, but rather how much you drink and how often. As alcohol intake increases, the risk of cancer increases. Therefore, when it comes to cancer risk, the recommended drinking limits are lower. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends that if alcohol is consumed to limit consumption, no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men; less is better.
Keep in mind: these guidelines are limits, not targets.
If you drink less than the recommended limit,
don't start drinking more.
Tips for safer drinking:
- Set limits for yourself. Stick to your limits.
- Drink slowly. Have no more than 2 drinks in 3 hours.
- For every alcoholic drink, have a non-alcoholic drink.
- Eat before and while you are drinking.
- Always consider your age, body weight and health problems. These factors may affect the impact of alcohol and you may need to lower your limits for drinking.
- While drinking may provide health benefits for certain groups of people (under certain conditions), do not start to drink or increase your drinking to benefit your health.
These guidelines are meant for healthy adults. They may not be appropriate for you, if you:
- Have health problems, such as liver disease
- Have a family history of cancer or have other risk factors for cancer (i.e. smoking tobacco)
When should I start to talk to my kids about drugs?
It's never too early to start the conversation. Substance use is part of life, and children who talk with their parents about drug use start to form their own opinions. Explanations and early conversations about chewable vitamin tablets are a beginning. Children may be told that vitamins help children grow and only Mommy or Daddy can give children vitamins. Discussions about vitamins can progress to deeper discussions about other substances as your child grows older, into a pre-teen and then a teen. Develop the habit of talking with your child regularly, on a variety of subjects.
How do I know if my teen uses drugs?
There is no one specific sign of drug use. Signs of experimentation or regular use of substances may include: unexplained physical, mood or behavioural changes. However, these changes are also a normal part of adolescence. Don't jump to conclusions. If your family has a history of open conversation about a variety of topics, it may be easier to talk with your teen about substance use.
I'm an adult; it's legal for me to drink. Who cares if I have a couple of drinks to relax when I come home from work?
Parents are their children's strongest role models and greatest influences. What you do or don't do has a big impact on your teen's decision about whether or not to use substances. Be a good example. If you criticize your teen for using marijuana and, at the same time, you have two drinks before dinner because you've had "a bad day", you lose credibility. Your own behaviour should be in line with the rules and expectations you have of your teen.
I'm pretty sure some of my teen's friends are smoking marijuana. Now that the issue is close to home, how do I start a conversation about substance use?
If you know about substances, it's easier to talk to your teen. Scare tactics aren't helpful. Educate yourself. Learn what you can from the internet or library. Talk about the importance of knowing what we consume/put into our bodies. At the same time, acknowledge that some people use substances for pleasure. Share your concerns about the risks involved in substance use. Listen. Try to genuinely hear your teen's views and experiences.
Read facts about various drugs.
How can I keep my teen safe at parties?
You can't stop your teen from alcohol and drug use, especially at parties. But, you can be clear with your teen about what you think, and why. Teens are not adults. Set rules. Some rules may be negotiable and others non-negotiable. Make sure the consequences of a broken rule are consequences you're willing to follow through on.
Revise the rules as your teen matures. Ask your teen to make a "party safety plan". This plan could include: always have taxi money, have a friend watch your drink (to make sure no one adds anything), and other strategies you and your teen come up with together.
See Tips for Safer Partying and A Guide for Safer Partying for more information.
I've read about teens using prescription medication or over-the-counter drugs to get high. Should I keep my medicine, and medicine that belongs to others in the house, locked up?
Talk to your children and teens about the safety of prescription and over-the-counter medication. Discuss the fact that a doctor prescribes a specific medication for a specific person and what may be safe for one person may not be safe for another. And, over-the-counter medication is designed to treat specific symptoms. If a person does not have these symptoms or takes more medication than directed, the medication may be harmful.
If you don't want to lock up medication, keep prescriptions and over-the-counter medications out of sight. It is also important to monitor amounts of medications, even those kept out of sight.
For more information, or to speak with a Public Health Nurse, please contact
York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653, TTY 1-866-252-9933