Substance use prevention aims to eliminate problems before they begin, rather than waiting until problems are present. The table below illustrates a range of risk and protective factors from individual traits to societal structures. These factors have an impact on an individual throughout the lifespan. The goal of prevention is to build protective factors and reduce risk factors.
CPHO REPORT ON THE HEALTH STATUS OF CANADIANS 2018
Resilience is the ability to overcome challenges and move forward. Higher resilience is linked with lower levels of problematic substance use in youth.
You can foster resilience in your family by:
Raising Resilient Children and Youth | CAMH
7 Protective Factors That Promote Children’s Resilience (vawlearningnetwork.ca)
Mental Health Status is linked with substance use. People living with mental illness may use substances as a way to cope. Individuals who use substances frequently and/or at an early age are at greater risk of developing substance use disorders.
Genetics play a role in problematic substance use, but no single gene is responsible. Some individuals may be more likely to develop a substance use disorder due to genetics. People can lower the likelihood of developing substance use disorder for themselves and their family, whether genetically predisposed or not, by increasing their protective factors and addressing their risk factors for substance use.
Positive experiences and relationships during Early Childhood Development (ages zero to five years) lead to better future physical health, mental health, and social health. When we respond to our child’s needs and spend quality time playing, communicating, and connecting, we help our child feel loved and secure.
Adolescence can be a particularly challenging time and it is important to understand how to have conversations with children about opioid use.
Children who experience Physical and Sexual Abuse and Other Types of Violence are more likely to engage in problematic substance use.
Having a Family Member with Problematic Substance Use can lead to a greater chance of a youth developing problematic substance use.
A sense of School Connectedness (feeling accepted, respected, included, and supported by others at school) helps prevent early initiation of substance use. Parents have an important role and responsibility in school connectedness by:
Likewise, Social and Community Connectedness prevents problematic substance use by creating a sense of belonging. When people from different walks of life come together, they can help build community resilience by sharing skills, knowledge, and experiences.
Availability of and Access to Health and Social Services is a factor in receiving timely and individualized treatment. Early intervention leads to more positive outcomes.
Increased Availability of and Access to Substances can lead to increased substance use. National guidelines help prescribers keep their patients within safe limits for their pain medication. Follow these recommendations to keep your household safe:
Marketing Practices influence Social Norms by framing substance use in a positive way. Studies show a link between more marketing and media exposure and a greater likelihood of using legal and illegal substances. Talk with your teen about substance use early and regularly, so they know how to keep themselves safe. Drug Free Kids Canada also has helpful tips about how to make your conversations age-appropriate, what to say about drugs if you’ve used drugs, and how to approach the conversation if you think your child is using drugs.
The Canadian Residential School System, Colonization and Intergenerational Trauma continue to have damaging effects on many Indigenous communities and individuals, including greater risk of harmful substance use. Research shows that for Indigenous youth, connection with traditional Indigenous teachings, culture, and ceremony is a protective factor related to substance use.
The risk of problematic substance use is greater for populations who experience Discrimination or Stigma based on mental health status, disability, ethnicity/race, and/or 2SLGBTQ+ identity. People who use substances experience stigma, leading to reduced confidence and feelings of shame, making them less likely to seek help. Many organisations are making internal changes to address cultural safety and addressing institutional barriers. Help reduce stigma by changing how you talk about substance use.
Income and Housing Policies, and other inequalities related to the social determinants of health, are associated with harmful substance use. People who lack access to safe, stable, affordable housing often turn to substances to cope. There are a number of examples of current major policy reform in Canada that have the potential to significantly impact the housing crisis: Poverty Reduction Strategy, Housing First, National Housing Strategy. Call or text 211 to find out what community supports and services are available to you and your family.
There are factors that affect problematic substance use that are out of a family’s control. Federal and provincial policy/legislation/programs help to provide population-level protection for problematic substance use.
Proactive guidance, education and prevention on cannabis use is important to reduce harms related to the use of cannabis products. The Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (LRCUG) provide recommendations to individuals to help reduce health risks associated with cannabis use.
Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health provides support to help individuals make informed decisions surrounding their alcohol use and health. This updated guidance is based in harm reduction strategies by providing Canadians with the knowledge that any and all alcohol use comes with health related risks.
National guidelines help prescribers keep their patients within safe limits for their pain medication.
Below is a table of policy actions that can be taken to prevent problematic substance use in youth, along with examples of local strategies in Grey and Bruce counties.
CURRENT POLICY APPROACH IN CANADA
LOCAL INITIATIVES AND STRATEGIES
PROMOTE POSITIVE SOCIAL NORMS AND COMMUNICATE RISKS
School health policies
Combination of positive youth development and education, depending on province or territory.
Guidelines instructing lower-risk use (or minimal to no use).
REDUCE ACCESS AND AVAILABILITY OF PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES
Substance content control
The responsibilities and powers of Ontario municipalities to address tobacco use.
Legal age of use
Private versus public sales
Control of supply
Minimum pricing and taxation
See below for a list of resources and supports available with contact information:
Call or text 211 to access community supports and services.
Contact ConnexOntario at 1-866-531-2600 for mental health and addiction services.
Contact CMHA Ontario or call 1-800-875-6213 to speak with a Canadian Mental Health Associate
Bruce Grey Child and Family Services (bgcfs.ca) or toll free at 1-855-322-4453
Victim Services Bruce Grey Perth and 519-832-2500 for all non-urgent police matters
Victim/Witness Assistance Program
If you are in crisis, call the 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Line of Grey Bruce at 1-877-470-5200.
Anti-Human Trafficking Resource Manuals NOW AVAILABLE | Violence Prevention Grey Bruce
Relevant GBPH pages:
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