Krisanna Jeffery
Registered Clinical Counselor, B.S.W, M.Ed


Mood Altering Drugs and Role Modeling

A Parent’s Toughest Performance

          If you are a responsible parent of a teen today, chances are you are already quite concerned about preventing their involvement in drug use! Yet all to often, we as parents, prepare our children poorly to make healthy decisions around drug use, leaving them instead, to be influenced by our cultural norms. (And we  know how unhealthy they are!) 

            With the average age for first use  in B.C. being 11 years for tobacco and 12 years for alcohol, we need to be starting our prevention early. In a 1994 survey, children this age rated alcohol and drug use as their second health priority.  Most parents ask, “So, what can we do?” Here are a few ideas… 

            Talk About Drugs: Remember, when your child was young and you were training them about the dangers of talking to or going with strangers. You would go over and over this idea from many different angles until you were sure your child had got the message. Well, the same is needed for teaching them about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. But because drug use is so widespread in our culture, this does not happen and our children often succumb to the beliefs of the larger culture. Some of these beliefs are, “Everyone uses alcohol and/or drugs”, “It’s necessary to use alcohol and/or drugs in order to have a good time”, “Alcohol is not as bad as drugs”, etc. etc. 

            It’s necessary to give your children loud, clear, and consistent messages about your real feelings about drug use. It will need to be addressed over and over to counter balance other untrue messages they are receiving. Media situations, like the Ross Rebagliati debate, are great opportunities to start up discussions with your teens. After educating yourself, encourage lively debate with them. This at least gives you a chance to find out and clear up any distorted messages they have already received. (There will be lots!) 

            Delay First Use:     Research shows that the earlier a child uses, the more likely it is that they will develop a substance abuse problem. The other factor to consider is that drugs and alcohol will have a more severe affect on the developing body compared to a mature one. Addictions will develop much more quickly. So the longer any use of mood altering drugs can be put off the better! 

            Be a Positive Role Model : Don’t be a hypocrite ! Kids are extremely sensitive to that. If you tell them that we don’t have to have mood altering drugs to have fun, then model just that. As a role model, you need to be honest about your own drug use. We can’t ask our children to do as we say and not as we do. Try modelling for them saying “No”. They need all the help they can get building those assertive skills. 

            And last but not least, if you know or suspect your child is using mood altering drugs , act on it. It is important that you don’t ignore it. The earlier you intervene the better.  If you’d like more information on prevention strategies, Health Canada has several pamphlets available on the topic, at 604-666-2083.


For more information, please contact Krisanna Jeffery
1348 Gabriola Dr. Parksville, BC
Canada V9P 2X8

Tel (250) 951-2299 between 9-5 Pacific
fax (250) 947-9920 anytime

Copyright 2003     Krisanna Jeffery