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Q&As

You may have lots of questions that you don’t know the answer to. These are some typical questions that you may be asking, with some answers you might find helpful.

How do I avoid drugs but still go to cool parties?

When alcohol and drugs are readily available at parties, you may feel peer pressure to use them as a way to fit in. Here are some tips on staying safe when you party:
– Find friends who don’t need drugs to party.
– Check out who’ll be at a party and what the plans are before you commit to something that may turn out to be an awkward situation for you.
– Know the facts about drugs.
– Stop to think before you make decisions that you might regret.
The cool crowds are the people who appreciate you for who you are, not for what you do or don’t do.

If you use drugs at a young age, does it mess up your life?
Science has shown that the earlier a person starts using drugs, the more likely he/she is to become addicted and suffer serious social and medical consequences. The reasons are complex. First, drugs affect the brain, and the brain is still maturing when a person is young—until early adulthood in fact. Thus, drugs can alter normal brain development. Second, people who use drugs when they are very young often have other problems that led to their drug use in the first place. For example, they may have difficult family situations or problems with depression or anxiety and use drugs to help them cope. Unfortunately, drug abuse just makes things worse in the long run and does not fix these problems. Third, using drugs can interfere with success in school, in sports, and in relationships with friends and family, creating more problems down the road.

Since early drug use can lead to later drug addiction and other problems, the best advice is not to even experiment with drugs. However, if someone is already using a drug, he/she should know that the earlier he/she stops, the more likely he/she is to avoid addiction and the other bad consequences associated with it.

My friend thinks I have a drinking and drug problem. What should I do?

Using alcohol or drugs regularly is usually just a step away from addiction (where you depend on these substances to feel good or get through your day).

Here are a few warning signs that someone may have a substance abuse problem:

  • relying on drugs or alcohol to have fun, forget problems, or relax
  • having blackouts
  • drinking or using drugs while alone
  • withdrawing or keeping secrets from friends or family
  • losing interest in activities that used to be important
  • performing differently in school (such as grades dropping and frequent absences)
  • building an increased tolerance to alcohol or drugs — gradually needing more and more of the substance to get the same feeling
  • lying, stealing, or selling stuff to get money for drugs or alcohol

It’s usually hard for people to recognize they have a problem, which is why friends or family often step in. Quitting is hard to do, and many people find they can’t do it without help. The best thing you can do is to talk to someone you trust — preferably an adult who can support you — so you don’t have to deal with your problem alone.

My parents have a drinking problem, but every time I try to talk about it they say I shouldn’t worry and they’re getting help. Who can I talk to?

Having a parent with a drinking problem or other addiction can be extremely tough. Alcohol and other addictions affect everyone in a family — but sometimes parents don’t realize this.

Even when parents are getting the help they need, sons and daughters have their own questions, concerns, emotions, and needs to sort through. Talking about all this with someone — whether it’s a friend, counsellor, or religious leader — is a healthy thing to do.

I think I might be depressed. I’m having a hard time paying attention in class. I just feel sad for no reason, like I can’t cope. I told my parents, and they took me to a doctor because I was also having headaches and stress. My check-up was normal. My mum listens and tries to help me feel better. My dad says I’m just not trying hard enough at school. Maybe he’s right. What should I do?

Sometimes, friends or family members recognize that someone is depressed. They may respond with love, kindness, or support, hoping that the sadness will soon pass. They may offer to listen if the person wants to talk. If the depressed feeling doesn’t pass with a little time, friends or loved ones may encourage the person to get help from a doctor, therapist, or counsellor.

But not everyone recognizes depression when it happens to someone they know or love.

Some people don’t really understand about depression. For example, they may react to a depressed person’s low energy with criticism, saying the person is acting lazy or not trying. Some mistakenly believe that depression is just an attitude or a mood that someone can shake off. They don’t realize it’s not that easy.

Sometimes, even people who are depressed don’t take their condition seriously enough. Some feel that they are weak in some way, or disappointing others because they are depressed. This isn’t right — and it can even be harmful if it causes people to hide their depression and avoid getting help.

Occasionally, when depression causes physical symptoms (things like headaches or other stress-related problems), a person may see a doctor. Once in a while, even a well-meaning doctor may not realize somebody is depressed. He or she may just pay attention to the physical symptoms.

Talk to your parents again. Tell them how you feel. You might mention that you’ve been reading up on depression and, based on the symptoms you are having, you think that might be what’s going on with you. If it’s easier, show your parents one of our articles on depression.

Ask your parents to arrange for you to meet with a counsellor or therapist to find out how you can feel better.
If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere with your parents, talk to your school counsellor.
 This is just the type of thing counsellors are there to help solve — especially when it is affecting your schoolwork. Your counsellor also may be able to help you when it comes to talking to your parents.