Drug Use and Harm Reduction | Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Drug Use and Harm Reduction

Alcohol and Other Drugs

Alcohol and substance misuse education in the school and classroom setting is essential to assist students in developing the necessary skills and knowledge to make healthier choices. Classroom teachers have a unique opportunity to positively influence the lifestyle choices of their students through role modeling, knowledge, and teaching. Alcohol and substance misuse education in the classroom is best achieved by:

  • Engaging students in exploring real-world situations and issues related to alcohol and substance use.
  • Establishing a learning environment that includes positive role models.
  • Connecting with community partners with topic expertise, to support curriculum linked learning in the classroom.
  • Providing opportunities for students to practice making reasoned decisions.
  • Engaging students in learning through problem-solving.
  • Assisting students in making cross-curricular connections between personal choices related to substance use or misuse and potential outcomes.

Credible Resources

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse - Additional information and resources on topics like impaired driving, sports and youth substance abuse, and standards for youth substance use prevention.

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health - Access to research and publications on mental health and substance use topics, including alcohol use in youth. CAMH houses the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. Provincial trends from this survey are summarized in interactive infographics for substance use and mental health and well-being.

MADD Canada - Youth services and awareness campaigns aimed at stopping impaired driving.

Evidence-Based Curriculum Support

Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research – Variety of resources to help schools address substance use, including iMinds lesson plans.

Parent Action on Drugs – Resources and programs for peer education and youth engagement

Project AlertFree substance abuse prevention curriculum for grades 7 and 8 with complimentary teacher training, lesson plans, posters, videos, and newsletters.

Ontario Physical and Health Education Association (OPHEA) – Programs and services for healthy schools. Level Up and YouThrive are free resources that address mental health, substance use, and health behaviours.

KidsHealth in the ClassroomResources and lesson plans for kindergarten to grade 12 about health topics, including alcohol and other drugs.

The Fourth RPrograms that engage students in healthy relationships and decision-making to reduce risk behaviours like substance abuse.

Media SmartsA lesson for grades 7-9 that highlights seven common myths about alcohol present in media messaging.

Home-School Connections

You, Your Teen, and Substance Use – A guide to help parents understand and talk to teens about substance use.



Our youth identify that they use cannabis and other drugs to enhance their social experience and to cope with stress and mental health issues. Regular and early use of cannabis in adolescence can cause harm to the developing brain and is linked with behavioural, physical and mental health issues. While it is recommended not to use cannabis at all, youth can reduce their risks by waiting as long as possible before beginning use. Educators play a key role in healthy student development. It is important for teachers, coaches and other trusted adults to be ready to talk with youth about cannabis and other drugs.

 Credible Resources

Evidence – Based Curriculum Supports:

  • Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research
    • Cycles  is a film-based resource that encourages teens to talk openly and honestly about why some young people use cannabis. 
    • iMinds is a health education resource for grades 9-10 which aims to help students maximize their drug literacy, by building knowledge and skills needed to survive and thrive in a world where drug use is common. 
  • Project Alert - Free substance abuse prevention curriculum for grades 7 and 8 with complimentary teacher training, lesson plans, posters, videos, and newsletters.

  • Kids Health - The activities in this Teacher's Guide will help students learn what drugs do to the body and mind, the dangers of using drugs, and how they can handle peer pressure to use drugs. 
  • Short animated video about the effects of cannabis on the teenage brain.

Home-School Connections

  • Cannabis Talk Kit: Know how to talk with teens - Provides information for parents and educators to support conversations with teens about cannabis. 

  • Clearing the Air: Lower-Risk Cannabis Use on Campus - Helping campuses promote the safer use of alcohol and other drugs. This is one in a series of resources meant to guide the development of specific tools to promote elements of a comprehensive approach to psychoactive substance use within a post-secondary institution’s community.
  • Cannabis: What Parents/Guardians and Caregivers Need to Know – This fact sheet on recreational cannabis is for parents/guardians and caregivers of youth in grades 6 to 12. It provides information about cannabis, cannabis legalization, risks, signs of a problem, how to help your child, and where to get more information and support.

  • Positive Choices - Drug Education: Teacher Booklet - This resource has been developed to inform and educator teachers about illegal drugs and prevent and reduce the harms associated with illegal drug use.
  • OPHEA is working on providing teachers with instructional, classroom-based resources to support the delivery of cannabis education to their students through the Health and Physical Education (H&PE) curriculum (from grades 1 -12). Ophea is aiming to have resources available in Fall 2018. 

Where do I refer a student who may need help?


Illicit Fentanyl in Our Community

The presence of illicit (non-prescription) fentanyl and other illicit drugs containing fentanyl have been identified within Hastings and Prince Edward Counties and surrounding regions.  Fentanyl can be fatal even in small amounts.  

Curiosity and risk taking are a normal part of the teen and young adult years.  The teenage brain continues to develop throughout the early part of adulthood – especially the areas in charge of impulse control.  A student may find themselves in a risky situation where alcohol and drugs may be available. 

Talk to students about the risks of drug use and overdose.  Fact sheets are available to help lead classroom discussions, to share with parents, and for students themselves.

Help reduce the risk of overdose – educate students about the drug; the signs of an overdose; and what to do if someone is in trouble.  Get a Lifesaver kit.