Many adolescents will experiment with alcohol, other drugs and gambling. It is not unusual for some students to share very personal experiences. It is important to provide a clear message that personal sharing is okay. Some students may only require an opportunity to name their experience. For most students, having you validate their thoughts or feelings is all that is required. Others may need more structured support. Fellow teachers, school guidance counsellors, social workers, staff from the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, or other local resources may be able to provide further support when needed.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when discussing alcohol, drugs or gambling:
- Avoid scare tactics and “just say no” messages
- Give an objective, balanced approach
- Share information in a non-judgmental, objective and empathic manner that invites students to share beliefs and experiences
- Avoid simplistic messages that ignore the complex factors that contribute to experimentation or abuse of substances
- Use facilitative rather than directive skills and ask what students think rather than sharing your own opinion
- Highlight key ideas, clarify responses or correct any misconceptions