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Adolescent Medicine

Teen Q & A

Relationships, Depression and Suicidal thoughts  

Bullying and Abuse

Sexual Orientation

Pregnancy, Abortion and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Gambling, Smoking and Substance Abuse 

 

I often think about suicide, is it normal and what can I do?

Many young people think about death and may think about committing suicide, especially if they are very stressed, a relationship has ended or there has been another loss or death in their lives.  If it is a fleeting thought, you probably don’t need to worry.  However, if you are planning how to kill yourself, have written a will, missing important events like school or being with friends or feeling that the world (and your family) would be better off without you, YOU MUST TALK TO AN ADULT ABOUT THIS RIGHT AWAY!
Killing yourself will have a devastating effect on the people who love you and is totally permanent.

If suicide is on your mind often or every day, if it’s a powerful feeling or if you really feel it’s the only solution to your problems, then you have to do something about it and get some help and support.  There are other ways of dealing with your pain.

  • Tell someone (a parent, teacher or health care professional) how you’re feeling and ask for help
  • Call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868
  • Call a Crisis or Distress Centre.  In Ontario, you can visit http://www.dcontario.org/centres.html
  • Remember how much you mean to people… your friends, your sister or brother, your Mom or Dad, grandparents and others. You may forget this when you are really sad, but there are people who care
  • Remember that the pain your are feeling at a time like this is really intense and it feels like it’ll last forever, but the pain will go away with help.

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What can I do about my friend who told me he is suicidal and made me promise not to tell anyone?

This is a pretty scary thing to hear from a friend. And it leaves you in an awkward position, torn between the danger of losing your friend for good and the risk of losing your friendship if the promise is broken.

First thing to do is not to panic. Take a deep breath and stay calm.  Be positive and understanding. Let them know that you care, because suicidal people usually feel alone and isolated, thinking there is no way out of their problems and nobody to help. Explain to them that no matter what they might think, they are important to you and many others; and if they die, you will miss them dearly.

You need to make sure that your friend receives some sort of psychological help to get them through their suicidal feelings. So you're going to have to tell someone. Talk to an adult who you can trust, a counsellor, your parent, a teacher, a doctor, a youth group leader. Tell them what your friend has told you.

If you think that your friend is in immediate danger of killing him or herself, tell their parents or take your friend to the emergency department of your local hospital.

If they are angry about this, tell them that you care enough about them to save their life.

You can call Kids Help Phone to know if you are doing the right thing or if you have problems deciding what to do.

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

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I feel down. I don’t have any energy and I don’t really care about anything, I’m tired of feeling this way. Is there anything I can do?

You aren’t alone and there is help available! Feeling down or getting depressed is a normal response to many things, including disappointments at school or with friends, stresses of exams, uncomfortable or hurtful social situations, and family fights. But you don't always recognize that that is what is really getting you down and, instead, you focus on how you look, what you weigh, or how unfit you feel. Trying to fix these things will just delay getting help.

When you feel depressed it is often hard to be energetic or to do something that will make you feel better. Sometimes the things we try actually make us feel worse, for example alcohol or substance use, overeating, or getting angry at your family or friends.

The most important thing you can do is to find someone trustworthy you can talk to about what’s on your mind. If you like your family doctor, this is a good place to start.  Otherwise a guidance counsellor, one of your parents or another trusted adult can also be of help struggle alone, you might be surprised to realize other people have the same concerns as you. If you can’t think of anyone to talk to, try calling the Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868). There’s always someone there to talk to.

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

Dealing with Depression

http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/InfoBooth/Emotional-Health/Feeling-Sad.aspx

Here is some great youth-friendly information about the symptoms of depression, what causes it and how you can treat it.

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I am always tired:  Am I sick?

Young people these days have very busy lives.  It is not uncommon to feel tired all the time, and usually this doesn’t mean that you are sick. Here are some things to think about:

Are you getting enough sleep?
Not getting enough sleep is one of the most common reasons you may always feel tired.  We know that you need at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to be able to think and act well. Many things can interfere with getting a full 8 hours- schoolwork, sports, your busy social life, and a love of social media! What helps is having a regular routine before you go to sleep (like reading or listening to music), going to bed at the same time every night, closing Facebook and turning off your cellphone!

Are you trying to do too much and are stressed out?
Between school, work, volunteer commitments, practice and whatever else you have going on, you have a million commitments. This doesn’t leave you much time to relax and rest, and chances are you feel at least a little stressed.  You may need to cut down on some of your activities and allow yourself time to relax a little.

Are you depressed?
Another reason for feeling tired is feeling down or depressed.  You may find you’re sleeping too much or you can’t fall asleep at night.  Maybe you don’t enjoy the things you used to, you feel sad all the time, or your appetite has changed.  You may not be able to concentrate, and your grades may have dropped.  You may be thinking about hurting yourself.  If you have any of these signs or think you may be depressed, talk to your school counselor, school nurse, doctor, your parents or another adult you trust.  They will be able to get you help.

Are you eating properly?
Not eating properly is another common reason young people may feel tired.  Eating fast food for lunch and dinner every day is not a healthy diet.  You may not get the nutrition you need, leaving you feeling tired and run down.  If you are dieting, some diets are unhealthy, and don’t provide enough nutritious foods to eat.  If you are dieting or losing weight, it might be helpful to talk to your school nurse or your health care provider about healthy eating.

Do you have a healthy lifestyle?
If you spend most of your free time watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet, then you may actually feel tired.  It is important to have a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, and good nutrition and eating habits.   

Is there a medical reason for being tired?
There are many medical reasons for being tired, but they aren’t as likely as the other things we’ve already mentioned. Some of the possible causes are:  

  • Anemia (low amounts of red blood cells)
  • Low thyroid hormone
  • Mono (“kissing disease”) or other viral infections

If a lack of sleep, being stressed, feeling depressed, poor nutrition or an unhealthy lifestyle don’t seem to be the reason you’re feeling tired (or if you have other symptoms you’re worried about), it is important that you see your health care provider.

Other Resources:

Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating
Canada’s Physical Activity Guide for Youth

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How can I stop constantly fighting with my parents?

Quarrels and quibbling have always been part of the family scene. In fact, your desires and demands do not always correspond with the limits your parents want to impose.  You may want more freedom, while your parents are perhaps worried about your safety. It is normal to argue but too much can become exhausting and counterproductive.

  • Approach your parents when no one is angry to talk about their rules/expectations of you
  • Ask about their values
  • Remind them that you are growing up and are ready to take on more responsibility. 
  • Negotiate calmly
  • Listen to their point of view without interrupting.
  • Then ask them to listen while you clearly state your own point of view
  • Be willing to compromise on a solution you can all accept

Include your parents in your life
Parents don’t need all the details but they feel reassured if they have some information from you. Tell them about your friends and introduce them. Let parents know where you are going and how to contact you.

Be truthful
Parents will trust you if you are honest with them.When your plans change let them know and if you will be late for curfew telephone them ahead of time to explain. When you break a rule that has been agreed to, admit it and accept the consequences.

If it still doesn’t work, talk to an adult, consult a professional.
If you and your parents have tried hard but still cannot agree, ask for advice from a professional at school or in the health clinic. If there is a serious problems in your family speak to an adult you can trust.
For more information or help:

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

Kids Help Phone is Canada's only toll-free, national telephone counseling service for children and youth. This site offers a forum for kids: experiencing violence, either at home or in their communities; struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse; dealing with issues related to suicide. Tips for parents and others, common warning signs, and advice on what to do if you suspect someone you know is at risk of committing suicide are featured.

This FAQ has been developed by the Youth Affiliate consortium of the Canadian Health Network, especially by The Canadian Association for Adolescent Health; Kids Help Phone; McCreary Center Society, Vancouver; la section de médecine de l’adolescence de l’hôpital Ste-Justine, Montréal; the Adolescent Division of the Toronto Sick Children Hospital; TeenNet, University of Toronto.


My teen’s behaviour has really changed this past year and it worries me. Is this normal adolescence or something else?

Adolescence is a time of great physical and hormonal changes.  You can expect to see increased moodiness,sensitivity,rebelliousness,experimentation and drive for independence. This is all normal.

Some signs may require professional help:

1]  pervasive sadness
2]  pre-occupation with death
3]  sudden change of friends
4]  change in appetite/sleeping patterns
5]  lack of energy
6]  drug/alcohol abuse
7]  getting into trouble at school/with the law

Some situational changes may lead to changes in Teen behavior: parental divorce, death of a loved one, loss of friends due to a move, being bullied or sex. harrassed/assaulted.
It is important to maintain open lines of communication with your teen even if they don’t appear to want it.

Positive attention helps give teens the resilience to overcome the difficult transition to adulthood.

Some other resources for questions about adolescent behaviour are:

This FAQ has been developed by the Youth Affiliate consortium of the Canadian Health Network, namely TeenNet, University of Toronto, The Canadian Association for Adolescent Health; McCreary Center Society, Vancouver; la section de médecine de l’adolescence de l’hôpital Ste-Justine, Montréal; the Adolescent Medicine Division of the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto; Kids Help Phone.

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How can I cope with the fact that my boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with me?

The break-up of any relationship is hard no matter how long you have been dating. It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions such as anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt and confusion. You may wonder if you did anything to cause the relationship to end but you may not even have done anything ‘wrong’.  Relationships end for many reasons: personalities don’t match, interests and priorities change, or people grow in different directions. You may feel like you’ll never find another person to love again, but remember that you’re not alone.  Many people have gone through what you’re going through, and it may take time but people learn to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.

Here are some suggestions to help you cope with your break-up:

  • Keep busy. Get involved in new activities and projects that interest you.  This is also a good way to meet new people and make new friends. Do a favourite activity or sports.  This will help give you an outlet for your negative feelings.
  • Spend time with your friends and go out with them, even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Make a change in your life: rearrange your room, get your hair cut, etc.
  • Avoid saying mean things to your ex-girl/boyfriend; you may regret it in the end. You can wait before destroying photos or throwing away gifts you have received. You may want them later as souvenirs. Instead, put these personal things in a box and store it out of sight.
  • Express yourself and your thoughts. Share your feelings with your friends or write about them in a journal.  Talk with a teacher or an adult that you trust who cares about you. Talk to someone who’s gone through the same thing and see how they were able to move on.
  • Be patient and kind with yourself – give yourself time to start feeling better

If you feel as though you have been very upset for a very long time or if you feel so badly that you wonder if life is worth living, you should get some help and support. If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, it’s very important to get support from someone you trust.  You may want to talk with a friend or trusted adult, like a parent, teacher or counsellor.  You can also call Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868).

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I want to break up with my girlfriend or boyfriend, what should I do?

Feeling loved and not wanting to be rejected is important for everyone. It always hurts when we are told that the special someone in our life no longer loves us, just as it is hard to put an end to a relationship. Here are some things to consider if you are thinking of ending a relationship:

  1. Choose the right place and the right time to tell your partner your decision. Let them know in advance that you have something important to say.
  2. Be sincere, honest and simple in your words. Explain clearly the reasons why you want to end the relationship. It is also possible that you may not know why you have stopped loving them. In this case, you can always let them know that you appreciate the moments that you shared together but that your feelings for them have changed.
  3. Try to understand and empathize with their emotions and consider how you may feel if you were in their position. Even if your feelings for them have changed, it doesn’t mean that their feelings for you have also changed. It is possible that the person you are ending the relationship with may feel guilty for what happened and as a result feel depressed or worthless. Explain to them that you want to end the relationship because it doesn’t feel right anymore, not because they are worthless. Clarify the difference between who you are as a separate person and what you two have shared together. They should not feel responsible because you don’t like them anymore or because your relationship does not make sense to you anymore.
  4. Take the time to listen carefully to what your friend has to say and reply gently but directly with your own opinions. Be aware of when the conversation starts feeling like it’s going around in circles. This is not helpful to either of you and you may want to gently end the conversation or suggest talking about it when they have had time understand what you have shared.

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What happens if the person I’m ending the relationship with is having trouble coping with the break up?

If the person expresses their distress when facing the break-up, you can encourage them to talk about their feelings to someone they trust. It is however not helpful for them to stay sad and depressed for a very long time. If they really feel life is not worth living or threaten you by voicing these type of thoughts, then strongly suggest that they speak to a professional or an adult they trust about it.

You can always recommend the “Kids Help Phone”. You can be sure that there are people who will listen to you and gives you advices on helping your ex.

You should not stay in a relationship out of pity or because you feel as though you “have to” stay. Being truthful with your friend about how you feel about the relationship is an act of respect to yourself and to them.

For more information or help:

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

Kids Help Phone is Canada's only toll-free, national telephone counselling service for children and youth. This site offers a forum for kids: experiencing violence, either at home or in their communities; struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse; dealing with issues related to suicide. Tips for parents and others, common warning signs, and advice on what to do if you suspect someone you know is at risk of committing suicide are featured.

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How can I help a friend who is having a hard time living a break up with his/her partner?

Try to understand and listen

Try to understand your friend’s emotions and pain. This might not be easy since your friend will tell you that nobody can understand their sorrow. Just remember that they are still your friend and that you know him/her and that they have not changed because of this break-up. Perhaps you can understand what they’re going through because you have been through the same situation before.

Your friend could be also be wanting to re-live their story between now and those first flirts, telling themselves that they will never find someone like this again. Be patient with them and gently remind them that in time they will feel more ready to move on.

Help your friend to understand the difference between who they are as an individual and not to be focused simply on who they were in their relationship.

Gently point out to your friend that there are other things in their life, other encounters that will keep them away from the thought of what they have lost and help them move on. Of course that task may seem impossible for your friend to do at this moment but slowly with time, they will see things differently.

Here are some ideas to help your friend to cope with the break-up

  • Support your friend to recognize their emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, anxiety, fear of being alone
  • Encourage them to not dwell on the past and keep thinking about the same thing over and over again. Try to help them keep their mind busy with things they are interested in such as activities or relationships with other friends
  • Take your friend out. If they don’t feel like it, keep on insisting. Go shopping, go see a funny movie, participate in a favourite sport or physical activity
  • Suggest that your friend consider making a change to something in their life such as a new haircut, or decorating their room
  • Listen and offer support. You can even share your own experience and tell them how you have managed to find the way out of a break-up or mourning. Your friend isn’t the only one who is in such a situation.
  • It is not useful to say negative comments about your friend’s ex, because that person may still mean a lot to your friend.
  • Be patient with your friend. He/she likely feels as though they will never find someone like this again. With time, they will see by themselves that it is possible.

If your friend continues to stay sad for a very long time or makes comments about how they feel that their life is not worth living, then encourage your friend to talk with an adult or a professional. You can also talk to an adult that you trust as well to ask for advice on how best to help your friend. There is always “Kids Help Phone”. You can be sure that there are people who will listen to you and gives you advices on helping your friend.

For more information or help:

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

Kids Help Phone is Canada's only toll-free, national telephone counselling service for children and youth. This site offers a forum for kids: experiencing violence, either at home or in their communities; struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse; dealing with issues related to suicide. Tips for parents and others, common warning signs, and advice on what to do if you suspect someone you know is at risk of committing suicide are featured.

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How can I help my teenager avoid being pressured by other teenagers to do things that may harm them, like drinking or taking drugs?

No parent wants their adolescent to get involved in tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. However in reality, your teenager likely spends more time with his/her friends than with you, thus exposing them to opportunities involving peer pressure. This can lead them to do things behind your back that you may not like. How can you prevent this from happening without being overprotective or compromising his or her social life? How can you counteract peer pressure?

Peer pressure

Peer pressure is what happens when people from someone’s age group try to influence how they think or what they do. It affects everyone but particularly teens because it is a time in life when they highly value acceptance especially by their peers. However, peer pressure cannot explain everything that is happening with your son or daughter. Friends are usually a positive factor in the life of an adolescent and an important aspect of his/her development.

Teenagers are curious

Being curious and experimentation are both characteristics of the adolescent stage of development. Teenagers are in the process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood and are eager to try everything and anything in this new world that they are discovering. This may include tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. You can address their desire for experience and knowledge by talking openly to them about it. Be clear in your discussion about the consequences of those things on their health and ultimately, their life. Establish clear limits and age appropriate consequences for your teen while they live with you. This will help you support them to follow the guidelines in your home. Establish a mutual trust between you and your teen, let them know that you love them and are confident that they will make the right choice for no one else but themselves.
Build self esteem

One way to help your adolescent deal with peer pressure is by helping them build their self-esteem. Young people with high self-esteem handle peer pressure better than those with low self-esteem. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Let them know you are proud of them and that you trust them.
  • Praise them for their good moves rather than criticizing them for their mistakes.
  • Keep lines of communication open.
  • Let them participate in the decision making process.

Know their friends

Teens are starting to learn everything about being in relationships with others during this period of their life and their friends are extremely important to them. Being familiar with who your teen is friends with can help you deal with peer pressure. Encourage your teen to invite their friends over to your home, make your home a welcoming place, talk with their friends so you know a bit about their interests and activities. This will help you have an idea who your daughter or son is hanging out with.

Discuss with your adolescent about how to say no in certain situations, especially if it is a situation where they feel pressured. Teens look for acceptance from their peers and saying no might decrease this level of acceptance in their group or even lead to their exclusion. Explain to your kids that saying no won’t make them lose their friends; because real friends don’t abandon each other just because of such small differences of opinion. True friends are supposed to support and respect each other while having fun together, not to force or to pressure each other into things they don’t want to. However, recognize that in some instances that may be a difficult truth for your teen to accept and it may feel more important for them to “give in” and be accepted. Be patient and continue to support your teen.
Help them make decisions

Another important thing you can do is help your adolescent make decisions for themselves. Teach them how to look at their options. Point out that whatever they decide, they must be willing to face what happens. Here are some things you should ask them to think about as they make decisions about things like drinking and drugs.

  • What will happen if they choose one option or the other?
  • What are the positive and negative consequences of their actions?
  • How will they feel the next day?
  • Will they get into trouble with their parents, friends or teacher?
  • Will they put themselves or someone else in danger?

The best way to teach them to make decisions is to allow them to make decisions at home and in family affairs.
Parents: Be models for your teen

As parents, you set an extremely important role model for your teens. If you don’t want them to smoke, then quit smoking first. Teach them moderation and self control with alcohol. You just can’t forbid them something that you actually do in front of them every day. They won’t listen. Even though teens may not admit it, they do listen and watch what you do, and they learn from your example.

The time has come for the kids to grow up and make their own path in life. It is as much of a transition for parents as it is for the teen. You may not be as close to them as compared to before they became teenagers but this does not mean you can’t guide them through important choices and decisions in life.

As you go through these trials with your son or daughter, keep communication open and positive. Encourage him or her to become independent, but keep some age appropriate limits in place too. In this way, you will help them start to do things on their own and learn self-control.

For more information:

To find ways to deal with peer pressure and to look at the benefits of positive peer pressure go to Child & Family Canada. CFC is a diverse group of non-profit organizations whose membership bases are very different but whose missions are firmly rooted in a commitment to the well-being of Canada's children and their families. We have come together on the World Wide Web under the banner of Child & Family Canada knowing that together we can reach a very broad audience. To find ways to deal with peer pressure and to look at the benefits of positive peer pressure go to visit the CFC site.

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)
Kids Help Phone is Canada's only toll-free, national telephone counseling service for children and youth. This site offers a forum for kids: experiencing violence, either at home or in their communities; struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse; dealing with issues related to suicide. Tips for parents and others are featured.

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What can I do if I am being hit by my boyfriend?

Beating up someone to make a point or to impose something is a common phenomenon in our society, even in seemingly love relationships.

Everybody will tell you to break up. But love is not always so simple. What if your feelings for him are too overwhelming? What if you believe you will never find someone to love again? What if the act of violence that occurred was just an accident? What if you believe all is your fault and excused him? What could you do?

Love, jealousy and violence

Jealousy is one of the most common reasons for violence in a relationship. Many victims of violence in romantic relationships believe that jealousy is a sign that their partner loves them. Jealousy and violence are not ways that partners show their love, but ways that boys use their power over and intimidate their girlfriends.

Sometimes the girls take blame on themselves. Do not believe it is your fault, even if you did some mistakes in the relationship it still doesn’t give him the right to hit you.

Violence in your relationship is not always because your boyfriend is a mean or bad person. It could be that he does not know any other way to communicate with you. Sometimes when he feels like he is loosing control of the relationship or over you, he will use violence to take back some control of the situation; this is not acceptable behaviour. Sometimes it is because he needs to dominate, and this is a serious problem.

No matter what the reason behind it, there is no excuse to hit you, his girlfriend. No one deserves to be physically abused.

You should know that…

It is not your fault that you are being hit. You should not stay in the relation because you feel guilty of what happens.

You are in a dangerous position. If you stay in the relationship you may be hit more. We know that if violence happened once, it is likely to happen again. It may also get worse overtime.

Love is funded on trust, respect and understanding, not on violence or domination. Respect is fundamental in a love relationship. Respecting you is first and foremost respecting your physical integrity, your body.

The issue of breaking up remains your personal choice. There is nothing harder than being torn between the choice of staying or leaving in a love relationship. Perhaps you have many explanations for the outburst of violence. But violence will never solve anything.

What can you do?

Why not talk to friends about it and ask them to help you. Together, you could find an adult to help you. Ask about their opinion. Perhaps you are blinded by the situation because you love him.

Do you fell like breaking up, or do you think there is still is a chance to fix up the relationship. Try to judge the situation by yourself or with the help of a friend or a trusted adult. Try to discuss it with your boyfriend.

If you think it is best to end the relationship, break it, even if for a while you could have a hard time. Friends will help you out.

On the other hand if you choose to stay, then a lot of things must be worked out in order to have a healthy relationship and keep you safe.

  • The first thing to do is to ask for respect. If he respects you, and loves you, he will not hurt you.
  • He needs professional help. He can consult a psychologist or a counsellor. Also there are organizations that have services and group therapy for men who are violent in their love relationships.
  • Also, you could benefit from counseling, to be able to sort out your feelings, not feel guilty and increase your self-confidence and your self-esteem.
  • If you decide to stay in the relation and nothing good happens; if therapy is not going anywhere; if the risks are high that violence will occur again or if it occurs again, then, you should talk to an adult and seriously consider leaving him.

Love, neither aggression nor violence

It is not always easy when it comes to love and relationships, but you can try, you and your boyfriend, to go through all this and move on to have a normal life filled with love. If deep in your heart you believe things can be changed and understood between you, do your best to make it happen. If not, it is hard to say goodbye but do it. Because you deserve love, neither aggression nor violence.

If you are looking for more help you can talk to your school counsellor, a youth clinic, a school nurse or call Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868).

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How can I help my friend who is being hit by her boyfriend and doesn’t want to break up with him?

Relationships should be fun and exciting.  They should be about love, romance, and respect.  Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy, and many people, mainly women, become involved in abusive relationships.  No matter what the reason behind it, there is no excuse to hit anyone, no matter what gender, race, culture or sexual orientation. No one deserves to be physically abused.

What can you do for your friend?

Your friend is in a dangerous position. If she stays in the relationship, she may be hit more. We know that if violence happens once, it’s likely to happen again. It can also get worse over time.

  • Your friend may not realize that there’s something wrong in her relationship.  You can give her information and examples of abuse in relationships http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/en/informed/sub_relationship.asp?sec=3&sb=2
  • Tell your friend that:
    • You believe her and that you want to help in whatever way you can.
    • It’s not her fault that she’s being abused.
    • Jealousy and violence aren’t signs that her boyfriend loves her.
    • You care about her and are worried about her safety.
  • Don't be negative about your friend's partner.
  • Listen to her talk about her relationship. Then let her know your opinion on it.
  • The issue of breaking up remains her personal choice. Don't be judgmental about your friend's choice to stay in the relationship. 
  • Your friend can ask for respect in her relationship; this means that her partner has to respect her body and not hit her.
  • Your friend and her boyfriend need professional help if they decide to stay together. You can suggest that her boyfriend consult a psychologist or a counsellor and help her find one. Also, there are groups for men who are violent in their relationships.
  • Whether she stays in the relationship or not, your friend could benefit from counselling for herself, to be able to sort out her feelings, not feel guilty and increase her self-confidence and her self-esteem.
  • You may want to talk to an adult you trust or call Kids help Phone (1-800-668-6868).

Knowing that your friend is being hurt by her boyfriend isn’t easy. If you feel like you’re having trouble coping with the things your friend is telling you, it's okay to tell your friend that you don't want to be involved in this part of her life. Make sure that she’s not left to deal with this on her own. Making this choice will probably hurt your friendship, but if you can't handle hearing about your friend being abused, it's okay to draw the line.

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What can you do?

Well you can actually do a lot.

Your friend is in a dangerous position. If she stays in the relationship she may be hit more. We know that if violence happened once, it is likely to happen again. It can also get worse overtime.

  • What your friend needs from you right now is support. Let your friend know that you care about her, that you love her and you are worried about her safety.
  • Tell your friend that you believe her and that you want to help in whatever way you can.
  • Tell your friend that it is not her fault that she is being abused.
  • Don't be negative about your friend's partne
  •  Listen to her talk about her relationship. Then let her know your opinion on it.
  • The issue of breaking up remains her personal choice. Don't be judgmental about your friend's choice to stay in the relationship. We can’t turn our love on and off overnight. There is nothing harder than being torn between staying or leaving in a love relationship. For you it is not love, but she probably has many explanations for the outburst of violence.
  • You may explain to her without any judgement, that violence will never solve anything. Tell her love is funded on trust, respect and understanding, not on violence or domination. Respect is fundamental in a love relationship. Respecting a person is first and foremost respecting her physical integrity, her body. If she decides to stay, you can tell her that the best thing to do is to ask for respect.
  • Your friend and her boyfriend need professional help if they decide to stay together. You can tell your friend that her boyfriend should consult a psychologist or a counsellor and help her find one. Also there are groups for men who are violent in their relationships.
  • Whether she stays or not in the relationship, tell your friend she could benefit from counselling for herself, to be able to sort out her feelings, not feel guilty and increase her self-confidence and her self-esteem.
  • If the risks are high that violence will occur again or if it occurs again, then, to help your friend, you should talk to an adult you trust or call Kids help Phone (1-800-668-6868).

Knowing that your friend is being hurt by her boyfriend is pretty hard to deal with. If you feel like you are having trouble coping with the things your friend is telling you, it's okay to tell your friend that you don't want to be involved in this part of her life. Make sure that she is not left to deal with this on her own. Making this choice will probably hurt your friendship, but if you can't handle hearing about your friend being abused it's okay to draw the line.

It is not always easy when it comes to love and relationships, but you can make it a little easier for your friend to go through all this and move on to have a normal life, with love rather than aggression or violence.

For more information or help:

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

Kids Help Phone is Canada's only toll-free, national telephone counselling service for children and youth. This site offers a forum for kids: experiencing violence, either at home or in their communities; struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse; dealing with issues related to suicide. Tips for parents and others, common warning signs, and advice on what to do if you suspect someone you know is at risk of committing suicide are featured.

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What can I do if I’m being bullied and picked on by other kids at school?

Types of bullying: you may be victim of one or more of these five types of bullying:

  1. Verbal bullying can include calling names, teasing and spreading rumours
  2. Emotional bullying is leaving someone out of things (games, team sports), making fun of them or humiliating them, and threatening them
  3. Racial bullying is about racist taunts or graffiti
  4. Sexual bullying means unwanted contact or rude personal comments
  5. Physical bullying is related to physical violence, hitting, pushing, stealing

If you are bullied:

  • You may feel mad, sad, or start to feel depressed
  • You may develop low self-esteem
  • It may affect your school work, attendance and performance

Bullying is not your fault:

It is a form of aggression against you. It is not normal and not acceptable. Unfortunately, the problem will not go away by itself. You might suffer a long time if you don’t act upon it.

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What to do? How can you bully proof yourself?

  • It is not a sign of weakness to get help. Talk about your problem to your parents, a school counsellor, the school nurse, a teacher or Call Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Learn to walk away rather than take the abuse
  • Stay with a group.  Bullies prefer one-on-one contact
  • Talk directly, briefly and with confidence to the bully. Role play with your parent or another adult or friends to demonstrate how you can appear confident and assertive. But do not resort to violence against the bully; the situation could simply get worse

For Parents: If you suspect your adolescent is being bullied

  • Try to get them to talk about their problem and fears.
  • Let them know you believe them and that it is not their fault.
  • Support their feelings; do not diminish them by saying the bully is only teasing.
  • Remember that chances are bullying will not go away by itself.
  • Talk to your teacher or the school principal. School authorities are more and more aware of this problem and it is their responsibility to take action against this form of violence.

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How can I know if I am homosexual, bisexual or lesbian?

As every teenager, you are going through a time of your life questioning who you are and who you will become.

It can be a time filled with anxiety and questions but also full of marvellous moments and new experiences. It is true that during this period, you could have some doubts about your look, about what others think of you, and about being accepted by peers of your age. You could be preoccupied by questions on sexual desires, romantic relationships and initiating sexual activities. It is normal.

At this time of life, friends begin to talk about their attraction for the opposite sex. For those who already question their sexual orientation or identify themselves as homosexual, it makes things even harder. Over and above all the fears and concerns everyone must face, they also have to assert themselves while being confronted to the judgement of a society that sometimes despises homosexuals. The homophobic (anti-homosexual) reactions from family members, friends and the society are frightening.

Take your time

If you have more attraction and if you feel more sexual desires for same sex persons, you are right to ask yourself if you have homosexual tendencies. It is also possible that you feel attracted to both sexes: we speak then of bisexual tendencies. But no matter what you discover in you or what you feel, it is important not to panic. It is acceptable to feel this way and to have such desires.

Adolescence is a time of change, curiosity and discovery. It means your sexual preferences might also change. There could be sexual experiences with the same sex partners, without concluding that you are homosexual. At your age, it is normal to be uncertain about sexual preferences. You don’t have to make a final decision now.

Take the time to think about it. Be honest with yourself. Analyze your own homophobic feelings. You may have heard all these things about homosexuals and they can scare you or trouble your mind.

Think about your own homophobic judgement if you have any, since you may have heard or believe things on homosexuality and it can trouble your mind.

Do you feel that you really and constantly tend to be attracted sexually to persons of your own sex? If it is the case and if you have taken the time needed and you feel that you are certain of your desires, then, it is very possible that you are homosexual.

And what if you are homosexual?

If you are homosexual, the biggest problem is to accept yourself. You also need to adapt yourself to live a normal and happy life like everybody else. But first of all, one thing is clear: no matter what the others say or think, you are neither mad nor sick. Remember, our society is sometimes homophobic (anti-homosexual); so you will hear many lies. And especially, it is not of your fault if you are homosexual.

However, you are entirely responsible for your own happiness and future. Try to ignore what the others may think of you. Rather, pay attention to your own life, to people close to you and to your own interests. Learn to love and respect yourself and others will respect you in return. You have your own qualities and strengths, homosexuality is only one aspect of you and it is not a weakness. It is easier said than done, but it is not impossible. Affirm yourself gradually.

If you have sexual activities, it is necessary to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases. Keep informed and don't take risk. It is also on this issue of self-protection that you must learn to be assertive.

Talk about it to someone you trust

Even if you are certain about your sexual orientation or if you still have doubts, if you believe it could help and you are ready to talk about it, don’t hesitate to do so. It could be your parents, a doctor, a nurse at school, a friend, or whoever you trust that isn’t homophobic and who is able to help without judging you. Talking about it may help you put together your thoughts and feelings. The person to whom you talk might help you looking for organizations in your region that provide support to young homosexuals.

It is hard to be different in a society that praises heterosexuality. Perhaps you feel you are the only homosexual around, while in fact there are many homosexuals in your community. Many organizations are engaged into fighting injustice and discrimination towards homosexuals because this discrimination has no reason to be. After all, no matter our sexual orientation, we are human beings with equal rights and we all deserve to be equally treated and respected.

You can be happy and there are people willing to help you out, talk about it.

For more information or help:

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

Kids Help Phone is Canada's only toll-free, national telephone counselling service for children and youth. This site offers a forum for kids: experiencing violence, either at home or in their communities; struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse; dealing with issues related to suicide and others. Tips for parents and others are featured.

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What to do if my friend told me he or she is homosexual or lesbian?

Teenagers are in a time of their life questioning who they are and who they will become.

It can also be a time filled with anxiety and doubts but also full of marvelous moments and of new experiences. It is true that during this period, teens could have some questions about their appearance, what others think of them, and about being accepted by peers of their age. Teens can be preoccupied by questions on sexual desires, romantic relationships and initiating sexual activities. It is normal.

At this time, friends begin to talk about their attraction to the opposite sex. For those who already question their sexual orientation or identify themselves as homosexual, it makes things even harder. Over and above all the fears and concerns everyone must face, they also have to assert themselves while being confronted to the judgment of a society that sometimes despises homosexuals. The homophobic (anti-homosexual) reactions from family members, from friends and from the society are frightening.

Your first reaction

Normally, your first reaction would probably be to laugh and say “funny”. But if you realize it is really not a joke, it could be a shock. And you won’t know what to say.

Right after that, all kind of thoughts runs through your mind. What others will say if they know that you have a gay or lesbian friend? And then you could wonder if your friend has some sexual desire for you. Disturbing maybe? It could also be that you question yourself on this issue, but you are not ready to speak of it. You could then be tempted to reject your friend.

No need to panic

But don’t panic. Among all these reactions, none would help your friend. Remember that they trusted you enough to confide a very personal secret that probably scared them. It is possible that your friend does not even feel capable of speaking to their parents about it. They are probably going through a sexual orientation crisis and need you to listen and to support.

You need to know that…

One’s sexual orientation is not an illness. A homosexual person doesn’t suffer from madness. Your friend is still the same person you have known for long. Their personality didn’t change, their qualities are still the same, and their faults are not worse than before. Homosexuality only means that in one aspect of their life - sexuality, your friend has a preference for same sex persons.

Adolescence is a time of changes, curiosity and discoveries. It means that sexual preferences might change over time. At this age, it is normal to be uncertain about one’s sexual orientation. Your friend might only be at this stage.

The biggest problem for your friend is to accept himself or herself in order to live a normal and happy life as everyone else. Remember that we live in a homophobic society, thus we hear all kind of lies about homosexuality. And above all, it is not your friend’s fault that he or she is homosexual.

However, your friend is entirely responsible for their own happiness and future. They should try to ignore what others may think of them. They should rather pay attention to their own life, to people close to them and to their own interests. If they learn to love and respect themselves, others will respect them more easily. Your friend has his or her own qualities and strengths and homosexuality is not a weakness. It is easier said than done, but it is not impossible.

Stay friend

It is normal if you feel uncomfortable with the sexual orientation of your friend. You can tell him or her that it is a shock, but that you are ready to listen and to remain his or her friend. It is already a lot. Often, it is the only thing you have to do and it is all that your friend wants. If possible, don't change anything in your friendship. It is important that you stay yourself otherwise your friendship might suffer from it.

Tell them that it is not an illness, that it is not their fault. Insist on their qualities and capacities. Help and encourage your friend to affirm and respect themselves.

You can encourage them to be part of a group of young gays and lesbians in school or in the community. If your friend has other worries beyond your capacity, tell your friend that it would be better to consult a professional, a physician, a psychologist, a nurse or to contact an organization that takes care of young gays and lesbians.

It is up to you to decide what you want for your friendship. But if you stay friends, without being too influenced by the difference of your sexual orientation and the homophobic remarks of others, you show your friend how important he or she is to you.

For more information or help:

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

Kids Help Phone is Canada's only toll-free, national telephone counseling service for children and youth. This site offers a forum for kids: experiencing violence, either at home or in their communities; struggling with alcohol and/or drug abuse; dealing with issues related to suicide and others. Tips for parents and others are featured.

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How do I know if I am pregnant and what can I do?

If you are having sex, then you may get pregnant.  No birth control method is 100% effective.  If you have unprotected sex, your chances of getting pregnant are higher. Unprotected sex means that:

  • you didn’t use any birth control
  • the condom broke
  • you missed two or more birth control pills in a row
  • you were late for your birth control shot (depo-provera)

If you’ve had unprotected sex less than one week ago, then you should see your doctor or go to a clinic if you want to prevent a pregnancy.  They may be able to give you emergency contraception.

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How do I know if I am pregnant?

You may be pregnant if your period is late, or you are having symptoms such as feeling tired, having nausea, urinating (peeing) more, or having sensitive breasts.

You should go to a doctor or the school clinic for a pregnancy test. You can also go to a Women’s Clinic or the Public Health Clinic. Depending on your situation, the doctor or nurse will have you do either a urine or blood test. These tests are very precise and can detect a pregnancy usually a week after a missed period. The blood test can even detect a pregnancy earlier, sometimes just 7 days after unprotected sex.

You can also do a pregnancy test by buying it from a pharmacy. However, if it is negative and you still feel you are pregnant, or if the test is positive, you should see a doctor or a nurse to repeat the pregnancy test to be sure of the results.

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What if I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant, then you should go to your doctor or clinic.

You have three options:

1. You can continue the pregnancy and care for the baby yourself.
2. You can continue the pregnancy and give up the baby for adoption.
3. You can end the pregnancy by having an abortion.

The person you talk to should give you all the information and should present you with the pros and cons of each choice to help you make your decision. If they cannot help you, ask them to refer you to someone who knows your kind of situation. Remember your decision should be based on what’s best for you, not other people like your partner or your parents. You will live with this decision, not others.

Take time to think about it. Give yourself the permission to change your mind. Spend a day thinking how you would feel and how you would act differently if you had a baby. Then spend a day thinking how you would feel if you had an abortion.

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How do I tell my parents?

Many young people are afraid to tell their parents because they’re afraid of their reaction.  It may be helpful to talk to your partner, a friend, or an adult you trust friend first.  Although you’re the one who has to decide what to do, it may help to get other people’s opinions. You can also ask a health professional, a doctor, a nurse, a social worker, a counsellor to tell your parents, with or without you.

Every person’s situation is different, so it’s hard to predict how your parents will react.  Be prepared that this is shocking news for most parents. They will need some time to adjust.  In the end, many parents are supportive and will help out.

But if you feel that your parents will be very angry and that you may be harmed, then take a friend with you and plan ahead of time to stay at a friend’s house in case you don’t feel safe at home. In this case, it is even better to talk with a health professional and get some help. You can also contact Kids Help Phone, see their phone at 1 800 668 6868.

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Where can I go for an abortion?

Abortions are legal in Canada. Abortions are done in either hospitals or clinics. Your doctor or nurse will can give you more information about where to go in your area.  

If you have a health card, then the abortion is free if done in a hospital.  Abortions are safe if they’re done by health professionals.  Most places prefer to do them during the first trimester (before you’re 13 weeks pregnant). Some places will do an abortion up to 20 weeks, but don’t wait that long. You can either be awake or asleep when you have the abortion.

For more information, consult:

  • Your school nurse or family doctor or a youth clinic
  • Planned Parenthood Association
  • A birth control centre
  • A women's health center or the obstetric-gynecology clinic at a hospital

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How do I know if I have HIV or a sexually transmitted infection?

Sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) are passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex, meaning having vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected person without using condoms or by sharing sex toys.  You can’t get them from toilet seats or shaking hands.

There are many kinds of STI’s.  Here is a list of most of them:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Herpes Simplex Virus or HSV (causes genital herpes)
  • Human Papilloma Virus or HPV (causes genital warts)
  • Trichomonas
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Syphilis

What are the symptoms of an STI?

Many young people who have STI’s don’t show any symptoms; for some STI’s, it can be up to 50-70% who don’t show any symptoms. So they don’t know that they have an STI until it is discovered during a check up with specific testing for STI.  But they may pass on their infection to their partner without realizing it. 

For those who have symptoms, the symptoms are different for each STI.  Here are some examples:

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

These are two different bacteria or germs that can give similar symptoms.  You may have pain when you urinate (pee) or there may be discharge from the vagina or penis which may have a smell.  If these infections are not treated, they can cause major problems such as an infection of the uterus or the tube from the uterus to the ovary, leading sometimes to infertility (not being able to have children).  Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can be treated with antibiotics.

HSV

This is a family of virus that causes both cold sores on the mouth and herpes in the genitals.  There are bumps or blisters on or around the genitals which may be itchy, burning, or painful.  The virus is passed on when there is contact from the blisters to the skin around the genitals.  You may get genital herpes if you have oral sex with your partner who has cold sores.  Condoms may not prevent transmission because condoms don’t protect all the skin around the genitals.  There is no cure for herpes, but there are medicines that can make the infection less painful or make it last for a shorter period of time.

HPV

This infection causes warts in or around the genitals.  In women, if the warts are on the cervix, then you won’t know that you have them, unless you have a special test done by a doctor or nurse.  This test is called a PAP test.  Some types of HPV may cause later in life, cancers of the cervix, anus, or penis.

HIV

This virus is spread by exchange of body fluids such as blood, semen or vaginal fluids.  This can happen when you have oral, vaginal or anal sex, share needles or if you receive a blood transfusion.  Also, a pregnant woman can pass the virus to her baby during childbirth or when she breastfeeds.  It is important to know that all blood transfusions are now tested for HIV so the risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion is very very low.  You cannot get HIV from giving blood.

AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection.  This can happen many years after the virus gets into your body.  People with AIDS can get unusual infections or develop cancer.  You can get a blood test to test for HIV at your doctor’s office or in special places that do anonymous testing meaning that your name doesn’t show up on the test.  You can find these clinics by contacting your local public health department.  

For more information on HIV or AIDS, please go to:

Syphilis

Syphilis is an infection that has three stages.  In stage one, a painless sore appears at the site where the germ enters the body.  So, the sore can be the on the mouth, genitals or anus.  In stage two, there is a rash on the body, mainly on the hands and feet.  In stage three, there is heart disease or brain damage.  If syphilis is treated early with antibiotics, then it is less likely to go to the next stages.  Syphilis can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn child and can cause birth defects.

Hepatitis B and C

These viruses cause liver disease.  If you become infected, you may feel tired, lose your appetite, have stomach pain or have jaundice (yellow skin or eyes).  There is no cure, however hepatitis B can be prevented by getting a vaccine before you get exposed to the virus.

Trichomonas

This infection can produce a discharge from the genitals.  There may also be pain when you urinate (pee).  It can be treated with antibiotics.

What should I do?

If you have any symptoms or you are worried because you have had unprotected sex, it is a good idea to see your doctor to talk about getting tested.  You can also contact your local public health department to get tested, treatment, and more information. 

You can also get tested if you want to make sure everything is OK before you start a relationship with a new partner. Then both of you have to be tested.  If you are not sure of your partner, or if one of you had sex outside your relationship, then you should get tested.

Some of the tests are performed with a cotton tip trying to get some secretions form the cervix, throat, etc.. Usually these tests are best performed after 7 days of a possible contact with an STI, since they can be falsely negative if performed too soon. They are used for Chlamydia, trichomonas and Gonorrhea.

Other tests are performed through a blood test, usually drawn 6 weeks to 3 months after a possible contact with an STI. They are used for HIV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis

Remember that if you use a condom every time you have sex, there is less chance that you will get an STI.

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More information:

http://teenhealthsource.com/topics/stisetc/

Planned Parenthood

 This FAQ has been developed by the Youth Affiliate consortium of the Canadian Health Network, especially by The Canadian Association for Adolescent Healh; Kids Help Phone; McCreary Center Society, Vancouver; la section de médecine de l’adolescence de l’hôpital Ste-Justine, Montréal; the Adolescent Division of the Toronto Sick Children Hospital; TeenNet, University of Toronto.

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I think my friend may have a gambling problem.  But how do I know and what can I do?

Signs of problem gambling

There are many signs that you can look for that might indicate a gambling problem.  The signs can be related to money, how they are spending their time, and their behaviour.

Some of these signs may include:

  •  Missing money or valuables
  •  Changes in how they spend their money
  •  Changes in personality
  •  Withdrawing from friends, family or normal activities
  •  Neglecting responsibilities
  •  Arriving late for commitments
  •  Time unaccounted for
    • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
    • On edge or defensive
    • Preoccupied

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If I think my friend has a gambling problem, what can I do?

You can get more information about gambling problems. Here are two phone numbers where you can call to get more advice or information:

Kids Help Phone:  1-800-668-6868
Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline: 1-888-230-3505

You can also visit www.youthbet.net a useful website on gambling (go to the community center). The site has useful tips on what to look for and what to say to a friend.

All of these sources can help you to help your friend.

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What can I do about drinking and driving?

Drinking and driving is definitely NOT cool.  If you drink and then drive, you’re endangering yourself and everyone else on the road.  You could damage or ruin your car, or, much more importantly, injure or kill yourself, your passengers or somebody else.  If you’re charged with drinking and driving, there are serious legal consequences, like getting a criminal record and having your license suspended.

What you can do about it:

  • Make a decision not to drink if you might be driving
  • Do NOT get into a car if the driver has been drinking.  Find another way to get home safely.

Know your alternatives:

  • Plan ahead – decide with your friends who will be the designated drivers and make it easy for them not to drink.  
  • Instead of driving home, ask if you can stay overnight.
  • Take the bus or a taxi home.  Put money aside beforehand or borrow the money if you have to.
  • Phone your parents to come and pick you up.

If you’re hosting a party, you can help keep people from drinking and driving. 

  •  Have lots of non-alcoholic drinks available.  Offer juice, pop, water and mixes for ‘virgin’ drinks to your guests
  • Have lots of good food available, so people will have something to do besides drinking alcohol.  Snacks that are high in protein and carbohydrates such as cheese and crackers, chips and guacamole, or chicken wings are especially good.
  • Avoid ‘drinking games’ that involve frequent drinking of alcohol.
  • Be supportive of the people who choose to not drink or who drink less than everybody else.

For more information:

If you are interested in mobilizing action around this issue, there are lots of opportunities to do something. Here are a couple of web sites to check out to get you started.

T.A.D.D.
Teens Against Drinking & Driving
Teens Against Drinking and Driving is an organization for young adults, established to help promote awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.

T.A.D.D. is not an anti-drinking organization, instead the idea is to encourage young drivers to think before they get behind the wheel after drinking.

OSAID
Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving
OSAID, an independent registered Canadian charity, is a provincial youth driven organization that strives to promote smart decisions through public awareness in a realistic and relevant manner to prevent tragedies caused by impaired driving.

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How Can I Cut Down or Stop Drinking Alcohol Or Taking Other Drugs?

If you are thinking of stopping using alcohol and/or other drugs, or even thinking of cutting down a bit, it’s usually because you are concerned about how your use is affecting your life.  Sometimes other people like friends or parents are also worried.
Some people think that all you need is “will power” in order to stop or cut down using substances.  That’s not true.  You need to have understanding, planning, and support.

Understanding

  • It takes time for your body to get used to not having alcohol or other drugs (or having less).
  • Make a list of what you like about alcohol/ drugs (“good” things), and what you don’t like about it (“less good” things).
  • Ask yourself:” In what situations do I drink or use the drug?”
  • Ask yourself:”What other choices do I have instead of using alcohol or other drugs?”

Planning

  • Try to avoid places and situations where you usually use alcohol or other drugs.
  • Find something else to do instead of using alcohol or other drugs.
  • Hang out with people who don’t drink or use other drugs.
  • Keep yourself busy, so you don’t get bored.
  • Learn to cope with your stress and emotions in healthy ways.  For example, if you’re sad, call up a friend, or if you’re angry, lift weights, hit a punching bag, go for a walk, listen to music, or do some deep breathing exercises.

Support

  • Tell people who care about you what you are trying to do, so they can support you.
  • Ask your friends to do other activities with you, for example go to the movies.
  • If your parents are concerned, let them know what’s happening and ask for their help.
  • If you go to school, talk to your teacher or guidance counselor.
  • Speak to your doctor, call a youth health clinic, or contact the local youth counselling agency, your local substance abuse counselling service, or call The Kids’ Help Phone (1 800 668 6868).

For more resources:
Kids help Phone
www.kidshelp.sympatico.ca
 

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How can I tell if I have been given a date rape drug?

Date rape drugs are drugs that are added to your drink without you knowing about it and make you act differently than you normally would or make you forget whole chunks of time.  It doesn’t matter if the drink is alcoholic or non-alcoholic.  These drugs make it easier for someone to sexually assault you.  

There are different rape drugs that can be used, like Rohypnol (Roofies, Rope, Forget-pill), Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid X, Easy Lay), and Ketamine (Special K, Vitamin K, Ket).  They can be in the form of tablets, capsules or clear odourless liquids so it is difficult to tell if a drug has been put in your drink.  

When you, unknowingly, have a drink that has been drugged, you may:

  • Feel sleepy and relaxed.
  • Feel overly drunk, outgoing or sensual.
  • Feel out of control.
  • Pass out and wake up in a different place hours later and have no memory of what happened.

Any of these symptoms can make it easier for someone to take advantage of you. Someone (a stranger, an acquaintance or even a boy/girl friend) may offer you a place to crash and then sexually assault you. Sexual assault is not just rape, but also fondling, oral sex or any other sexual activity that you would not want when sober and/or thinking clearly (keep in mind that date rape drugs influence how you feel and act).

What to do:
If a drink looks or smells different, don’t drink it. If you drink any of it and then start to feel weird or experience any of the symptoms above, talk to a friend about what is happening and get medical help immediately.  Some of these drugs, when mixed with alcohol, may lead to serious medical complications. Also, monitor the behaviour of friends who seem more drunk than they should be for the amount of alcohol they’ve been drinking. They may have been drugged. Then help them get medical attention.

You should also consider calling the police, especially if it turns out to be a drugged drink.

If you see a health professional early enough, they can do tests to see if there are any of these drugs in your body. But some of these drugs disappear quickly, within 8 to 12 hours and could be difficult to trace in your body.

How to protect yourself:
Don’t leave your drink alone. Take it with you.
Don’t take any drinks from someone you do not know well and trust unless you’ve seen then purchase it.
At a bar or club, accept drinks only from the bartender, waiter or waitress.
If a drink looks or smells different, don’t drink it.  

If you feel that you may have been sexually assaulted while drugged, there are trained people who can help you.  Even if you don’t remember much, you should consider seeing someone.  You can go to a hospital, a doctor or nurse, or Sexual Assault Centre.  It may help to talk to a friend or someone you trust. They can make it easier for you to get help. You should also consider calling the police. Remember to seek help early since the drug can disappear in a short period of time from your body.

Where can I get more information?

University of Calgary – Date Rape Drugs
http://www.ucalgary.ca/security/daterape
This page give some background info on the drugs used in date rape, what you can do to protect yourself, and where to go for help if you suspect you have been drugged.

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I’ve decided to quit smoking – now what?

So you’ve made the decision to quit smoking – great news! Lucky for you, there are lots of options, which is good because what works for one person may not work for you. You need to find something that works for you!

It’s often easier to quit if you follow a plan. GoSmokeFree has a step-by-step guide to help you quit.

A summary of the steps are:

  1. Think about why you want to quit
  2. Ask your doctor about nicotine replacements and other cessation products
  3. Choose a method that will best help you quit
  4. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Understanding why and when you smoke can help you avoid tempting situations (i.e. a smoke with coffee, a smoke after dinner, etc.)
  5. Set a quit date and tell your friends
  6. Face your concerns about quitting (ie. will I gain weight, can I handle the withdrawal, will it still be difficult to hang out with my friends who still smoke?)
  7. Be prepared to be grumpy, irritable, anxious and restless. These are all common withdrawal symptoms.
  8. Be aware of ‘trigger situations’; for example, if you hope to quit you must be prepared to be in difficult situations in which you’d normally be smoking or others around you will be smoking. You will need to think about how you would respond to this type of pressure.
  9. Mentally prepare yourself the day before you quit and remember not to buy any more smokes.
  10. It’s quitting day!

Want something a little more interactive? The Smoking Zine   www.smokingzine.org  can help you develop your own plan to quit. Take the ‘Why I smoke quiz’.  Using your answers from the quiz you’ll be given tips on how to deal with your temptations and withdrawal symptoms. Finish off with a ‘Quit Smoking Contract you’ll make with yourself.

Health Canada’s Quit4Life
http://www.quit4life.com/ has a few suggestions on how to cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Who can help?

Encouraging support is very important. You can get support from friends, family or a health professional such as a nurse, counselor, or doctor. You can find someone who has already quit and ask them what the experience was like and what worked for them.

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How can you support someone who is quitting?

  • Congratulate the person
  • Support and praise their decision to quit
  • Offer to do things together in a smoke-free environment
  • If that person begins to smoke again, encourage them to try and stop smoking again but don’t hassle them!

Useful resources to look up