Substance Use, Addictions & Related Behaviours

Teachers play an important role in educating students about substance use, addictions and related behaviours. Prevention messages are most effective when shared with students early in life.

The following resources can be used by teachers in the classroom or to support school initiatives. For questions, contact our School Health Curriculum Resource Line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 4111 or email schoolhealth@wdgpublichealth.ca.

Community programs and Services

Here 24/7

Intake line to addictions, mental health and crisis services in Waterloo Wellington. Services are available for children, youth and adults. Call 1-844-HERE-247 or visit here247.ca.

Kids Help Phone

Telephone and online confidential counselling and referrals for children and youth. Call 1-800-668-6868 or visit kidshelpphone.ca.

Their website includes a Tools and Resources section with tips and videos to start a conversation with children and youth about emotional challenges.

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)

MADD provides educational programs to prevent drug and alcohol-related automobile crashes, for Grade 8.

PAD (Parent Action on Drugs)

Provides a variety of peer-led substance use prevention programs.

Weed Out the Risk

An educational program to address road safety risks of driving under the influence of marijuana for youth drivers.

Recommended websites

Cannabis (Resources for Grades 6-12)

  • Cannabis Information for Educators (PDF): EDU update for educators on the impacts of cannabis legalization for schools and curriculum connections, and suggested parent resources.
  • Talking About WeedA local evidence-based campaign to raise awareness about the health effects of cannabis use among youth and adults. It features videos, links to local resources and supports, and information on ways to reduce health risks associated with cannabis use. For grades 9-12.
  • Talking Pot with Youth (PDF): A communication guide to help adults understand the youth perspective and practical ways to have a supportive conversation about cannabis with youth. For grades 9-12.
  • Ophea’s list of cannabis resourcesOphea has compiled a list of evidence-based resources on cannabis for educators, including connections to the H&PE curriculum. For grades 6-12.

E-cigarettes (Resources for Grades 7-12)

  • E-cigarettes: To Vape or not to Vape?The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU), in partnership with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, developed a short video for Grades 7-12 to help answer the following questions about e-cigarettes: Should non-smokers vape? Is vaping less harmful than smoking? Can smokers quit by using e-cigarettes?
  • Know the Risks: E-cigarettes & Young People: This website, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides the current facts about e-cigarette use and impacts among youth and young adults. 
  • Teardown [video]What is really in an e-cigarette? This video was developed by Rescue: The Behavior Change Agency as part of a campaign for teens in West Virginia.
  • The DeNoble Files: e-cigarettes [video]: Uncover the real story about the science of addiction from a former tobacco scientist, Dr. Victor DeNoble, as he breaks down what happens to your body when you use an e-cigarette.

Tobacco (Resources for Grades K-12)

  • Ideas for Action: Creating Smoke-Free CommunitiesA collection of tobacco prevention activities developed by Ophea and the Youth Advocacy Training Institute (YATI) using a healthy schools approach. The guide includes activities for Grades 3-12.
  • Media Smarts – Tobacco MarketingChoose from 11 lesson plans about tobacco marketing in both traditional and digital media. Can be used for Grades 4-10.
  • Smoking and Quitting: Clean Air for AllThis book tells the story of Daniel and his neighbour Trev’s desire to live in a smoke-free home and apartment building. It was developed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for Grades 3-6. It can be accessed online or ordered for free from CAMH.
  • Smoking Isn’t Cool Toolkit: Sample lesson plans, tools and materials to help teach smoking prevention for Grades K-5.

Information on Prescription Opioids (PDF, 4 pages, 630 KB)

Information sheet for educators on prescription opioids (including fentanyl), developed by School Mental Health-Assist and The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Resources and lesson plans for Grades K-12 on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, as well as emotions and behavioural health.

Project ALERT

A free, classroom-based substance abuse prevention curriculum for Grades 7 and 8 that is proven to reduce the experimental and continual use of drugs among students. Includes online teacher training, lesson plans, posters, videos, and newsletters.

Talking with teenagers about drugs

This Government of Canada webpage includes tips for talking with teens about drugs, information about cannabis, prescription drugs and other substances, and links to additional resources.

Public library resources

The following resources are available for loan from your local library. These DVDs can be used with lesson plans or for school events. To book a resource, please visit the online catalogue of one of our participating public libraries: (Note: library membership required).

Dr. Crazy (DVD)

This 17 minute DVD features Dr. Crazy, a mad scientist who tries to trick children into buying tobacco products. It can be used for Grades 4-6 and includes a teacher’s resource guide.

iDrive: road stories (DVD)

This 23-minute DVD raises awareness about the risks and consequences of unsafe, aggressive and impaired driving. Grade 8 and up.