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Alcohol and the law

Remember that:

  • You’re not allowed to buy alcohol if you’re under 18.
  • Alcohol is generally prohibited in places where young people hang out.
  • Drunk driving is severely punished by law.

Making choices

Choosing to drink: why?

There are several reasons why you might drink alcohol: you like the taste, to socialize, to celebrate, to act like other people who all have a glass in their hand, etc. It might also be a kind of escape. Some people use alcohol to flee from a reality they’d rather not face or to push back certain feelings. These people are more at risk of becoming addicted.

Choosing to be teetotaler

You might choose not to drink a drop of alcohol because you know it has risks, you don’t like the taste, you’ve already had a bad experience with it, or you don’t like the person you turn into when you drink. It might also be for religious or legal reasons or out of principle. If you have friends who don’t drink, it might be easier for you to respect your values and choices.

Choosing moderation...

...because you know about the effects of alcohol

Drinking moderately means acting responsibly. It also means taking the necessary measures to avoid putting your safety and that of others in danger. It means being aware that several factors can affect your body’s absorption of alcohol, depending on the situation you’re in.

Alcohol abuse

When does drinking too much become a problem?

Some people abuse alcohol occasionally because they want the associated effect (getting drunk). However, other people develop a problem related to alcohol because of how frequently they drink. For example, if you can’t wait for it to be 5 p.m. so you can have your first beer (and it won’t be the only one you have that evening) or you make sure there’s always beer in the fridge because you’re scared of running out, you could have a problem.

Some ideas to help you

A picture of your drinking habits

How often do you drink? Who do you drink with? On what occasions? How many drinks do you have? How much money do you spend on alcohol each week? It might be interesting to take the time to paint a picture of your drinking habits so you can better understand your relationship with alcohol. Do you drink responsibly or are you at risk of getting hooked?

The reasons why you drink

What leads you to drink? What does alcohol give you? What feelings are you looking for when you drink? Is it hard for you to manage your emotions or have fun without alcohol? If you realize that you need to have a drink to be able to express your emotions, you should consider talking to a health care professional or a counsellor from Tel-jeunes.

Set goals for yourself

Do you want to quit drinking completely? Cold turkey or gradually? What are your goals? Are they realistic? What factors might help you reach them? What would stopping drinking give you? What would be the benefits for you? Having a good friend you’re accountable to could help you reach your goals.

Tools to succeed

Do you need to keep away from certain people for a while because they’re a bad influence? Are there healthy activities you’d like to do to keep busy? How did you manage your emotions before you started drinking regularly? Have you thought about how you’ll explain your decision and your choices to the people you know? Have you looked for support so you’ll feel less alone, and be encouraged, accompanied, and better equipped?

Resources to help you

Support people in various organizations can help you if you think you’ve hit rock bottom or you feel you’re being controlled by alcohol or drugs. You can find out about services in your region by getting information from Drugs: Help and Referral (1 800 265-2626, available 24/7). You can also write or call Tel-jeunes at any time.

Frequently asked questions

Addicted? Me?
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Drinking alone, always wanting to take part in activities that involve alcohol or hanging out with people who drink... Some signs don’t lie and they can indicate that you’re at risk of developing a problem:

  • There’s alcohol around at most of your activities and you seek out activities where it will be available.
  • You choose friends who drink too.
  • Your interests are changing: you’re neglecting the sports and other activities you used to like.
  • You sometimes drink alone.
  • Any occasion is the right time for celebrating with a drink.
  • Your parents, friends, or teachers are worried about you.
Is there a risk I could get hooked?
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You’re not very likely to develop a drinking problem if you have good self-esteem, know your strengths and weaknesses, have friends you get on well with, have good relationships with your family, pursue your passions, etc. However, you need to be cautious if the people you know often drink, you feel lonely, you’re having problems at school or at home, you’re experiencing violence or a lot of stress, or you have difficulties setting goals and finding interests.

What is a reasonable age to start drinking?
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In theory, the later, the better. It’s a good thing to delay drinking as long as possible. During adolescence, your body and brain are changing a lot. Your actions could have consequences for your development. If you do drink, do it in moderation and for the right reasons, and not because you want to forget family, school, or love problems. And be careful not to slide into excessive drinking.

What are the risks of drinking alcohol?
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If you drink a lot of alcohol in adolescence, you risk upsetting the hormonal balance you need so that your organs, muscles, bones, and reproductive system develop properly. In addition, the hormonal changes you’re going through increase your taste for risk taking, but your brain is still developing. This contradiction can lead to overconsumption of alcohol.

What if my parents don’t want me to drink?
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You might be frustrated and feel like your parents are controlling you, especially at a time when you’re craving more freedom. First of all, ask yourself why you want to drink alcohol. Why is it so important to you? And remember that you’re responsible for your own actions, even under the influence. But it’s often your parents who’ll have to pay for the consequences, which may explain their anxiety. Talk about it with them. Why won’t they let you drink? What can you do to reassure them and help them trust you? A calm, open discussion is necessary if you want to understand their decision.