Hello…my name is Nikki Humenchuk and I am your the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) Counsellor for your school.  I am at your school on Tuesdays and my office is located in the clinicians office space (in the formerly used cafeteria space).  I am also part of the Enhance Mental Health and Addictions Team that is available to help your school team with any students that need support in this area.

As an AFM counsellor, I meet with students who may be using substances or gambling and want or need to make changes with their use/behaviour.  I also meet with students who may be affected by someone else’s substance use/gambling (such as a family member or friend) and they may just need to talk about how that makes them feel.  I can also talk to or meet with parents who are in need of some support as they may be struggling with a child in their home who is using substances or gambling and they aren’t sure what to do.

I am also available to help you as staff if you are struggling to support students who are not ready to meet with an AFM counsellor, but you know are using substances/gambling and you aren’t sure how to help them.

If you are interested in any information around alcohol or drugs for classroom presentations or if you would like to have me come into your class and provide a classroom presentation in person or virtually, please let me know.  If it fits into my schedule, I am available to provide that service as well.

Action Tips for Parents & Caregivers – Talking about Alcohol, Cannabis and Other Drugs: 

Start having ongoing conversations about alcohol, cannabis and other drugs – before your kids reach the teenage years.  Conversations can start with basic topics like what they see on television – you can build up from there.

o   Don’t lecture, be calm, talk & actively listen.

o   Keep an open mind and try to understand what they are experiencing in life.

o   Be supportive and express concern – it is counterproductive to be shameful, angry or use scare tactics.

o   Set limits & rules

o   Let them know they can talk to you if they are worried about their own substance use or someone else’s use – it’s about safety

Talk about a wide range of topics, not just about substance use.  Invite them to offer their opinions, even if they are different than yours.  Find out what they think about cannabis use.

 ·       Check in with them, find out who they are hanging out with and get to know their friends

 ·       Spend time with them & keep them busy

 ·       Stay in the know – there are many myths about cannabis.  Have the information to help them make informed choices (www.drugfreekidscanada.org/).  Be aware of Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines & Lower Risk Cannabis Guidelines.  Inform yourself with the evidence.

 ·       Set goals & revisit – what do you want to gain from the conversation?  Not all conversations will go well, but it is important to learn from the experience and follow-up.

 ·       Set an example – be responsible with your own use.  Children are watching and learning from you.

 ·       Be aware experimentation and mistakes happen – teenage brains are still growing, including their impulse control.  Turn the mistake into a discussion and learning opportunity – be rational.

Seek help if needed:  The teenage age years can be a vulnerable period and may lead to mental health challenges such as anxiety, stress and depression.   They may cope with these emotions with substances.  If you think your teen is experiencing problems seek professional help.