Healthy Schools

Substance Use & Addictions

We promote and implement evidence-based substance misuse prevention strategies that are comprehensive, long-range and integrated into the school environment.

Resources for mental health promotion

See ideas and resources below for substance use, addictions and related behaviours:

  • Have Hamilton Police Services provide a presentation on a range of substances to students in Junior Kindergarten to grade 12. Call 905-546-4900 to book
  • Book a Life up in Smoke presentation for your grade 6 students with Hamilton Police Services and public health nurses. This presentation talks about various substances. Contact your school’s public health nurse or email [email protected] to book a presentation
  • Book a classroom presentation through Weed out the Risk to discuss road safety risks associated with driving while under the influence of marijuana
  • The a to z: Substance Use module can be navigated individually or in groups by students aged 14-16, or facilitated in the classroom. Includes facilitator guide and activity ideas
  • Use interactive tools created in collaboration with youth from mindyourmind such as Getting High? A tool that guides students through questions to consider when choosing whether to take a substance and Be Safe, a tool that allows the user to create a digital safety plan.
  • Use low–risk cannabis guidelines from CAMH to enhance understanding of how to reduce health risks associated with cannabis use
  • Use the CPHA pot and driving toolkit with discussion guide and questions for teenagers
  • Use low-risk drinking guidelines from CCSA to enhance understanding of how to reduce health risks associated with alcohol use
  • Access lesson plans from:
    • iMinds to support drug literacy for grades 4 to 12
    • SACY Fentanyl-related resources and support for the classroom grades 6-11 
    • Project Alert to support grades 7 - 8, including online training for teachers, posters and videos.
    • RCMP Illegal Drugs to support grades 7-8 substance misuse curriculum.
  • Explore resources for teachers and parents from the Ministry of Education


Alcohol specific resources:
  • Access lesson plans from Media Smarts to support grades 4 - 11 alcohol misuse curriculum
  • Use low-risk drinking guidelines from CCSA to enhance understanding of how to reduce health risks associated with alcohol use

Cannabis specific resources:

  • Help students perform a needs assessment of their school to identify priority areas within the school.
  • Review and update school policies about substance misuse. Advocate for including these policies in the school agenda and on the school website.
  • Read Building on our Strengths:Canadian Standards for School-based Youth Substance Abuse Prevention about implementing substance misuse initiatives
  • Coordinate discussion groups consisting of students of diverse perspectives (related to age, gender, interests, etc.) to identify emerging trends and/or key issues related to substance use/misuse and identify the supports needed in the school
  • Engage and encourage student groups to promote substance misuse prevention and school health.
  • Encourage students ages 14 to 25 to join the Hamilton Youth Advisory Council, that enables students to start a program or project in the community based on their interests, such as substance misuse
  • Encourage the use of RNAO’s- Youth Mental Health & Addiction Champion Toolkit developed to support the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based, youth-led mental health promotion and substance misuse prevention initiatives in schools
  • Suggest students initiate am OSAID Chapter in their school to raise awareness of impaired driving
  • Get Ready (by Parent Action on Drugs) is a free peer leadership program for Grade 7 or 8 peer leaders to deliver to their Grade 5 peers. This evidence based program builds skills in both peer leaders and students participating, and also provides education about substance misuse.
  • Create a Social Norms Campaign with students in grades 7 and 8. Use interactive activities to share the OSDUHS results or school data to influence substance misuse culture and norms.
  • Use videos from the How Do You Like Your Selfie Now? social media campaign to engage students in discussion of the harmful effects of alcohol and binge drinking. Consider playing the videos during televised announcements/assembly along with OSDUHS data, and encourage self-reflection and peer-to-peer discussion. Consider a contest to engage students
  • Establish a resource centre in the school to access information on substances and available community supports for students, parents, staff and community.
  • Monitor school property and places youth may use or share substances.
  • Encourage Health Action Teams or Positive School Climate Teams to create positive spaces for socializing, in collaboration with school administrators.
  • Host a Parent’s Guide to Prevention- Kids and Drugs workshop delivered by police officers to parents with children age eight to 15.
  • Reach out to Parents Against Drugs for school programs, information and local resources
  • Promote the importance of calling 911 for an overdose and about how the Good Samaritan Act can protect them. You are protected under the law if you report a drug overdose and are high or in simple possession of drugs.
  • Alternatives for Youth offers substance use counselling for youth age 12 - 23 and their families. Call 905-527-4469.
  • City of Hamilton Child and Adolescent Services offers family therapy, individual counselling, play therapy and psychotherapy. Make a referral through Contact Hamilton.
  • John Howard Society of Hamilton offers substance misuse prevention programs for youth age 12-17. Call 905-522-4446.
  • SNAP (also known as Stop Now and Plan), is a program for children under 12 years of age and their parents to help regulate feelings and prevent impulsive reactions. The program uses cognitive-behavioral principles and offers family counselling, parent education and supports groups.
  • See a tip sheet with strategies for parents to prevent underage drinking
  • Talk to Your Child Early. An infographic with detailed information, activities and resources to support parents of children aged 10-14 in implementing the six parent strategies.
  • Parent Action on Drug resources about substance misuse for parents.
  • School Mental-Health Assist opioid information for parents, youth and educators.
  • Health Canada information about opioids with links to talking with your teen about drugs, opioid information, naloxone information and an opioids toolkit with infographics and other resources.
  • Ask your public health nurse about substance misuse prevention or email [email protected].


Cannabis specific resources:

Certains renseignements et certaines ressources du Service de santé publique présentés sur cette page Web pourraient être disponibles en français. Communiquez avec l’infirmière affectée à votre école ou envoyez au courriel à [email protected] pour en savoir plus long sur les ressources et les services offerts en français.