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Prom

In this info sheet

Prom and the after-parties is an important milestone in your teen’s life, a time to celebrate. However, during this event, young people sometimes use psychoactive substances such as alcohol, cannabis and other drugs. Some teens may display behaviours that put their health and safety at risk.

As a parent, you can help your teen have an enjoyable evening while remaining safe.

To better understand

Prom and the after-party: they’ve been waiting for this for so long!

Whether your teen is finishing secondary school or accompanying someone who is graduating, prom marks the end of an era. At last, it’s time to celebrate all the hard work they’ve put into studying and getting their diploma. Prom day and evening often brings with it lots of emotions and experiences!

Teens may want to take advantage of the ball and the festivities to enjoy different experiences, including using alcohol and other drugs. At prom events, the use of psychoactive substances can be not only present, but even a status-symbol for young people. The excitement of these events, the desire to fit in and feeling reckless may influence your teen’s choice about using.

These events can entail risks. Alcohol and other drugs may affect a person’s ability to think and make informed choices, even if your teen is not in a state of advanced intoxication. This means that young people under the influence of psychoactive substances may be more prone to behaviours that put their own and other people’s health and safety at risk: having one too many drinks and binge drinking, driving under the influence, conflicts and aggression, non-consensual sexual activities, unprotected sexual activities, etc. Not to mention the regrets about some things they did or forgot about the evening!

There are ways to reduce the risks of the celebrations getting out of hand. As a parent, you can help your teen make these celebrations a fun time while remaining safe. See the next section for concrete tips.

To better support

Communicate

  • Talk about prom and the other festivities with your teen at the beginning of secondary 5 whenever the opportunity arises. Ask them how they imagine it.
  • Talk with your teen about psychoactive substance use and how it affects young people, without trivializing it or demonizing it. Present them with various possible scenarios to get them thinking. For example, ask them what they would do if someone they knew was drunk. Does your teen think they will drink? If so, how does your teen imagine this? You can remind them that they can have fun without using alcohol or other drugs. And in fact, this perspective is becoming more and more popular.
  • Talk about the significant risks associated with alcohol abuse and binge drinking: unknowingly being filmed in a video that is then posted on social media, forgetting the evening, doing things they regret, blackouts, having trouble breathing, throwing up, falling into a coma, and even ending up dead.
  • Begin a conversation about sexuality with your teen, emphasizing pleasure, consent and protection. For some young people, prom night is an occasion to get closer to someone they like. For more information, read our info sheet on this topic.

Use the acronym FRIES to remember what consent is. FRIES stands for: Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic, Specific. You must ask with each sexual activity and you can change your mind at any time. You must always make sure the other person feels like it too! When a person has been drinking or using drugs, their judgment may be affected and they may not be able to give their informed consent.

Support

  • A few days before the event, prepare a little “safety kit”: at least two emergency telephone numbers, condoms, a change of clothing, water, a snack. Suggest that your teen and their peers bring a bottle with a lid to keep their drink in. Explain to your teen the importance of always keeping it near them.
  • Make sure you’re available the day of the prom and the after-party. Remind your teen that they may call you to go pick them up at any time or place and that you won’t judge them.
  • Have a discussion with your teen about various ways to say no to drinking and using drugs, about the importance of respecting other people’s choice not to drink or do drugs. It’s possible to have fun without using psychoactive substances.
  • Encourage your teen to get help if they feel they need it.
  • If your teen plans on drinking or using other drugs, come up with strategies together to reduce the risks that this choice involves and stay within the boundaries of having a good time. For example:
    1. Before the festivities, help your teen set a limit for using psychoactive substances and find a way of keeping track of how much they’ve used when the day arrives (e.g. keep beer bottle caps to keep track of how many they’ve had).
    2. Knowing the signs of having reached their limit (feeling relaxed, numb, feeling like the room is spinning, not being able to talk properly).
    3. Drink slowly (avoid binge drinking and take breaks between drinks).
    4. Alternate drinking alcohol with drinking water and eating during alcohol breaks or plan on bringing mocktails (cocktails with no alcohol).
    5. Avoid taking different psychoactive substances in the same night (e.g. alcohol and cannabis or alcohol and energy drinks).
    6. Remind your teen to tell someone what they’re using so their peers can inform anyone providing assistance if that becomes necessary. Remind them about the importance of not staying alone if they have used alcohol or other drugs and of not leaving another person who has been using alone in an intoxicated state.

Supervision/Guidance

Talk with your teen about how prom and the after-party will go. Check the safety measures that will be put in place. For example:

  • Be aware of the sequence of events for prom night and the after-party.
  • Make sure you have the full address for where prom night and the after-party will be held.
  • Make sure that transportation and accommodations that have been organized are safe. Insist that your teen not get into a vehicle driven by someone who has been drinking. Offer to pick your teen up at the end of the evening. You can even offer to bring their friends home too!
  • Find out whether their will be safety coordinators on site at the prom and the after-party and whether adults will be present and identified to supervise and provide help.
  • Ask your teen to let you know if plans change or if the location changes.

At home

  • Be careful not to trivialize the use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Remember that alcohol, like other drugs, is a psychoactive substance and that drinking affects your faculties, your judgment and other cognitive abilities, emotions and behaviours.
  • Avoid excessive drinking.
  • If you choose to buy alcohol for your teen, encourage them to use strategies to reduce the risks related to drinking (see the six strategies suggested above in the Support section).

Resources and practical tools

For support

General resources

If you are dealing with a situation you are concerned about, don’t hesitate to talk to or consult a social services health care worker or professional:

Community organizations: family centre, youth centre, etc.

Some community organizations offer support programs for parents of teenagers. Call your local organization for information.

School staff members

Specialized resources

  • There are addiction prevention organizations throughout the Montérégie territory. You can contact them to get support. To find out which organizations offer services in your territory,  click here.
  • Drugs: help and referrals: 24/7 help line. For the Montreal and greater Montreal regions: 514-527-2626. Elsewhere in Québec: 1-800-265-2626.

To learn more

Making Prom a Night to Remember. Parents have a role to play! (Published by the Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux)

The dangers of “chugging” alcohol (Published by the Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux)

Drugs: help and referrals (website with a lot of information, including information on the Law of Effect)

Substance use (Tel-Jeunes Parents)

 

This Info Sheet has been written in collaboration with :

  • Frédérick Fortier, Director, Arc-en-Ciel addiction prevention organization
  • Satellite, addiction prevention organization

Latest updates: may 2024

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