About Us

Where families come for help

The DFK Vision 

To ensure that all young people will be able to live their lives free of problematic substance use and addiction.

90% of people living with addictions began using substances in adolescence. 1

Drug Free Kids Canada is building a movement that encourages and supports parents to prevent and reduce the harms of problematic drug use by youth.

Introducing the Parent Support Hub

Concerned about your child’s use of substances? You’re not alone. Many other families have been through this – they have faced or are facing similar challenges. It’s important to get help when you need it.

The Parent Support Hub is a free online chat or phone service accessible 24/7.

Care representatives can address your concerns, guide you to helpful resources, and refer you to Mental Health Professionals who can provide immediate counselling support for you and your child – together or individually.

The Parent Support Hub is powered by LifeWorks, and is a 24/7 free service available for families across Canada. 

We educate, engage and empower parents, guardians, families and trusted adults.

Educate

We meet the needs of parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, and health care professionals across the country by providing them with the most up-to-date and evidence-based information on youth and substance use, along with resources, tools and support.

DFK’s comprehensive website is the hub of all of our educational activities; allowing parents easy access to information on substances, drug prevention tools, and DFKC resources along with the strategies they need to communicate effectively with their children about a growing list of current issues.

Engage

One of the guiding principles at DFK is “Talk with your Kids.”

Substance use is a familiar term to most parents, but many parents don’t feel their children could be at risk, or they don’t feel comfortable discussing drug use with their kids, so they don’t make it a part of their regular family safety conversations.

Since the pandemic, we are seeing problematic substance use converging with mental health challenges at a much greater scale.   Youth have always been vulnerable to these issues, but they are more so now.

  • Last year, only 1 in 4 youth reported excellent or very good mental health and close to half don’t anticipate a bright future.2  
  • 45% of young people reported moderate to severe anxiety symptoms while 24% reported moderately severe to severe depression.  
  • Young people ages 16 to 24 years living in Canada are more likely to report mental health and substance use concerns than any other age group in the general population.3

Parents are the most influential people in their children’s lives.

We at DFKC believe it’s important for parents to know that engaging with their kids and having meaningful conversations can have a positive impact and can make a difference to their overall mental wellness. Our tracking surveys confirm that kids say that one of the main reasons to stay away from drugs is to not disappoint their parents.

Public Awareness Campaigns

Our unique and impactful media campaigns are one of the ways we reach out and engage parents to have informed, meaningful conversations with the children in their lives about substance use. We work in partnership with advertising agencies and media outlets to create drug education messages that run on TV, radio, print, and digital media across Canada.

Keep Talking DFKC encourages parents to #keeptalking – even if it’s not always obvious, their kids are listening.

Recent DFKC Campaigns – Find the full list of our television, radio, and print ads along with downloadable campaign materials.

Empower

We believe in empowering parents in their efforts to help their kids develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they will need to achieve their goals, dreams, and aspirations free of problematic substance use.

The resources and practical tools we provide parents contain valuable information on substances as well as practical advice, empowering parents to begin those honest and meaningful conversations with kids to help them develop the knowledge, resilience, attitudes and skills to make their own healthy choices as they navigate through the teen years.

Empowering parents to take action to protect their kids is important because:

  • Average age of experimentation is: alcohol = 13.4 years old; cannabis = 14 years old  
  • 60% of illicit drug users are between 15 and 24 years old. 4
  • 36% of teenagers have been offered drugs at a party, and nearly half don’t really know how to refuse them. 5

The following substances were used by students in grades 7-12 across Canada: 6

  • Alcohol: 44% – 880,000 students
  • Cannabis: 18% – 374,000 students
  • E-cigarettes: 20% – 418,000 students *
  • 7% used sedatives/tranquilizers, stimulants, and prescription pain relievers
  • There was a 3% rise in non-medical use of stimulants like ADHD drugs
  • Opioids: 13% of Ontario high school students reported the non-medical use of prescription opioid painkillers.7

The DFK Difference: 1,400 fewer youth suffering from the harms of substance use and addiction each year. The Drug Free Kids’ Social Return on Investment (SROI) study in 2020 determined that the harms of youth addiction cost society $490,000 over the lifetime of an individual. DFKC’s prevention and harm reduction efforts save society over $680 million annually.

Source: DFK’s Social Return on Investment, Anna-Maria Bukowiec, DeGroote School of Business 

Footnotes

1 – National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse, CASA

2 – Mental Health and Substance use during Covid 19 – CCSA and Mental Health Commission of Canada

3 – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CAMH

4 – Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction – A Drug Prevention Strategy for Canada’s Youth.

5 – DFKC Tracking Study 2020

6 – Health Canada, CSTADS Survey Summary 2018-2019

7 – CAMH, OHSDUS 2021