Be You Promise Community Drug Education
& Prevention Scholarship

The Be You Scholarship Program was started to recognize high school students in the Greater Victoria and South Vancouver Island area for their commitment to academic achievement, community and school involvement, and inspiring others to be the best selves they can be without using drugs or alcohol. This was an annual scholarship in the amount of $1,000 per scholarship.

We want to congratulate the fourteen students who were awarded scholarships between 2015 and 2016!


“We hear in the media all the time about the dangers of the choices that we make when we drink and yet people see it as an icon for parting or having fun. Having seen the not so fun side of consuming alcohol, I practice abstinence and am determined to do so throughout my life.”

Safahanna-Malika Hanif Hussein
Parkland Secondary School

“I have strived to maintain good grades and to live a safe healthy lifestyle. The message from the Foundation will be shared throughout my life. The importance of being alcohol and drug free is critical to success in life! As I only want to succeed it is my top priority and I will continue to have the strength to say no.”

Tala Barzkar
Edward Milne Community School

“High school is a time for exploration and self-discovery. Many students experiment with their social lives in order to find where they belong. Unfortunately, many teens believe that alcohol is a necessary part of this exploration. As a young athlete, I recognize the importance of staying drug and alcohol free."

Miranda Llewellyn
Belmont Senior Secondary School

“For teenagers, the level of temptation is at an all-time high. Some are not always able to overcome the peer pressure being placed on them by friends, peers, and even media. I, however, have made a conscious effort to overcome adversity and remain drug and alcohol free, despite the constant push being made for me to succumb.”

Alexandra Werk
Lake Cowichan School

Avery Creed

Cowichan Secondary School

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What Impact Does Alcoholism and Addiction have on our Health System and Society?

Ever since the beginning of colonial North America, alcoholism and addiction have been much-discussed issues. In the United States the Women’s Christian Temperance Union even succeeded in getting alcohol banned nationwide in the 1920s. Nowadays most people have a much more relaxed attitude toward such things. Nothing wrong with a drink between friends or a social smoke, they say, so long as you’re responsible about it. This mindset is widely accepted, but there was once a time when it may have been unthinkable in many households, as it is with recreational drugs such as marijuana, which could soon move out of the ‘barely illegal’ category into common usage. If so, we risk compromising our health, desensitizing ourselves as a society and degrading our standard of living.

Four states in the US have legalized recreational marijuana: Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, and may others allow it for medicinal purposes. Some of the purported benefits of marijuana usage include successfully treating chronic pain, glaucoma, muscle spasms, and even cancer. The downsides of the drug are well-known; listlessness and loss of ambition, fixation with the dug and ultimately addiction, in addition to typical respiratory problems associated with smoke inhalation. The physical repercussions for teenagers are even more extensive, as the drug has a more lasting effect on an immature brain. Alcohol is similarly presented as being a useful tool for improving health when used in moderation, but as disorders such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome show, there is no doubt that it can wreak havoc on young brains. While derivatives of these drugs could prove beneficial to patients in need of relief for medical disorders, it is not up to the public to self medicate. Just like with prescription medicine, it should be used after consultation with a doctor, if at all.

Marijuana, much like tobacco and alcohol, is considered to be one of the more prevalent gateway drugs; a well-shored bridge to even more destructive substances and lifestyles. Typically people begin to experiment with these types of substances around adolescence. If marijuana were legalized, however, young people might be tempted to try it out at even earlier ages. Children who grow up in smoking or drinking households are more likely to try cigarettes and alcohol, and we may see the same effect with legalized marijuana. Early infatuation with these drugs can lead to higher dropout rates in schools, and consequently a lower standard of living.

Our society has come to view addictions to “minor drugs” such as tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana as simply facts of life. Because they are so prevalent we’ve all but given up trying to police them instead allowing them to fly under the radar. Certainly there are precautions in place; signs reading “it is illegal to sell alcohol/tobacco to individuals under the age of 19’ adorn the counters of shops across the province. Despite this, it is still relatively simple to acquire regardless of age restrictions. As youth experiment with controlled substances (and illegal ones like marijuana), even the brightest and most promising kids can get utterly entangled. We as a society are more likely to blame these kids for ruining their own lives than to try and help them get back on their feet. We would rather that they dropped out of sight, so that we can forget that they even exist or pretend that they were destined for such an ignoble fate all along.

At home in Canada it has been announced that marijuana could be legalized by 2017, something that has the country split between cheers of celebration and boos of contempt. If marijuana were to rise from the ranks of banned substances to the controlled ones, joining tobacco and alcohol, what would this mean for our society? Certainly some are looking forward to genuine medical relief, and further study into these benefits may yield helpful results, but there is concern that more addictive substances are the last things our already-apathetic population, and particularly our youth.

Britney Nottenburg

Spectrum Community School

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The influence addiction and alcoholism currently has on our society and health system is substantial. The dependence people have on these substances affects not only every aspect of their lives, but the nation they call home. We as Canadians are fortunate to have one of the most beneficial health systems in the world and addicts are putting unnecessary stress on it. The relationship between crime and addiction is irrefutable along with the strain platforms to reintegrate criminals back into society pose. The most considerable impact is the affect this sickness has on the families.

People suffering from addiction and alcoholism put a huge strain on the benefits our health care system presently provides. Hospitals around the world are filled with patients who have overdosed because repeated exploitation will creak havoc on your body and mind. Simply put, the more people using the benefits of our health care system, the more it costs taxpayers. Studies have shown that drunken patients are known come to the ER simply to regain sobriety and be provided with a meal free of charge. People committed for drug/alcohol related illness could be taking your spot and preventing you from getting to care you need, It is visits like these that cost millions of dollars each year. That money could be put towards research and care to help others in need.

Drug and alcohol misuse is linked directly to crime rate. A large majority of convicts admit to the use of drugs and or alcohol during the time they committed said offence. These substances alter brain function and can lead people to make rash decisions they wouldn’t have made without the negative influence the drugs or alcohol provided. Penitentiaries around the world are becoming increasingly over-populated due to drug and alcohol related offences. Your chances of becoming sober once you enter prison drop drastically because it is the polar opposite of the environment one needs to take such steps. More and more prisons are being built each year to keep up with the exponential growth of prisoners, costing the government countless dollars.

Rehabilitation and reintegration programs fro the homeless are very expensive. The homeless population is exposed to misuse of alcohol and drugs on a daily basis greatly increasing the likelihood of becoming an addict themselves. The deeper you fall into the destructive lifestyle the more difficulty you will face trying to dig yourself out. Regaining stability by finding yourself a reliable source of income along with a place to live becomes farther out of reach. A myriad of programs exist to assist people in this situation but unless privatized, they are funded by citizen’s money. Platforms like these are essential in integrating people back into our society but they are expensive and relay on government funding.

Alcoholism and addiction not only impacts the addict, but their family. Children that grow up in households filled with substance abuse are far more likely to go on to become addicts themselves. The instability they experience, as youth will follow them and make their transition into adulthood that much more challenging because they don’t have a family they can relay on. Prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol can be extremely harmful to a child’s development. A child will be far more likely to need special education assistance if they have been introduced to drugs and alcohol before full maturation. If the parents are no longer able to care for their children they will be put into the foster care system which costs the government around one billion dollars each year. More often than not the chain of addiction will continue down generation by generation, making it exponentially difficult to break the cycle the longer it has existed.

The impression alcoholism and addiction has left on our health system and society is not to be ignored. The current luxuries our health system provides are in jeopardy, substance related crime rates are quickly swelling, our government is spending more and more on recuperation programs, and families are being torn apart and permanently damaged. This is not a problem that can be deciphered overnight but it is one that is well worth working towards a solution for.

Camille Johns

Edward Milne Community School

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“What impact does alcoholism and addiction have on our health system and society?”

Alcoholism and addiction pose a substantial cost on our health care system and on society. The impact of substance abuse can only be understood if one looks at the many relationships that link our society together: The homeless man sitting on the corner of Pandora Street makes the young girl shopping downtown with her friends very uncomfortable; A grandmother, of twelve young grandchildren, has been diagnosed with colon cancer due to her addiction to cigarettes for sixty years, and the costs of her frequent doctor visits and prescribed medications through Canada’s health system are put on society’s shoulders; The young girl cries herself to sleep as she thinks of all of the memories that she shared with her Granny, who passed away from the result of a lifelong addiction. These correlations are only three out of millions that make up the spider web of our society.

The abuse of alcohol and drugs causes a significant burden on the economy of Canada, as it dramatically affects the healthcare system of our country. In 2006, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) released The Costs of Substance Abuse in Canada 2002. The study, conducted by CCSA, thoroughly investigated how the citizens of Canada were impacted by the abuse of substances. This study, evidently showed that health care was the most noteworthy cost connected with substance abuse. The costs of family doctor visits, drugs prescribed to treat substance abuse problems, acute care and psychiatric hospitalization, specialized inpatient and outpatient treatment, ambulatory care, and doctors’ fees all accumulate to a large dollar amount that is imposed on society. The Costs of Substance Abuse in Canada 2002, revealed to the public that in 2002, that alcohol abuse accounted for $3.3 billion in direct health care costs and illegal drugs abuse accounted for $1.1 billion.

Many people in my family are directly affected by alcoholism and addiction. I, unfortunately, have first handily seen many family members suffer from their continued abuse of substances. I have seen my Aunt face the financial consequence of substance abuse, as she raised her two children living in a low-income household surviving from one paycheck to the next. Furthermore, I have seen my two cousins suffer, as they grew up with a mother who had to fight to choose the cost of her children over the cost of alcohol and drugs and in a low-income neighbourhood that introduced them to substances at a young age. Substance abuse has also led to the deaths of many of my loved ones. My Granny, who loved fairies, knitting scarves, and her grandchildren, was addicted to smoking cigarettes; she had smoked cigarettes since she was nine years old. Many of my family member have fortunately turned their lives around over time and have learned to say “no,” although she did not. My Granny’s addiction was much more expensive than a pack of cigarettes a day for sixty years, for it cost her her life. After seeing the harmful effects of alcoholism and addiction, I promise, to myself, to live a healthy and happy life without the use of drugs or alcohol.

Since January 2016, I have been volunteering at Our Place, an inner-city community centre serving Greater Victoria’s most vulnerable. Every Sunday morning, I drive from Sooke to Pandora Street, located in downtown Victoria, to volunteer for two hours at Our Place. I volunteer in the nutrition bar serving coffee and oatmeal to individuals in need; this includes working poor, impoverished elderly, mentally and physically challenged, addicted and the homeless. Volunteering at Our Place has been an eye opening experience for myself to say the least, as it has played a large role in shaping my views of others and of the world. Before I began volunteering at Our Place, I felt frightened when I would walk the streets of Victoria’s downtown, because of the homeless people who roamed the streets beside me. However, while volunteering at Our Place, I had the invaluable experience to get to know many of the people who I once walked by as they sat on the pavement beside me, and I realized that I had something in common with each and every one of them: we were all humans. The important life lesson that I learned through my community service is that it is very easy to make a social judgement based on one’s appearance and lifestyle, although the truth is that preconceived judgements will not mend our society; for the smile or the kind words that you may share with someone could significantly brighten their day and yours as well.

Our society and our health care in Canada is directly impacted by drug and alcohol abuse. Being an individual, who has been affected by alcoholism and addiction, I hope that those who are currently in need seek help; For, substance abuse does not only affect the abuser’s state of mind, it affects the driver of the car that the drunk driver smashes into, it affects the society that is forced to pour a colossal amount of money into their country’s health care system, and it affects the family that grieves their loved one. Take hold of the reins of your life and make the right decision by making your Be You Promise today!


Dallas Brooks

Edward Milne Community School

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What Impact does alcoholism and addiction have on our health system and society?

By Dallas Brooks

I am an eighteen year old boy. At this point in my life, my routine is decided for me. The alarm goes off at 7:15. I have my schedule; I wake, shower, brush my teeth, grab a bite to eat, and go to school. This is the routine I have had for the past thirteen years. Life is simple. I follow a bell schedule at school. The block rotation tells me which classes I attend. The teachers tell me what assignments to complete and when the test will be. I work evenings and I do homework after that. The day is predictable and organized. It is simply a healthy lifestyle of a teenager. Rules have been established in my home, in sports, and at my school to ensure my success and my wellbeing. But things will soon change.

I am only five months from moving out of the house I grew up in. I am registered for Engineering and will be living on campus at the University of Victoria this coming September. Living in dorms, my time will be my own and no one will be ensuring that I get up when the alarm goes off. No administrator will be reminding me that the second bell is about to ring and that I don’t want to be late for math. No teacher will email my mom with my current mark status and grade for the course. Within the next year I will also turn 19. That magic number suddenly allows me the freedom to walk into a pub or liquor store and legally order a drink. The rules change significantly this year.

What does not change, is my personal belief about right and wrong. Just because I have a legal right to order a drink and consume alcohol does not mean that I have to. My generation may be a little different than that of my parents. They tell me stories about high school parties and the consequences of drinking alcohol with friends. Drinking and driving was common place among their friends when they were in school. The RCMP would pull teens over and, seeing evidence of alcohol, suggest that they head straight home. They didn’t tell their parents who they were with or what they had planned on a Friday night. But my generation is different.

I wouldn’t even think of not wearing a seatbelt when I get into a car, or drinking any amount of alcohol when I was prepared to drive. My friends always have a plan to safely arrive and I am lucky enough to be able to share the truth about my social plans with my parents. I am raised in a home where the dangers of drugs and alcohol are talked about. My parents discuss smart choices, decisions, and the consequences of actions. I signed a DARE (Drug Abuse Residence Education) contract in Grade 5 at John Muir and stood behind that decision. I know that drugs and alcohol are options, but not for me.

It might be because I have said no to offers in the past that my peers just don’t ask me to smoke or drink with them. I am known as an athlete; I play high level hockey and lacrosse, and see myself as a person who makes healthy choices. Choices I am proud of. I can go to parties, and socialize with my fellow grads. I can hang out with my older cousins without carrying a drink around the camp fire. No one criticizes me for making this choice and I get a sense that they are actually impressed by my confidence and ability to be drug and alcohol free at 18. I have grown up quickly over the past few years. I’ve seen the results of drinking and drug abuse and I really don’t like the outcome.

Being me is being clear in my head, healthy, athletic, witty, and intelligent. That is my personality and I don’t see the need to alter it. I don’t need a reputation for being crazy, risky, or wild. I like my style and I am happy. I want to be known for independently making the choice to say “No thanks” when the offer is put out there. My healthy choices make me stronger, more confident, and happier in life.

When I think about why I have made the decision to be my best self, it may be because my mom is a counsellor. She has worked with kids on probation; teens whose lives have changed because of the decision to drink and use drugs in excess. All my life I’ve heard her talk about car accidents, probation orders, police involvement, court orders, families who have broken down, and young people who have taken or lost their lives due to an addiction to alcohol and other drugs. These were dinner table conversations at my house. I learned that poor choices can have lasting effects. The money, time, and investment in drug and alcohol counselling is enormous. Poor choices can have serious consequences that impact everyone. The lasting effect of a bad choice, made one evening, could last a lifetime. British Columbia budgets more money to health care than education. Some choose alcohol and drugs as a simple cure for anxiety and low self esteem, but I see that as a cycle of hardship, addiction, and disappointment.

I was recommended by my counsellor to apply for the Be You Healthy Choices and Anti-Drug Scholarship. I am proud that people know me as an athlete and an academic. I see myself as a mentor to young athletes and proud of my decision to lead my life with a clean and clear head, to challenge myself in school, and to laugh and have fun without abusing drugs or alcohol. I look forward to the next few years at university and will continue to be real and true to myself.

Dana Wiltsie

Frances Kelsey Secondary School

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Jocelyn Benji

Cowichan Secondary School

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What impact does alcoholism and addiction have on our health system and society?

In high school life, alcohol and addictions has had great impacts on the youth in our health system and society. Many students drink alcohol throughout high school which can leave long term effects in their adult life. Alcohol is also an opening to drugs that are highly addictive. Decisions that you make in your youth can impact the rest of your life.

In high school, finding students who drink isn’t a very hard thing to do. Students drinking is a problem across all of Canada according to an article from Teen Challenge Canada, “79% of people in Alberta over the age 15 drink to some extent…83% of Ontario grade 12 students admit to binge drinking… 13 years was the average age of first exposure [to alcohol]”. Students who drink can also pressure people who don’t to join in. Drinking can affect their life and school life. From not having that time for studying to not going to work the next day. Alcohol is easily available to students even though in BC laws, “It’s against the law to purchase liquor for, or to give liquor to a minor”. Youth still get people to buy it for them or stores don’t pay enough attention about how old they are. In an investigation from the BC government, “one quarter of all private and public liquor outlets in the province turned up one sale to a minor at a government store, but 32 to minors at private stores”, showing that the laws in place are not being enforced effectively. When students drink its usually not just by themselves, its at parties they attend. These parties are gateways to more drinking and experimenting with drugs. When you combine drugs and alcohol, you wont’t know how it will affect you.

Consumption of alcohol detriments a students life according to Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, “driving after drinking or getting into a car with a driver who has been drinking…also related to increased chances of suicide, homicide, drowning and experiencing or committing physical or sexual assault because alcohol impairs judgment, reasoning and the ability to evaluate risk”. Students will take more dangerous risks then if they were sober, that could cause injuries to them or others around. Alcohol in a students lives effects them during their school life but drinking a lot in your youth will have consequence later in life. In your body alcohol has huge negatives, according to Teen Challenge Canada can cause; cirrhosis, increase chances of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, ulcers, pancreatitis, and increases risk of mouth,throat, larynx, and esophagus cancers. Alcohol consumption affects your brain in various ways, “brains are affected, already-felt reactions grow worse – or further impaired”, alcohol can affect your breathing, “alcohol slows or stops the functions in the brain stem often resulting in death without early intervention”. The repercussions of Alcohol use effects the person, their family, and their community. Alcohol can have life threatening results on the youth in Canada.

Youth who are at parties drinking, are also influenced by those who do drugs. Taking

drugs that you don’t know much or anything about has been proven to be deadly.

Drinking occasionally can lead to drinking heavily to trying gateway drugs such as

marijuana to trying more dangerous drugs to be addicted to these drugs and ruining your life. According to Statistics Canada, “60% of illicit drug [Marijuana, Ketamine, LSD, Cocaine, Bath Salts, Methamphetamine, GHB, Ecstasy and Alcohol] users in Canada are between 15 and 24”. The use of these drugs have many effects on youth, “Short term memory loss, Anxiety, Depression, Panic Attacks, Liver Damage,etc…”. The choices they make during their teens have life damaging results for the rest of their lives. In order to help students from making wrong choices, they need direction.

Education is key to solve alcohol and drugs issues facing youth. If students hear more about not only the facts and dangers, but real life stories about people who have had negative experiences, it’s more influential. Students need to be taught and shown what can happen under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Having presenters come and share their own personal stories has more meaning and impact. Along with education, the next step would be implementing stronger fines. All liquor stores should be check at least annually to make sure they aren’t selling alcohol to youth, and if they are, education or fines should be placed order to stop it from continuing. Students should be taught more about the consequences about alcohol and drugs. Also the dangers of drinking while driving and how your judgment changes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. More information students hear about this topic, more they will think about it ,and better future decisions they’ll make.

The influence of drugs and alcohol affects youth’s current life, future, schooling, jobs, and social life. They also change their family’s and community’s lives. Without educations and stricter fines in place, the problem is just going to get bigger. Change is a must for the safety of youth in Canada.

Works Cited

“Alcohol Abuse Facts.” – Teen Challenge Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. <>.

“B.C. Liquor Policy Review.” BC Liquor Policy Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

News, CBC. “Underage Teen Buys Liquor at 3 B.C. Stores – British Columbia – CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 22 May 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2016.

Robert Lee

Oak Bay Secondary School

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What impact does alcoholism and addiction have on our health system and society?

By Robert Lee

Contemporary media has portrayed alcohol and drug use with a façade that ostensibly conveys maturity and ‘coolness,’ while at the same time downplays the associated health risks. However, the reality is much direr. The abuse and misuse of these substances can have everlasting and far-reaching ramifications on not only the individual, but also other people, the health system, and society. Thus, practicing abstinence and moderation is paramount for the health and success of both citizens and society.

To many of its users, the consequences of alcohol and drug use may seem temporary. Any side effects may appear to affect only the user and disappear after some time. This belief is perpetuated in popular media, where actors and actresses are often seen drinking, smoking, or, in some cases, using drugs. They are able to wake up the following day seemingly unharmed and unimpaired by their actions. This depiction of the use of these substances is insidious, as it fails to truly convey the associated dangers.

Many people are unaware of the detrimental effects alcohol can have on their bodies. Regular alcohol consumption, according to The Globe and Mail “can take a serious toll on [a person’s] health: Cancer, heart disease, and depression are just a few of the ailments that medical research has linked to drinking.”[1] According to emerging studies, even moderate drinking can cause these symptoms to manifest. Similarly, drug use can also have negative effects on “mental and physical health, […] relationships, and […] life in general.”[2] This is problematic both to the individual and to the health system. For the individual, these ailments are often gradual and accumulative. One glass of alcohol or one cigarette will not, by itself, lead to cancer or other health problems. But the continual consumption of alcohol or usage of drugs will lead to diseases which bring discomfort, inconvenience, pain, and even hospitalization and medical care. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol affects the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system, and may lead to cancer.[3] Alcohol interferes with brain communication pathways, leading to structural changes and disruptions in regular brain activity. This can change mood and behaviour, cloud thoughts, and reduce coordination. The heart is affected as well: Irregularities in the heartbeat, an increased likelihood of stroke, and a higher blood pressure are all concomitant with alcohol consumption. Drug use can entail similar problems as well; for example, marijuana can lead to “cognitive impairment, […] respiratory issues, […] depression, and anxiety.”[4]

These higher rates of hospitalization and increased demand for medical attention burdens the health system with added costs. In a country where the growth in health care expenditures has eclipsed the growth of the economy, where “health spending is taking up an increasing proportion of public dollars,”[5] this is troublesome. In 2002, “alcohol accounted for 8 per cent of all deaths (under 70 years old) and 7 per cent of all hospital stays,” which “translates to a burden of $14.6 billion on health care and law enforcement services, when coupled with costs associated with a loss of productivity in the workforce.”[6] Tobacco accounted for $17 billion, and illicit drug use accounted for $8.2 billion.[7] These costs divert resources from other essential services funded by the government, such as education, environmental protection, social welfare services, support for the elderly, and more, which reduces the prosperity of society.

There is also another, often overlooked, tragedy of alcohol abuse. If alcohol is ingested during pregnancy, or during the nursing period, it can significantly impair the development of a child. It will damage and affect the brain, nervous system, and other critical organs, leading to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.[8] This can cause permanent physical and mental problems that the child will have to endure for the rest of his or her life. This not only impacts the child, who is the hardest hit, but also the family, as the child will require constant care. This also places a permanent burden on the health system, which will need to provide medical treatment and support for the rest of the child’s life.

One of the biggest risks associated with alcohol consumption is alcoholism, or addiction to alcohol. This is a progressive disease, and begins with a need to drink more. As it progresses, an increased tolerance to alcohol leads to increased consumption. This leads to job loss, medical complications, and serious family conflicts. In an attempt to forget feelings of anger, depression, and social discomfort, more alcohol is often consumed, worsening the situation. Alcoholism leads to severe addiction, with withdrawal symptoms appearing if he or she stops drinking.[9] The use of drugs can also quickly lead to addiction, because “the body can become tolerant to a drug relatively quickly,” which “eventually leads to a chemical dependency to the drug.”[10]

Alcohol and drug use impacts society as a whole, with criminal justice, health care, and other societal institutions being affected. It causes a decrease in work performance, which decreases productivity, and increases workplace tensions and unemployment. In addition, heavy drinking or drug use and unemployment are a vicious cycle, with one promoting the other. Alcohol and drug use causes “lower wages and lost employment opportunities, increased medical and legal expenses, and decreased eligibility for loans.”[11] It also affects family relations, degrading the proper functioning of the household. Home accidents and violence provoked by intoxication may cause lasting effects and ruin relationships and children. It also brings mental health problems for family, including anxiety, fear, and depression. The cost of alcohol and drugs are high, which causes household finances to be siphoned away to fund their purchase. Drinking and driving ruins lives, leading to increased hospitalization rates. Victims are not only handicapped, which stresses the health care system, but also can no longer contribute to their previous extent.

The ultimate result of the misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs, which can lead to alcoholism and addiction, is an instability in society. When an individual is intoxicated, they are unable to form the mental processes that control their emotions and desires. This leads to increased crime, increased health complications, and increased family problems. By curtailing the use of alcohol and practicing abstinence and moderation, the individual, their immediate environment, and society as a whole will benefit.

Works Cited

[1] Van Paassen, Kevin. “We Need to Talk (about Our Drinking).” The Globe and Mail. 29 June 2014. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[2] “How Drug Use Can Impact Your Life.” Australian Government – National Drugs Campaign. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.
[3] “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[4] “The Effects of Marijuana Use.” Drug Abuse. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[5] Born, Karen, and Andreas Laupacis. “What Is Driving Health Care Costs?” Healthy Debate. 24 Nov. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[6] Consiglio, Alex. “Alcohol One of Canada’s Top Health Threats: Study | Toronto Star.” The Star. 6 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[7] “Costs of Substance Abuse.” Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[8] “Alcohol Effects on a Fetus – Topic Overview.” WebMD. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[9] Mascott, Cynthia. “An Introduction to Alcoholism.” Psych Central. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[10] “Drug Abuse Effects.” Drug Abuse. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

[11] “What Social and Economic Problems Are Linked to Alcohol Use?” Green Facts. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.

Shimming Huang

Island Oak High School

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Sidney Fothergill

Lake Cowichan School

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What Impact Does Alcoholism and Addiction Have On Our Health System and Society?

“Every habit he’s ever had is still there in his body, lying dormant like flowers in the desert, just waiting for the right conditions”(Margaret Atwood). You can wake up one morning and decide to kick your habits, but that doesn’t mean they will just disappear because you asked them to. It takes time, patience, and a lot of forgiveness from yourself to be able to control your demons. It is important to get professional help because an addiction is something you carry with you for life, but you can learn how to control your urges and overcome your problems with the right treatment. For the purpose of this paper, I am going focus on the impact that alcoholism and addiction have on our health care system and society.

Addictions not only impact the individuals affected, but have a cost to their family, their employers, society and the health care system. Mental health and addiction go hand in hand. According to the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, one in five Canadians has mental health or addiction problems. People with a mental health disorder are twenty percent more likely to develop a substance abuse problem than the general population and problems arise that create unstable living conditions for these people. A person with alcoholism or addiction would sometimes rather spend their money on their choice of poison than on things that are necessities, like food, paying bills and hygiene products. This can be dangerous as they can starve themselves and their families, lose their jobs, become homeless or be hospitalized from dehydration, lack of nutrition, or even overdosing or alcohol poisoning.

Being hospitalized from any of these things cost the average Canadian $1,267 in taxes a year or $39.8 billion from every tax payer per year ( Illegal substances account for only 20% of this cost while legal substances like alcohol account for 36.6% of these costs. This money is important to the health care system so that patients can be treated properly. It is crucial that people be treated for their addictions because, if they are, there will be less chance of them having a relapse and go back to a life of addiction and alcoholism.

By being an addict or alcoholic, you are seriously damaging your family relationships for generations to come. I know personally how much this can affect your family. When you distance yourself from your loved ones, it really determines how your children and even your grandchildren are going to be raised. It determines what kind of relationships your children will have with their children. Fortunately, I have a great relationship with my dad because of the kind of relationship he had with his dad who was an alcoholic. My dad decided not to live that kind of lifestyle for his children because he wanted us to grow up having both him and our mom very present and involved in our lives. Even though his dad is completely sober now, my family does not see him very often because he became accustomed to being on his own.

In Canada, drinking is a very social event; going out and having a few drinks responsibly with friends is acceptable. Teens and young adults today want to try new things, especially in high school where it is a time of self exploration and, many times, people are pressured by their peers in to trying drugs and alcohol. I’m sure many people have been in a situation where their peers have wanted them to try something they didn’t want to try, saying things like “you won’t get addicted the first time,” or “what are you so afraid of?” Don’t let people pressure you into doing things that you don’t want to do.

It is important that you stick to your morals and your beliefs because you are the only person in charge of your actions. I know people recommend living your life without regrets but, in becoming an alcoholic or an addict, you could be throwing away your life and, with it, your potential to become something great or do something great in this world. Leave your mark on the world and don’t let your time on this earth be something you regret.

James Huang

Mount Douglas Secondary School

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