Youth & Alcohol, Messages & Media Initiative

keepcontrol.ca website. gardecontrole.ca website.
a project on risky drinking and safety strategies for youth. Continue reading to find out how we got here …

Youth and Drinking
In Ontario, 41% of Grade 11 students reported binge-drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks on one occasion) "at least once in the month prior to" the Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (Adlaf et al., Ontario Student Drug Use Survey, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, 2003). Heavy drinking is associated with a constellation of other problems including driving injuries, unplanned or forced sexual activity, violence, and, as recent research points out, chronic diseases like cancer (Babor et al., Alcohol, No Ordinary Commodity, 2003).

Alcohol Messages
Alcohol promotion in Ontario is rampant. Unfortunately media messages addressing health and safety issues are rare. Currently, health messages to youth about the risks associated with alcohol relate mostly to impaired driving — and are delivered at the local level. While some regions of the province have identified messaging and campaigns which address other risks and safety strategies, there has been no coordinated provincial campaign.

Youth and Alcohol, Messages and Media (YAMM) Campaign
Health Canada funded a two-staged provincial campaign to reduce problematic alcohol use among Ontario's English and French-speaking youth, ages 15–18, by increasing knowledge of effective strategies to reduce risk and increase safety among youth, parents, and health professionals. This two-staged campaign ran from October 2004 to March 2007. The website keepcontrol.ca [PDF] was a brand new campaign for youth by youth on risky drinking.

  • Stage 1 (October 2004 – September 2005) of this campaign saw the:
    • Development of a network of youth, researchers, health promoters, educators, and social marketers with the goal of producing a major campaign to reduce dangerous drinking among youth ages 15–18.

    • Research and publication of "Best Practices" [PowerPoint Show, 2.3MB] on effective communication of alcohol and safety messages and identified strategies to reduce the problems.

    • Successful hosting of an energetic two-day conference in June, 2005 called "Risky Drinking: The Un-conference — Creating Youth to Youth Messages". This conference was attended by youth, communication researchers, health promoters and social marketers on how to move from research to practice.

    • Publication of a project report and DVD, which will be used to guide Stage 2 of the project.

  • Stage 2 (October 2005 – March 2007) of this campaign saw the:
    • Production of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) in English and French to increase awareness of dangerous drinking among youth and air them on radio and television.

    • Development, launch and maintenance of a bilingual website for youth, parents and health professionals which will provide information about dangerous drinking and provide practical strategies to reduce risk and increase safety.

    • Creation of public information resources for communities, in both languages, to support and promote the campaign and to assist parents and professionals in addressing dangerous drinking at the local level.

    • Engagement of a dynamic partnership of youth, substance abuse prevention specialists, researchers, marketers and broadcasters in planning, carrying out and disseminating the campaign.

    • Development of an evaluation component and summary report to measure the impact of the campaign.

Available Resources

In addition to those resources cited above, the presentations made at the June, 2005 conference are available to view online. Also, a Summary Report and Resource Kit of the Risky Drinking Un-Conference, including a professionally produced DVD is now available! Please visit the Parent Action on Drugs website for more details and ordering information.


If you have any questions, or would like more information, please feel free to contact us.

Production of the keepcontrol.ca website has been made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.