Parental Information - Substance Abuse


Parents Play the Primary Role in the Prevention of All Substance Abuse

Below are effective prevention strategies parents use to keep teens safe, healthy, and drug and alcohol-free. Remember, it’s not pestering, it’s parenting! Take time to be the parent your kids need you to be.

  1. Be sure your kids know where you stand regarding the use of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Be very clear about your expectations for them, the rules for your household, and your concerns about alcohol and drugs. Teach them how to say no if it is offered to them.
  2. Discuss the health, safety, emotional, and legal consequences of underage drinking, marijuana, and other illicit drug use.
  3. Work to be a good listener. Often kids want someone to just listen to them; not necessarily someone trying to always solve their problems.
  4. Always know where your child is when away from home. Have them check-in with you regularly. The use of cell phones makes it much easier to stay in contact with your teen. Know the phone numbers of homes where your teen will be visiting.
  5. Know the other kids with whom your teen will be spending time away from home, or is talking to or texting on the phone and through internet messaging. Encourage your child to invite them to your home so you can get to know them. Provide a safe, alcohol and drug-free environment for your kids and their friends to socialize.
  6. Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends. Nearly all parents have the same concerns as you and will appreciate your call to get to know them and to introduce yourself. When you are picking up your teen at a friend’s home, get out of the car and talk to the parents. Keep a list of their names and phone numbers.
  7. Occasionally check to see that your kids are where they had said they were going.
  8. If you cannot be with your kids right after school, encourage their involvement in sports, clubs, other structured after school activities, or a job. Most problems happen when kids are unsupervised right after school. If they will be home alone be sure they know to finish homework and chores and that it is not okay to hang out with friends unsupervised.
  9. When your teens get home, give them a hug and talk with them. First, they will be reminded just how much you care, and second, you will know whether or not they have been using alcohol, marijuana, or some other substance.
  10. Be consistent with appropriate consequences when your teen breaks the rules.
  11. Let your kids know how much you appreciate the good things they do and their desire to be alcohol and drug-free.
  12. The more often kids have dinner with their families; the less likely they are to use marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs.

Are you hesitant to talk about alcohol and drugs because you’re afraid of being called a “hypocrite” by your kids?

You may have concerns about talking to your kids about drugs and alcohol because of your use as a minor. Despite your use in the past, your kids need to know your stance on their use today. Here’s an example of how to share your concerns with your kids:

“I made mistakes and I want to save you from making the same serious mistakes I made. I didn’t know as much as we do now about all the bad things that can happen when you drink alcohol, smoke marijuana or use other drugs. If I had known then about the consequences, I never would have tried it and I will do everything I can to help you keep away from it.”

Text Your Kids to Remind Them about Staying Away from Drugs and Alcohol!

Help or continue the conversation with your kids about your concerns for them and alcohol and drug use! Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Be safe. If someone offers you something, just say you promised me no.
  • Have fun. Remember your curfew. Call me if you need anything.
  • Wanted to remind you no drinking.
  • Remember, if someone has pot get out of there.
  • Keep making good choices tonight.

If Your Teen is Hosting a Party

  • Although you are the adult responsible, allow your teen to plan their party as much as possible, including plans for clean-up.
  • Discuss before the party how to keep out guests who appear as if they have been drinking.
  • Put all alcohol in the house in a location not accessible to those attending the party.
  • Set aside a specific area of the house for the party and decide about outdoor issues.
  • Limit party attendance and set an ending time.

Facts for Parents about Underage Drinking

  • The majority of teens report it would be “easy” or “fairly easy” to get alcohol if they wanted.
  • Kids die from alcohol 6.5 times more than from all other illicit drugs combined.
  • Because the brain is developing until a person is in their early 20’s, teen alcohol use can alter the structure and function of the developing brain.
  • Kids who begin drinking before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol addiction than those who start after age 21.
  • Kids who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other drugs than those who do not drink.
  • Kids who do not use alcohol say their parents’ disapproval of drinking is the main reason they choose not to drink.

Facts for Parents about Marijuana

  • Marijuana use impairs the brain’s effectiveness, ability to concentrate, coordination and ability to retain information by changing the way sensory information reaches and is processed by the brain.
  • Kids ages 12 to 17 that use marijuana are three times more likely than nonusers to have suicidal thoughts.
  • Young people who use marijuana are more likely to use other illegal drugs
  • 40% of regular marijuana users become addicted.
  • Students who smoke marijuana are more likely to get lower grades and more likely to drop out of school than non-smoking students.
  • Marijuana use affects judgment and decision making which can lead to risky behaviors and negative consequences.
  • Marijuana can be laced with other drugs and chemicals without the user knowing.
  • Today’s marijuana is much more potent than that used just 10 years ago and can have a much stronger effect on the user.
  • Persistent, heavy use of marijuana by adolescents reduces IQ by as much as eight points well into adulthood

Facts for Parents about Prescription Drug Abuse

  • Next to marijuana, the most common illegal drugs used by teens are prescription medications.
  • Pain relievers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, are the most commonly abused prescription drugs by teens.
  • One in 10 teens report having abused over the counter cough medicines to get high.
  • 57% of teens who use prescription medication to get high say they get their drugs from a relative or friend.
  • Teens are abusing prescription and over the counter medicines because they believe the myth that these drugs provide a medically safe high.
  • 1/3 of teens believe there’s nothing wrong with using prescription drugs once in a while without a prescription.
  • Adolescents are more likely than young adults to become dependent on prescription medication.
  • Addiction to prescription drugs too often leads heroin use and addiction as prescription drugs become harder to access. Heroin addiction is referred to by many professionals as a current epidemic.

If You Have Prescription or Other drugs in the Home

  1. Keep track of the number of pills you have in a bottle or packet.
  2. If you have over the counter cough, allergy, or cold medicines, be sure to know how much and how many bottles you have.
  3. Keep medicines in the same, observable location as much as possible, rather than leaving them where anyone can see or have access to them and out of the reach of young children.
  4. Get rid of old or unused medications in a safe and environmentally friendly way through a permanent prescription drop box or during a national prescription take back day. Contact you local police department to find a drop box or learn the date of the next take back event. Be sure to remove personal ID labels from bottles.
  5. Be observant. If you find empty bottles or pill packages, talk with your teen, listen and determine if there’s a problem.

Facts for Parents about Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic or designer drugs are typically made by amateur chemists in a makeshift lab. They may be synthetic narcotics, canabanoids, hallucinogens, amphetamines or some other drug. These dangerous drugs have been called “bath salts”, “spice”, “plant food”, “incense” and other names to avoid past drug laws.

  • Synthetic drugs can be several hundred times more potent than the drugs they are designed to imitate.
  • The drugs may come in a powder or solid tablet form. Some may be heated and reduced to a liquid that is injected.
  • Users never know for sure what drug they are getting or how potent the dose may be.
  • Although legislation has been in place to stop the sales of these drugs, some sales still exist and purchases can be made on the internet.
  • Physiological effects of synthetic drugs may include sweating, chills, muscle spasms, insomnia, heart and/or respiratory irregularities.
  • Other effects include euphoria, anxiety, paranoia, auditory and visual hallucinations, psychotic episodes, and insomnia.
  • Law enforcement, emergency responders, and hospital emergency rooms have been overrun with the consequences of unintended synthetic drug overdoses.
  • Long term effects of these drugs are unknown but some evidence indicates the possibility of extended negative reactions to use.

Links to More Information for Parents