Substance Abuse

In this age of technology everyone and everything is moving so fast it is hard for parents to keep up with the latest drug trends. One day you hear about Spice and the next day it is Bath Salts. And don’t forget the drugs that have been around for years like marijuana and inhalants. Our website offers information on the drugs most commonly abused by kids and teens today. We also have some simple tips to keep your child drug and alcohol free. For more information, chek out our Handy Helpful Handbook: A Parent’s Guide to Drug Prevention


  • Monitor your kids/teens activities. One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to know what they are doing, with whom and where they are spending time. This includes online and cell phone activity.
  • Don’t leave kids and teens unattended. Afterschool programs for kids and teens are needed to keep them safe and out of trouble. The hours between 3 and 6 PM are the prime hours for teens to commit crimes, become crime victims, smoke, drink, use drugs, or get pregnant1.
  • Use Hollywood as a teaching tool. The news is constantly reporting news of celebrities who have been affected or died of drug abuse. Use these reports as a way to show how the party lifestyle catches up with everyone eventually. This is a great ice breaker to talk to your kids about drugs.
  • Build a healthy body attitude. Establish the importance of a healthy body and self-esteem by encouraging eating well and exercise. A teen that is health conscience may not be as influenced to use drugs. Try evening walks with your kids as a first step to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Stress. Stress relief is one of the main reasons teens report abusing drugs. Talk to your teens about what bothers them and make sure they have a healthy stress relief plan. A report from the MetLife Foundation indicates that boys more likely drink alcohol to relax socially while 70 percent of teen girls agree that drugs help kids deal with problems at home. The same study indicates that 50 percent of teen girls say drugs help them forget problems2.
  • Limit cash. Teens that have access to cash are often targeted by other teens and adults who are looking to buy and sell drugs. Protect your child by tracking their spending habits.
  • Focus on the future. Talk to your kids often about their future plans, their dreams and how they can reach them. This is also a great way to show how drugs and alcohol can derail those dreams.
  • Give your kids an exit plan. Make sure your kids have an “out” from any situation. Let them know if they are ever uncomfortable anywhere they can call you day or night for a ride home. Let them use you as an excuse for why they can’t do something. Sometimes peer pressure is tough to stand up to, but it is easy to blame a parent and simply say, “No, I can’t go, my mom won’t let me.” Let them know this is one white lie you will allow.

Teens: Alcohol And Other Drugs

Cigarettes – The first exposure a kid gets to drugs is often cigarettes. It’s important early on to explain the dangers of smoking to small children so they get the message to stay healthy. Middle school is often when peer pressure begins to influence smoking. Getting caught smoking is a red flag for potential drug use. Warn kids about the dangers and the addiction of smoking. If you are a smoker, try to quit ( can help) and tell your children you wish you never started.

Alcohol – Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs4. Bad decisions like drinking and driving, committing crimes and personal safety are affected by underage drinking. Teens need to hear the dangers because 45 percent of them often don't see drinking alcohol as a big deal3.

Marijuana – Marijuana is one of the hardest drugs to warn kids about because they are bombarded with movies and song lyrics glamorizing this drug. “Amotivational syndrome” is often associated with prolonged marijuana use by young persons4. This is characterized by a pattern of energy loss, diminished school performance, harmed parental relationships and other behavioral disruptions. Safety concerns regarding poor decision-making are also associated with teens using marijuana.

Inhalants – Inhalant drugs are often used by children and teenagers because they can get a drunkÔÇôlike high in hundreds of legally available, inexpensive products, such as deodorant sprays, hair sprays and aerosol air fresheners. Many kids do not see the danger in this activity because it doesn’t look like a typical drug, but the dangers are just as scary. Sudden sniffing death is caused by the gases from the inhalants replacing the oxygen in the lungs and causing cardiac arrest.

Prescription Pills – Prescription pill abuse is the fastest rising drug problem for teens. Teens get pills free from friends and even the family medicine cabinet. Many teens do not see the danger in pills because they don’t look or feel like a drug. That is why 2,500 U.S. teens use prescription drugs each day to get high for first time3.

Designer Drugs – These are the fad drugs usually featured on the news as the “new” drug of choice. They are created, marketed and sold specifically to avoid existing drug laws. The latest designer drugs include Spice and Bath Salts. Both previously were available in Arizona smoke shops, but recent legislative changes have made these sales illegal. Unfortunately as soon as laws change, new designer drugs emerge. Instead of chasing knowledge on the latest drugs, parents can simply explain that taking anything that changes your brain chemicals is a drug. Changing your brain’s ability to make good decisions and taking in foreign chemicals can adversely affect your body and cause long-term effects and even death.

1Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Report   2MetLife Foundation Study   3Partnership for a Drug-Free America   4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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