Substance Abuse

In This Section

Students often are exposed to alcohol, drugs and tobacco at home with friends and at school.

Facts from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

  • About 30% of eighth graders have tried alcohol.
  • About half of all tenth graders drink alcohol.
  • One in six teens binge drink; yet only one in 100 parents believes his or her child binge drinks.

Facts from

  • One in four teens (24%) reports having misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime (up from 18% in 2008 to 24% in 2012).
  • More than half of teens (56 percent) indicate that it’s easy to get prescription drugs from their parent’s medicine cabinet.
  • In 2012, almost half of teens (45%) said they had used marijuana in their lifetime; four in 10 (39%) had used in the past year; and one in four (24%) had used within the past month.

Abusing these substances at a young age can be harmful to a student’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development, and it increases the risk of unsafe behaviors, automobile fatalities, and substance abuse later in life. Parents can help prevent their youth from using alcohol and other drugs by sending a strong message at home.

  • Share your values and expectations with your kid. Make a drug- and alcohol-free pact with through high school and college.
  • Set consequences. Do not allow them to think they are "getting away" with behavior that is unacceptable to the family.
  • Keep communication open about alcohol and drug use. If you overreact to bad news associated with drug and alcohol use by teens in your community, you are likely not to get a full story when you bring up the issue the next time.
  • Help your student develop a strong sense of self-esteem, along with the social skills necessary to withstand peer pressure to use alcohol and other drugs.
  • Set a good example with your own habits. Do not use drugs, and be moderate or abstain in your own use of alcohol.

Learn More 

  • Power of Parents (MADD): An underage drinking prevention program that targets parents of high school students.
  • Talk. They Hear You (SAMHSA): Underage drinking prevention campaign helps parents and caregivers start talking to their children early—as early as 9 years old—about the dangers of alcohol.
  • Smart Moves, Smart Choices (National Association of School Nurses): Helps parents start a conversation with their child about prescription drug abuse and misuse.