Statistics/General Information

Many parents are unaware of the range of substances that teens may abuse. The liquor cabinet is not the only cabinet teens are accessing to get high.  According to research, the most common way for teens to get high is to search their parents’ medicine cabinet. Parental communication is proven to be the most effective way to prevent teens from abusing drugs. Therefore, parents should make sure their teenagers know it is not okay to take prescription drugs not prescribed to the or OTC drugs unnecessarily. Because these drugs are easily accessible, teens often perceive them as being safe.


The abuse of Rx and OTC Drugs can:

  • Increase blood pressure or heart rate

  • Damage the brain and other organs

  • Lead to accidental overdose/poisoning

  • Cause physical dependency/addiction

  • Disrupt breathing

  • Lead to risks associated with mixing drugs or combining alcohol

  • Cause seizures and even death



How they work: Used to relieve moderate-to-severe pain, these medications block pain signals to the brain.

Abused by teens to: Get high, increase feelings of well being by affecting the brain regions that mediate pleasure


How they work: Primarily used to treat ADHD type symptoms, these speed up brain activity causing increased alertness, attention, and energy that comes with elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate and breathing.

Abused by teens to: Feel alert, focused and full of energy – perhaps around final exams or to manage coursework, lose weight

How they work:  Used to slow down or “depress” the functions of the brain and central nervous system pressure.

Abused by teens to: Feel calm, reduce stress, sleep

Warning Signs & Health Consequences

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Use

It’s not always easy to tell when your kids or teens are using drugs, because many signs or symptoms are common for young people this age.


Some Physical Warning Signs

 pillsingleExcessive sweating, urination or thirst

 pillsingleNausea and vomiting

 pillsingleUncontrollable diarrhea

 pillsingleSpastic shaking

pillsingleDrowsiness, dizziness and insomnia

 pillsingleLoss of consciousness

 pillsingleImpaired vision and depth perception

 pillsinglePhysical dependence

pillsingleAddiction


Some Psycho/Social Warning Signs

 pillsingleSudden mood changes, including irritability, negative attitude, personality change.

 pillsingleExtreme changes in groups of friends or hangout locations.

 pillsingleLying or being deceitful, unaccounted time away from home/missed school days, avoiding eye contact.

 pillsingleLosing interest in personal appearance, extracurricular activities or sports.

 pillsinglePoor performance at school.

 pillsingleBorrowing money or having extra cash.

 pillsingleVisiting and even purchasing from pro-drug abuse (illegal) websites.



Health Consequences

Many teenagers don’t know that abusing drugs can increase blood pressure or heart rate, damage the brain and other organs, lead to accidental overdose/poisonings, disrupt breathing, cause seizures and even death.


The “Lows”

pillsingle Delusions

pillsingle Panic attacks

pillsingle Memory problems

pillsingle Blurred vision

pillsingle Stomach pain

pillsingle Nausea and vomiting

pillsingle High blood pressure and rapid heart beat

pillsingle Numbness of fingers and toes

pillsingle Drowsiness and dizziness

pillsingleFever and Headaches

pillsingle Rashes and itchy skin

pillsingle Loss of consciousness


The “Highs”

pillsingle Distortions of color and sound

pillsingle Strong visual hallucinations

pillsingle “Out of body” sensations

pillsingle Confusion

pillsingle Slurred speech

pillsingle Loss of motor control


How to Talk & Prevention Methods


Talking to your children about the dangers of drug use works! Here’s the proof:


26% of students who reported their parents NEVER TALK to them about the dangers of drugs reported using an illicit drug in the past year.


ONLY 16% of students who reported their parents OFTEN TALK to them about the dangers of drugs reported using an illicit drug in the past year.

What does that mean? The more you TALK to your kids about the DANGERS of drug use, the less likely they are to use!

Start the conversation today!


Tell Your Teen What You Expect

It’s important that your kid and/or teen knows what you expect.  Make it clear that you do not want any alcohol and drug use in your house.  Tell your child that there will be consequences for using drugs.  As your child enters middle school and high school, he/she will be at a greater risk of using drugs and alcohol if you have not made your expectations clear.  Kids and teens need to know where you stand.  Here are some clear ways you can tell your child what you expect:

“I’ve been thinking lately that I’ve never actually told you this: I don’t want you using marijuana, alcohol, tobacco or any drug.  The rule in our house is that nobody uses drugs. “

Set Rules

Even though your kids/ teens are getting older and spending more time without you, it’s more important than ever to set rules and expectations.  Setting a firm rule of no alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drug use will help your child resist pressures to use drugs.

When Your Child Breaks the Rules

Parents need to enforce rules consistently and fairly. When rules are broken, some possible consequences could include:

  • Restricting Internet, television or video game use
  • Suspending outside activities, such as going to the mall or movies
  • Disallowing telephone calls
  • Suspending use of cell phones
  • Suspending driving privileges if old enough to drive

Risky Situations

Let your kids/teens know that you do not want them in risky situations. Tell them:

“I don’t want you riding in a car with a driver who’s been drinking or using drugs like marijuana.  It’s my job as a parent to keep you safe, so I’m going to ask you questions about who you’re with and what you are doing. “

Giving Advice on Avoiding Risky Situations

Here are some lines you can give your kids to help them stay away from risky situations:

“I don’t really want to do that.  Let’s play basketball instead [or suggest another activity that you would like to do].”

“My dad (or mom, grandmother, etc.) would ground me if he (or she) knew I was around marijuana (or another drug).”

“No, thanks. It’s not for me. “

“I don’t do drugs. I could get kicked off the team if anyone found out. “

Be Aware of Messages That Encourage Drug Use

Many parents are concerned about messages on television, in movies and music that encourage or trivialize drug use and that fail to show the harm of using drugs.

You can set rules about what your teens watch on television and movies they see.  Most cable companies allow you to set parental controls to prevent your children from being able to watch channels and content you do not approve of.  Contact your cable provider or research online to see what your parental control options are.

If your child has access to devices that connect to the Internet from computers to smart phones and even gaming consoles, you should let your children know that you are in charge of their time online.  Parental controls are available for Internet access, so your kids cannot access content that you do not allow.  Not only can kids/teens find websites that promote drugs, but they can actually buy drugs over the Internet.  If your kid/teen spends time online, you may want to consider checking the Internet search history regularly to ensure he/or she isn’t searching for things you do not approve of.

Stay Involved in Your Kid’s/Teen’s Life

Experts say in order to create an environment that helps keep your kids/teens stay away from marijuana and other drugs, you should:

  • Get involved in your children’s lives.
  • Know what your children are doing – their activities and how they spend their time.
  • Know who their friends are.
  • Always check in with the parents who are hosting a party your child will be attending.
  • Praise and reward good behavior.

Research shows that kids who are not regularly monitored by their parents are four times more likely to use drugs. Before going out, have them tell you WHO they are going to be spending time with, WHAT they will be doing, WHEN or what time they will be at their expected destination and finally, exactly WHERE they are going to be. Every once in a while, check on your kids/teens to see if they are where they said they would be. It’s not pestering, it’s parenting.

A lot of kids/teens get in trouble with alcohol, marijuana and other drugs right after school, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.  Try to be with your children then, but if you can’t, make sure your child is doing something positive with a trusted adult around: sports, jobs, clubs, after-school programs or faith-based groups.  If your children have to be at home, make sure they are doing homework or chores and not hanging out unsupervised with friends.  Having positive activities to participate in is important to keeping your children away from alcohol and other drugs.

Catching Your Child with Drugs

If you have caught your child using drugs or “holding” them for a friend, wait until you are calm to talk to your child.  Then, tell your child it’s okay to be honest with you, that you want to know the truth. The following phrases can get good communication going:

“I’m really disappointed. You know I don’t approve of drug use.”

“I don’t approve of you using marijuana, alcohol or other drugs.”

Your Child Admits to Having Tried Drugs

The idea is to reinforce the rules about alcohol, marijuana and other drug use while keeping the lines of communication open.

“I’m glad you told me, but let me remind you that drugs get in the way of your being healthy and happy. You can lose your driver’s license. You can get kicked off the team. You can fail at school. “

If your child has admitted to using drugs recently, you might want to ask your doctor or counselor for help.

Your Child Says, “Everyone Is Doing It.”

You say, “I’m not interested in what other kids are doing. I know I don’t want you using alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.”  Encourage your child to make better choices about who they choose to hang out with.  Help them to understand that the actions and choices of their friends are a direct reflection of how people will see your child.   

Your Teen’s Friend or Parent Tried Drugs

You can say, “I don’t want you hanging out with kids who smoke marijuana or drink alcohol. You know that when you’re around people who use drugs, I’m afraid they’ll try to pressure you to use drugs.”

If Your Teen Asks, “Did You Ever Do Drugs?”

It’s important to be honest, but you don’t need to include too many details.  If you did use drugs, you can say, “When I was young I smoked marijuana because some of my friends did.  I thought I needed to in order to fit in.  If I had known then about the consequences, I never would have tried marijuana, and I’ll do everything I can to help keep you away from it.  Something bad could have happened to me and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

Calling on Your Community

You and your family are not alone. You can call on your neighbors to join forces with you. Many parents have organized networking groups in their neighborhoods for talking about how to handle problems. Other parents organize alcohol- and drug-free neighborhood events and parties. Your teen’s school has people who can help – guidance counselors, teachers, coaches and other adults. Many parents also find help in their faith communities, and many belong to other community groups. When parents and teens take the time to talk to each other, their lives can be healthier and more enjoyable, and in the process, you’ll be doing your part in helping your teens to grow up drug-free.









This website was developed, in part, under grant number 1H79SP020340-01 from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The views, opinions, and content of this publication are those of the authors and contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of ONDCP, SAMHSA, or HHS, and should not be construed as such.Copyright 2015 Cleveland County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition | All Rights Reserved | The Awen Group