Counselor's Corner » Drug and Alcohol Prevention

Drug and Alcohol Prevention

Statistics show children are starting to use substances younger than ever, particularly between the ages of 11 and 13.  

Some factors place children and teens at an even greater risk of developing drug and alcohol problems:

  • Drug or alcohol use at an early age - 90% of individuals who experience addiction started using in the teen years or prior

  • Family history of drug/alcohol problems

  • Existing mental health problems

  • Associating with friends who use drugs and alcohol

  • Traumatic events

  • Impulse control problems

There is a clear connection between adolescent drug and alcohol use and unhealthy, risky behaviors including:

  • Unprotected, unplanned, unwanted sexual activity

  • Victim or perpetrator of violence

  • Impaired motor vehicle driving/passenger

  • Poor academic performance and possibly dropping out

  • Involvement with the juvenile justice system

  • Engaging in other risky behaviors while impaired


Prevention Techniques

Your children do listen to you, and they do not want to disappoint you!

  • Establish and maintain good communication with your children.

  • Get involved in your children’s lives.

  • Make clear rules and enforce them consistently.

  • Be a positive role model.

  • Help your children choose friends wisely.

  • Talk to your children about drugs. Kids who continue to learn about the risks of drugs at home are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who are not taught about these dangers.


Warning Sign of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Behavioral Changes

  • Has changed relationships with family members or friends
  • Uses chewing gum or mints to cover up breath
  • Often uses over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening or nasal irritation
  • Frequently breaks curfew
  • Has cash flow problems
  • Drives recklessly, and has car accidents or unexplained dents in the car
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Locks doors
  • Goes out every night
  • Makes secretive phone calls
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Has the “munchies” or sudden appetite
  • Exhibits uncharacteristically loud, obnoxious behavior
  • Laughs at nothing
  • Has become unusually clumsy: stumbling, lacking coordination, poor balance
  • Disappears for long periods of time
  • Has periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up” sleep

Mood & Personality Shifts

  • Exhibits mood changes or emotional instability
  • Sullen, withdrawn, depressed
  • Shows loss  of inhibitions
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Hostile, angry, uncooperative
  • Deceitful or secretive
  • Less motivated
  • Unable to focus
  • Hyperactive
  • Unusually elated

Hygiene & Appearance Problems

  • Smell of smoke or other unusual smells on the breath or on clothes
  • Messy appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Red, flushed cheeks or face
  • Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)
  • Burns or soot on fingers or lips (from “joints” or “roaches” burning down)

Health Issues

  • Unusually tired
  • Lethargic movement
  • Unable to speak intelligibly, slurred speech, or rapid-fire speech
  • Nosebleeds
  • Runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Frequent sickness
  • Sores, spots around mouth
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Wetting lips or excessive thirst (known as “cotton mouth”)
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Sweatiness

School and Work Concerns

  • Absenteeism or loss of interest
  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies or sports
  • Failure to fulfill responsibilities at school or work
  • Complaints from teachers or supervisors
  • Reports of intoxication at school or work