Knowledge is power. Parents can have a huge influence over the choices their children make. This includes the decision of whether a young person chooses to use drugs or alcohol. But before parents prevent unhealthy and potentially dangerous behaviors, it’s important to be aware of the facts.

Did you know? 

In recognition of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (March 18-24), here are some things to know:

  • Drugs cause a death in the United States every 8 minutes. Of the 70,630 drug overdose deaths in 2019, 4,777 were youth and young adults ages 15 to 24 years old.
  • Two-thirds of young people drink alcohol by the end of high school.
  • Almost half (41%) of 12th graders say they have been drunk at least once in their life.
  • Nearly half (44%) of 12th graders and nearly one-third (33%) of 10th graders say they use marijuana.
  • Almost half (47%) of 12th graders and 41% of 10th graders say they have tried vaping.

Drug and alcohol use is prevalent among young people and it’s a problem. But by educating themselves, parents can learn important prevention strategies. Then support your child by:

  • Paying attention to abrupt changes in their behaviors, moods, or emotions.
  • Letting them know they can talk about things that make them anxious (but not pressuring them to do so) 
  • Allowing them to ask questions 
  • Fostering positive and healthy activities 
  • Modeling wellness by setting routines, eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, exercising, and taking deep breaths to handle stress.
  • Reaching out to a health care provider, mental health professional, or substance use counselor, for help. 

One helpful resource, as you learn the facts, is to review Growing Up Drug Free: A Parent’s Guide to Substance Use Prevention, compiled by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Education. This publication includes information and resources about drugs and alcohol, including recognizing the signs and symptoms of use and abuse, as well as many helpful prevention strategies.