Although alcohol is used more frequently than alcohol and other drugs, the data shows that prescription drug abuse and illicit drug use are often commonly used by teenagers.  We have compiled a list of facts and tips for you to explore. If you have additional facts or tips that you feel would be a helpful addition for other parents, please submit them HERE.

Alcohol Banner

  • More than 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics (National Institute on
    Drug Abuse).
  • While alcohol use is illegal for individuals under age 21, the drug abuse warning network estimates that in 2009 there were 199,429 alcohol-related ER visits among individuals under age 21; 76,918 ER visits were reported among those aged 12 to 17, and 120,853 alcohol-related ER visits were reported among those aged 18 to 20 (Drug Abuse Warning Network).
  • 39.9% of 10th grade students and 55.6% of 12th grade students in Nebraska report that the adults in their neighborhood didn’t feel it was wrong for kids their age to drink regularly (Nebraska Risk and Protective Factor Survey).

TIP: The fear of upsetting parents is the number one reason young people give for not using drugs or alcohol. Less than 35% of parents have had any in-depth conversations with their kids about drugs (Partnership for a Drug Free America).

  • High school students surveyed in 2009 said that in the past 30 days 42% had drank some amount of alcohol, 24% binge drank, 10% drove after drinking alcohol, 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol (Youth Risk Behavior Survey).
  • In 2009, students reported that 37% of 8th graders and 72% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 15% of 8th graders and 44% of 12th graders drank during the past month (Monitoring the Future Survey).
  • Mixing pills with other drugs or with alcohol really increases your risk of death from accidental overdose (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • In 2005 1 in 3 songs said something about drug, alcohol, or tobacco use. 3 in 4 rap songs said something about drug, alcohol, or tobacco use. 7 in 10 movies showed characters smoking. 1 in 3 movies showed people getting drunk (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

TIP: Talk with your children about a recent drug or alcohol related incident in your community or family.

Prescription Medication Spilling From an Open Medicine Bottle

  • Abuse of prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall can cause serious health problems, including panic attacks, seizures, and heart attacks (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Repeated drug use can reset the brain’s pleasure meter, so that without the drug, you feel hopeless and sad. Eventually, everyday fun stuff like spending time with friends or playing with your dog doesn’t make you happy anymore (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Pain Relievers are now the top abused illicit drug for persons age 12 and older, higher than tranquilizers and cocaine combined (Health and Human Services).
  • Over 50% of teens believe that abusing prescription and over the counter medications to get high is NOT risky (Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey).

TIP: Communicate the risks of prescription drug abuse to your kids. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs are 50% less likely to use drugs (

  • In 2009, 20% of U.S. high school students had ever taken a prescription drug, such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax, without a doctor’s prescription (Center for Disease Control).
  • Every day in the United States, an average of 2,000 teenagers use prescription drugs without a doctor’s guidance for the first time (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

TIP: Safeguard your own medicines. Keep prescription medicine in a secure place, count and monitor the number of pills you have.

  • Painkillers are one of the most commonly abused drugs by teens after tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Opioids (such as OxyContin or Percocet), CNS depressants (such as Valium or Xanax), and stimulants (such as Adderall or Ritalin) are the most commonly abused prescription drugs (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Drug poisoning deaths are now the second leading cause of death from injuries, second only to motor vehicle traffic accidents (CDC).

TIP: Students who feel connected to school believe that adults and peers in the school care about their learning as well as about them as individuals. When students feel connected to school, they are less likely to engage in a variety of risk behaviors, including alcohol and drug use. Connected students are also more likely to have higher grades and test scores, have better school attendance, and stay in school longer.

medicinal marijuana

  • Most people who start smoking in their teens become regular smokers before they’re 18. For Marijuana, about 1 in 11 people that use it become addicted (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

TIP: If you and your child see a group of kids smoking, use the moment to talk about the negative effects of tobacco or marijuana use.

  • In 2009, almost one million visits to the emergency room involved an illicit drug, either alone or in combination with other types of drugs. Marijuana was involved in 376,467 of these ER visits (
  • Daily Marijuana use increased among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 2009 to 2010. Marijuana use is now ahead of cigarette smoking on some measures (due to decreases in smoking and recent increases in marijuana use). In 2010, 21.4 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days, while 19.2 percent smoked cigarettes. (Monitoring the Future Survey)
  • More than 104 million Americans over the age of 12 had tried marijuana at least once, and almost 17 million had used the drug in the month before the survey (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Marijuana’s negative effects on attention, motivation, memory, and learning can last for days and sometimes weeks after its immediate effects wear off—especially in chronic users (
  • Someone who smokes marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time. Compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school. Long-term marijuana users report decreased overall life satisfaction, including diminished mental and physical health, memory and relationship problems, lower salaries, and less career success (
  • Suspension of marijuana use results in withdrawals. Researchers have clearly characterized a set of symptoms that many long-term users experience when they stop using the drug. The symptoms are similar in type and severity to those of nicotine withdrawal— irritability, sleeping difficulties, anxiety, and craving—which often prompt relapse (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

TIP:  Share with your children that for many years, this was a subject of debate; but Withdrawal symptoms peak a few days after use has stopped and dissipate within about 2 weeks. And while these symptoms do not pose an immediate threat to the health of the user, they can make it hard for someone to remain abstinent (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

  • In addition to psychosis, chronic marijuana use has been associated with an array of psychological effects, including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and personality disturbances. One of the most frequently cited is an “amotivational syndrome,” which describes a diminished or lost drive to engage in formerly rewarding activities (