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Substance Abuse

The teen years are a time to explore and learn more about yourself. Often, this involves experimenting and testing boundaries. The desire to do something new or risky is a normal part of teen development. This may include experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

Teenagers feel indestructible and don’t realize that introducing drugs or alcohol to the brain when it is still developing may cause serious changes that can last a long time. It can impact a student’s ability to learn and sleep. Some drugs severely impair a person’s ability to make healthy choices and decisions.

  • 1 out of 4 Michigan high school students report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days.[1]
  • 1 out of 4 Michigan high school students say that they were offered, sold, or given illegal drugs on school property.[2]
  • 1 out of 8 Michigan high school students say they have taken prescription drugs without a prescription or differently from how a doctor told them.[3]
  • And more than a third of Michigan high school students report having used marijuana.[4] 

It's easy for a student to get caught up in a social scene with lots of peer pressure. You may think that you could try and or use any of these substances safely, but …

  • Depending on your body size, shape, and chemistry, drugs can either intensify or dull your senses. Drugs can cause seizures, heart attacks, or coma, even the first time.
  • The people offering you drugs have no control over where the drugs came from – or what has been added to them.
  • Vaping marijuana (THC oil) can be more dangerous than smoking the drug. This is because people often vape a higher concentration of THC which, in turn, intensifies the high and can increase the likelihood of addiction and adverse medical consequences.
  • Binge drinking (consuming a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time) is a serious risk for anyone but poses a particularly large threat for teens. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in a row by males and four or more in a row by females.
  • Alcohol poisoning, which often results from binge drinking, occurs when a person’s blood alcohol concentration level is so high that it is considered toxic or poisonous. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism provides a list of warning signs of alcohol poisoning.
  • Substance use can lead to serious problems such as poor schoolwork, loss of friends, problems at home, and lasting legal problems.
  • Alcohol and drug use are a leading cause of teen death or injury related to car crashes, suicides, violence, and drowning.
  • Substance use can increase the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, because of unprotected sex.

Anyone can be affected by drug and alcohol misuse and abuse. There are no barriers that make anyone safe from this issue. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re being encouraged to drink alcohol or try drugs, here are some things to think about.

  • Develop some reasonable excuses to say “NO!”
    • “No, I’m good.” (And then get involved in your iPhone)
    • Pretend you did not hear them and walk away.
    • “No, thanks. I’m really not into that.”
    • “Ummm, no. My mom (or dad) would freak out”
    • “Nope. My friend [or relative, someone I knew, etc.] overdosed and died.”
    • “I can’t. My school or job could do a random drug test.”
    • “Oh. No thanks. I have to go (home, to work, church, a date, etc.) soon.
  • Consider setting up a codeword or phrase strategy with a trusted adult. If you are in a pressure situation and want to leave, text the code word as a way of asking for an immediate ride home or an excuse to need to leave.
  • If you or someone you care about has problems with alcohol or drugs, talk to a trusted adult or report it to OK2SAY. As hard as this can be, speaking up and getting help for yourself or a friend is the most important thing you can do.
  • If you suspect that a friend has consumed alcohol (or another controlled substance), get him or her out of the situation.
  • Do not get into the car of someone who has been drinking or using drugs.
  • If you suspect someone is overdosing seek medical attention immediately. You could save their life.