Parent Resources

What are some risk factors for early substance use?

The following risk factors do not determine whether your child will begin using a substance(s). However, they do put them at a higher risk for addiction. Addressing these risk factors prior to substance use can be beneficial and preventative.


  • Family history of addiction
  • Mental health concerns
  • Lack of supervision
  • Exposure to trauma or ACEs
  • Easy access to substances
  • Peer pressure

Potential warning signs of substance use in teens

  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • Loss of Interest in hobbies and activities
  • Poor performance in school
  • Unusual mood changes
  • Increased agitation
  • Inability to focus
  • Sudden weight changes
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Problems in relationships with friends and family
  • Shaking and sweaty palms
  • Low or no energy
  • Isolation
  • Uncooperative and hostile

How can you reduce the risks?

  • Be involved
    Being involved in your child’s life brings awareness of their activities, school attendance, grades, and behaviors, while also showing them your support. Being involved also includes knowing what goes on in their lives and knowing the children and parents around them.
  • Communicate
    Healthy communication between parent and child is important to inform them of the risks associated with substance use and answer any questions they may have. This type of communication is key to a healthy relationship and will make children more comfortable if an issue may occur.
  • Stay educated
    Know the risks and share them with your child. It Is also important to know the signs and always be observant.
  • Be a positive role model
    Be aware that your child is watching and listening. This includes listening to conversations with your spouse, your friends, and others. If you choose to drink in front of your child, try to do so safely and in moderation.
  • Set and enforce rules
    Children will be more likely to follow rules when there is a good relationship and communication In place. Explain to your child why certain rules must
    be followed and share the potential harms and consequences if rules are broken.

“Why are you allowed to drink but I’m not?”

Factual answer: Adolescents are more vulnerable toaddiction than adults due to the brain development during at your age. Alcohol or any type ofsubstance use before the brain has developed increases the risks substantially of long lasting harm. For more information on brain development, visit

Drug use stats infographic

Tips on how to talk to your child about substance use

  • Take advantage of real life situations, such as seeing seeing someone intoxicated at a restaurant, commercials about substances, movies with substance use in teens.
  • Make them aware of your disapproval of substance use and explain the harms and consequences.
  • Be open and nonjudgemental
  • Be prepared to share personal experiences If you feel comfortable.
  • Keep it short, but informative.

Did You Know?

Teen drug use is declining, with only 4.3% of high schoolers answering “yes” to using a substance within the past month. However, nearly 20% of high schoolers have been offered, sold or given drugs, on school property.


Has your child already started to use substances?

You are not alone. Remember that this is an issue that you should address with caution. The best way to start is by sitting them down and having a calm conversation at an appropriate time. Showing them that you care will be more beneficial than reacting in an angry manner. During this conversation, you want to try and set goals together. If you know the goals for your child will not be met without help, do not be afraid to reach out to resources in your community or one listed below.


Awkward Conversations

DEA and Elks Drug Awareness Program Team Up to Present Season 2 of Awkward Conversations

The Drug Enforcement Administration is pleased to announce the next installment of its collaboration with the Elks Drug Awareness Program. This year’s project features the second season of a video podcast series, Awkward Conversations, featuring Full House and Fuller House’s Jodie Sweetin along with guest experts and celebrity parents. The 20 video podcast episodes cover a variety of subjects to help parents learn how to empower their kids with the tools needed to stay safe, drug free, and make healthy decisions. Topics include signs of drug use in teens, fake pills, preventing drug misuse among college students, bullying and peer pressure and its consequences, understanding your kids’ social media use, and do’s and don’ts when you talk to you children about drugs.

To view parent resources from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), please visit



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