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Substance Abuse Prevention

Raising awareness to look for signs of drug use

No one wants to believe their child will become a drug addict. For many parents, it may seem like a remote possibility, their son or daughter does well in school, participates in extra curricular activities, and aside from the usual teenage rebellion appears to be headed on the right path. Yet there are countless stories online about young people who became addicted to opiates or other drugs, and much to our great sadness those who overdosed.

Parents need to be aware that any child is susceptible to drug use these days and look for the signs. The environment and culture in which we live today can overpower the positive guidance and influence a parent has provided for their child.

Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs

Simply put, we live in a crazy world, and drugs are a multi-billion dollar industry, and sooner or later someone is going to try to convince your child that they should try them. If at that moment they are faced with challenges in life they are not prepared to deal with, or are simply bored and looking for a little excitement, they might just say yes.

Common signs a teen is using drugs

While each drug has a unique set of signs and symptoms, there are some general indications that alcohol or drugs are being abused:

Behavioral signs or changes:

Everyone has their own personality and issues whether they are using or not, which means you are most often looking for a change in attitude as an indication. The following are some of the emotional and behavioral signs a young person may using drugs or alcohol.

• Secrecy, staying in his or her room for long periods
• Avoiding eye or physical contact
• Lack of communication, rejecting attempts to communicate
• Finding excuses for any problem, routinely blames others
• Unusually excited, especially at odd times
• Bursts of anger and counter-accusations if questioned on activities or whereabouts
• Gloomy or negative attitudes
• Taking long hot showers several times day/night (indicates marijuana use)
• Disinterest in former activities, goals or school
• Appearing somewhat delusional or paranoid at times
• Less communicative, more secretive
• Moods throughout the day such as upbeat in the morning and unhappy at night)
• Switching friends for no apparent reason
• Lack of motivation or interest in the future
• Frequent use of gum, mints or mouthwash
• Having much less money than usual
• Having too much money (could indicate drug dealing)
• Possessions become messy, broken or dirty
• Being fired from a job or jobs

Physical signs or changes:

• Frequent runny nose or sniffles
• More frequent illnesses
• Complains of nausea, stomachache or constipation
• Unusual tiredness and fatigue
• Eyes are dry or red
• Vomiting
• Sudden or extrem weight gain or loss
• Sweatiness or change in odor
• Clenching teeth
• Unintelligible, fast or slurred speech
• Overly tired, needs naps at unusual times
• Stains or burns on fingertips
• Unusual smells on his person, his clothes or possessions
• Keeps body covered with long sleeves, long pants (even in hot weather), hoodies

The discovery of drugs and paraphernalia is the most obvious sign and usually undisputable. Here are a few of the paraphernalia you might find:
Pipes, bongs, rolling papers used for marijuana, alcohol bottles or cans; or syringes, rubber tubing, burnt spoons which indicate heroin use.
Other material that can be a sign of drug use are torn, folded scraps of paper, small torn corners of plastic bag or small pieces of aluminum foil that are flat, burnt or wadded up in balls. Also be alert for any object with residues of green flecks, white, brown or pink powder.

What to do if you suspect they may be using

• Make it safe for your teen to talk to you, give assurance that they won’t be punished or that you won’t think less of them. Kids hide their destructive acts for fear of repercussions or letting a parent down.
• Find an outside friend or someone they look up to who can speak to them. Most teens feel their parents live in another world and don’t understand them, so communication about their drug use can be difficult at best. There maybe an adult friend who they may be more willing to listen to.
• Set boundaries if you have to. Let them know you care and will do anything to ensure they don’t become another statistic.
• Provide reliable information in order to educate them on the real consequences. Most often young people have been fed lies from friends who are using or from those who are profiting from the sales of drugs.

If you discover your child is using more than occasionally or clearly addicted, get professional help. The action you take could very well save their life.

If you are worried that your child may be using or is in danger of experimenting, using, or abusing illegal drugs or other prohibited substances, please contact the school counselor. The school counselor can provide you with a list of community resources that may be of assistance to you.

To prevent substance abuse we offer students and parents the educational programs. You may find the complete list of classes on this page.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

Click here to visit the SAMHSA website.

Center of Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)

The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention is a United States agency under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. CSAP's mission is to reduce the use of illegal substances and the abuse of legal ones.

Click here to visit the CSAP website.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Our mission is to advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health.

This involves:
• Strategically supporting and conducting basic and clinical research on drug use (including nicotine), its consequences, and the underlying neurobiological, behavioral, and social mechanisms involved.
• Ensuring the effective translation, implementation, and dissemination of scientific research findings to improve the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders and enhance public awareness of addiction as a brain disorder.

Click here to visit the NIDA website.

Texas School Safety Center

The Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) is an official university-level research center at Texas State University. The TxSSC is tasked in Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code and the Governor’s Homeland Security Strategic Plan with key school safety initiatives and mandates. Specifically, the TxSSC serves as a clearinghouse for the dissemination of safety and security information through research, training, and technical assistance for K-12 schools and junior colleges throughout the state of Texas. In addition, the TxSSC also builds partnerships among youth, adults, schools, law enforcement officers, and community stakeholders to reduce the impact of tobacco on all Texans through prevention, training and enforcement initiatives.

Click here to visit the TxSSC website.

National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAAA supports and conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health and well-being. It is the largest funder of alcohol research in the world.

Click here to visit the NIAAA website.

Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) 

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) works to reduce drug use and its consequences by leading and coordinating the development, implementation, and assessment of U.S. drug policy.

Click here to visit the ONDCP website.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.

Click here to visit the DEA website.