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School Drug Abuse


This section deals specifically with the abuse of alcohol and drugs at school. Therefore, this section is of particular interest to educators and students. Although parents may find the information provided useful, the Help for Parents & Teens section is more appropriate when your adolescent son or daughter is struggling with alcohol and other drugs.

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To use an old sports cliché, the best defense is a good offense. When it comes to drug abuse and addiction, prevention can help stem the demand for treatment if started early with an effective, consistent message and progressive, sophistication that is reflective of the age and maturity level of the student.

Teachers have a vital and unique role to play in a community’s efforts at curbing the impact of drug abuse. While employers have influence with adults, educators have a similar influence with children and adolescents. Both educators and employers can partner with families to reduce the negative influence of the media and the child’s peer group on the initiation of alcohol and other drug use.

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Drug abuse education and prevention has never been more important that it is now. Our communities are struggling to keep pace with drugs that have high euphoric effect (and greater risk for addiction), greater affordability, and more accessibility. Drugs like cocaine that were considered “hard-core” only a generation ago are no longer taboo. Kids now have more than just bush parties and bars where, a generation ago, alcohol and marijuana were the drugs of choice. Now, teens and young adults have raves and new “club” drugs such as ecstasy, GHB and ketamine.

Recreational activities for teens have also changed. Impromptu street hockey and touch football games are less frequent due to parental fears of predators, the growth of video gaming and the advent of scheduled recreational activities. This excessive focus on performance, overscheduling, and worries about the future put added pressure on teenagers and some find relief in the form of mood-altering drugs.

Finally, children and adolescents are experiencing the strains of the modern family who have come to expect a standard of living that requires both parents to work. Exhausted parents rushing from work, throwing together a meal then driving off to sports or music for the kids do not always allow time to talk about alcohol and drug abuse or the pressures of growing up in today’s fast-paced world.

Clearly, the time for a bigger role for school drug abuse prevention and education is now.

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According to former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders,

“What is notable about tobacco use is that it consistently occurs early in the sequence of problem behaviors. When a young person starts to smoke or use tobacco, it is a signal, an alarm that he or she may get involved in other risky behaviors. This is one of the few early warning signs we have in public health. If we can prevent tobacco use in the first place, we might have a big impact on preventing or delaying a host of other destructive behaviors among our young people.”

While it is often said that marijuana is the gateway drug – the drug that gets kids started and leads to more dangerous drugs – our experience at Sunshine Coast Health Center has been that the real gateway drug to drug abuse is tobacco ¹.

In Canada, the Risks Associated with Tobacco Use in Youth Aged 15-19 summarizes the results of the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey which confirms the association between tobacco and other drugs.

Research has also shown that individuals suffering from mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia have a greater incidence of smoking than the general population ².

For more information on tobacco see the Tobacco section.

(1) Note: Admission questionnaires show that 80 to 90 percent of our male clients with drug and alcohol addiction Sunshine Coast Health Center also smoke.

(2) Lasser K, Boyd JW, Woolhandler S, Himmelstein DU, McCormick D, Bor DH. Smoking and mental illness. A population-based prevalence study. (2000) JAMA 284:2606-2610.

For more references please visit Sarnia Online.

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the United States conducted a study with seventh-grade students who were provided 45-minute sessions on the dangers of drugs, how to refuse drugs when they are offered, and how to stand up for themselves. During a one year follow-up the students that were provided drug and alcohol prevention showed much lower rates of drug use than kids who did not receive the same education.

Read this report to learn more about why few middle schools use proven prevention programs.

For more information visit the Project Alert website.

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Based on long-term research, NIDA has developed the following principles to help educators, parents, and community leaders deliver effective drug abuse prevention programs at the community level. It is important to design programs specifically for your intended audience. For more information refer to Lessons from Prevention Research.

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The following resources provide addiction prevention resources for educators and law enforcement officers who work with school children, parents, public health providers, and law enforcement.

Additional resource information for employers is available in the Workplace Substance Abuse section.

Addiction prevention information for parents, as well as public health providers, and law enforcement that work in communities are referred to the Addiction Prevention Resources section.

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Printed Resources – College Drinking and School Drug Abuse

Alcoholism/Chemical Dependency and the College Student (1989) offers forthright and clear descriptions, explanations, and suggestions for helping students, including examples of university services that have proven successful in dealing with student substance abuse. Timothy Rivinus.

Printed Resources – Correctional Settings and School Drug Abuse

Arresting Addictions: Drug Education and Relapse Prevention in Corrections (2002) Robert B. Alexander and George John Pratsinak

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Printed Resources – Educator Resources for School Drug Abuse

Basics of Drug Education (1998) Albert E. Bedworth and Joseph A. D’Elia

Counseling the Adolescent Substance Abuser: School-based Intervention and Prevention (1994) provides the information needed to offer effective counseling services and prevention programs to all adolescents. It gives an overview of the drug problem, describes how school professionals can intervene, and shows how to address the treatment needs of addicted teens and their families within the school setting.Marlene Miziker Gonet.

Drug Abuse Prevention: A School and Community Partnership (2nd Ed.)(2003) shows teachers, guidance counselors, public health educators, and social workers how to plan and implement successful drug abuse prevention programs. Richard W. Wilson, Cheryl Kolander.

Drug Education: Content and Methods (1987) Daniel A. Girdano

Drug Education in Schools by Great Britain (1997) Office for Standards in Education and Great Britain

Handbook of Drug Abuse Prevention (Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research) (2006) Zili Sloboda and William J. Bukoski

Helping Students Overcome Substance Abuse: Effective Practices for Prevention and Intervention (2007) shows ways to identify students at risk and implement programs that meet a broad continuum of needs. Provides both prevention and intervention coverage for middle and high school settings. Jason J. Burrow-Sanchez, Leanne S. Hawken.

Drug Abuse Relapse: Helping Teens to Get Clean Again (2000) is a program for students that includes a testing component to ensure comprehension. Barbara Moe.

Making Healthy Decisions: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs 1 (Teacher’s Guide) (2000) helps students learn skills to resist peer support and societal pressure to use drugs, develop preventative attitudes, and learn the effects of using. Stop Teen Addiction to Tobacco (STOP).

Multisystemic Therapy and Neighborhood Partnerships: Reducing Adolescent Violence and Substance Abuse (2005) provides an exemplary approach to empowering communities to reduce youth violence and substance abuse and promote school success. Cindy Cupit Swenson, Scott W. Henggeler, Ida S. Taylor, Oliver W. Addison.

Preschoolers and Substance Abuse: Strategies for Prevention and Intervention (Haworth Addictions Treatment) (Haworth Addictions Treatment) (1993) explores the problem, exposes our ignorance and need of research, and points to specific areas where improvement is possible right now with practical suggestions. Pedro J. Lecca and Thomas D. Watts

Questions and Answers on Drug Education (General Aptitude and Abilities Series) (1997) Jack Rudman

Schools: School Based Education for Drug Abuse Prevention (2005)

The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians (2003) H. Wesley Perkins

Street Smarts – A Drug Education and Prevention Program (1999)

Substance Abuse: Information for School Counselors, Social Workers, Therapists, and Counselors (2000) provides updated coverage and clinical examples on different treatment models. A detailed overview for school counselors, social workers and students. Gary L. Fisher, Thomas C. Harrison.

Understanding Drugs: A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Other Professionals (ManchesterMetropolitanUniversity Education Series) (1996) David Emmett and Graeme Nice

Youths Serving Youths in Drug Education Programs (2004) George R. Taylor

Understanding Drugs: A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Other Professionals (Manchester Metropolitan University Education Series) by David Emmett and Graeme Nice (Paperback – Nov 1996)

Printed Resources – Education for Special Needs Children and Addiction Prevention

Special Needs and Drug Education (David Fulton / Nasen Publication) (2005) Richard Ives

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Websites Specific to School Drug Abuse

Understanding Drug and Alcohol Addiction on College Campuses

Alcohol and College Drinking Prevention Research


National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign

Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (US)

Preventing Addiction: Giving Kids Ways to Say No to Drugs

Sara’s Quest

The Underage Drinking Research Initiative

Online Resources – Academic Performance and School Drug Abuse

Academic Performance and Youth Substance Use (September 2002) studies the relationship between school grades and substance use. National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. The NHSDA Report. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Online Resources – Children Websites for School Drug Abuse


Online Resources – Family Websites for School Drug Abuse

Too Smart to Start

Online Resources – Parent Websites for School Drug Abuse

NIDA for Teens: Parents & Teachers section

Parents. The Anti-Drug

Online Resources – Teen Websites for School Drug Abuse

AADAC Youth Site

The Cool Spot

NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse

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Online Resources – College Drinking and School Drug Abuse

A Back-to-School Conversation You Need to Have (September 2006) is for parents of college students heading to college for the first time. Another article shows parents of kids entering college how to help their kids avoid drug abuse. NIH News in Health.

College Drinking, What It Is, and What to Do about It: A Review of the State of the Science (March 2002) National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Volume 14.

Fall Semester – A Time for Parents to Discuss the Risks of College Drinking (August 2007) contains information that can help parents prepare their college-age sons and daughters by talking with them about the consequences of excessive drinking. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIH Publication 07-5640.

Parents – Spring Break is Another Important Time to Discuss College Drinking (March 2007) is for parents to talk to their college-age kids to help prepare for their spring break escape. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIH Publication 05-5642.

Online Resources – Drug Testing and School Drug Abuse

Strategies for Success (Fall 2007) highlights random drug testing programs in US schools.

What You Need to Know About Starting a Student Drug-Testing Program is a booklet that reviews the steps you need to take before implementing a student drug-testing program. It offers guidance on how to find funding for the program and includes a discussion of how some schools select students for testing.

Online Resources – Educator Resources and School Drug Abuse

NIDA also has A Collection of Articles on Drug Abuse Prevention Research and the Community which lists all of their articles on this topic since 1995.

Scholastic has Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body which focuses on how drugs and stress affect the body.

Girls and Drugs: A New Analysis: Recent Trends, Risk Factors and Consequences (February 2006) is a report that provides analysis of recent findings on drug and alcohol use trends among girls.

Focus on Marijuana: A Unit for Middle and High School Educators is anti-drug education provided by the New York Times designed for teachers. New York Times.

Media Literacy for Drug Prevention: A Unit for Middle School Educators is a New York Times website designed to help teachers teach students about the influence of media on drug and alcohol use.

National Teach-In to Prevent Underage Alcohol Use is designed especially for teachers for use by fifth- and sixth-grade students.

Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents presents updated prevention principles, an overview of program planning, and critical first steps for those learning about prevention.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has the Teacher’s Guide for Mind Over Matter: The Brain’s Response to Drugs , the Teacher’s Guide on Nicotine, and the Teacher’s Guide on Methamphetamine.

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Online Resources – Families and School Drug Abuse

Suspect Your Teen is Using Drugs or Drinking? Is a brief guide to action for parents. The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.

For more information see the Help for Families and Partners section.

Online Resources – Government Programs for School Drug Abuse

Promoting Health Development Through School-Based Prevention: New Approaches(1991) Eric Gopelrud (ed.), Rockville, MD: Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP), US Dept. of Health and Human Services

Inventory of State Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Activities and Expenditures (November 2006) is a document that describes how States spend the funds allocated to them by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Block Grant Program for substance abuse prevention and treatment services and how States allocate their own funding for these services.

Survey questions effectiveness of prevention in schools (2003) reveals that youth prevention efforts in Canada were given poor marks for school-based prevention efforts.  Action News, Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse (CCSA).

Online Resources – Parenting and School Drug Abuse

Parents: Help Your Teens Party Right at Graduation (May 2005) recommends that parents talk to their children before the grad party. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIH Publication 05-5641.

For more information see the Help for Parents & Teens section.

Online Resources – Prescription Drugs and School Drug Abuse

Prescription for Danger (January 2008) is a report on the troubling trend of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse among the nation’s teens. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

Online Resources – Prevention Programs for School Drug Abuse

SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a searchable database of interventions for the prevention and treatment of mental and substance use disorders. SAMHSA has developed this resource to help people, agencies, and organizations implement programs and practices in their communities.

A Strong Start: Good practices in using a local situation assessment to begin a youth substance abuse prevention project (2004) will help stakeholders build a firm foundation for their youth substance abuse prevention initiative by conducting a local situation assessment. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Health Organization. ISBN 92-1-148192-9

The Promising Practices Network has a list of proven and promising substance abuse programs for children, families and communities.

Online Resources – Publisher Links for School Drug Abuse

Channing Bete Company has proven-effective academic and prevention materials for students, parents, and staff to help every student succeed. Has specific resources for alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) as well as social and emotional learning.

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Online Resources – Recreation and School Drug Abuse

Team Sports Participation and Substance Use Among Youths (February 2002) is a survey of athletes and their use of drugs or alcohol. NHSDA Report (National Household Survey on Drug Abuse). Substance Abuse and Mental Health and Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Online Resources – Research and School Drug Abuse

2004 Canadian Campus Survey (2005) has an objective to build understanding regarding the individual, social and environmental determinants of hazardous drinking among Canadian undergraduates interviewed in 2004. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Alcohol and Other Drug Use By Manitoba Students (May 2005) is a summary of a survey of alcohol use, other drug use, and gambling activity by Manitoba students. (July 2005) Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM).

Horizons Three – Young Canadians’ Alcohol and Other Drug Use: Increasing Our Understanding (1995) is intended as a quick reference and resource for addictions and public health staff involved in public health education and community development, and others who need to collect better information on young peoples’ alcohol and other drug use. Health Canada. Cat. No. H39-307/3-1996E.

InfoFacts – High School and Youth Trends (December 2007) highlights past year and lifetime drug use of 8th-, 10th- and 12th-Graders in the USA.

Predicting Heavy Drug Use, Results of a Longitudinal Study (Feb 2004) describes the movement of adolescents and young adults into and out of drug use and to predict heavy drug use.

Preventing Substance Use Problems Among Young People: A Compendium of Best Practices (2001) is a comprehensive review of best practices for drug prevention. Health Canada. Cat. No. H39-580/2001E.

Risks Associated with Tobacco Use in Youth Aged 15-19 (October 2006) is an analysis drawn from the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).

Youth Drug Use Declines (Dec 2007) is a report released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the US.

For more information on research see the Addiction Research section.

Online Resources – Special Populations and School Drug Abuse

Fact Sheet on LBGT Youth Health Education Needs (October 1995) is a fact sheet on LGBT youth and their issues that schools presently fail to address. Jean Richter.

For more information on special populations see the Special Populations section.

Online Resources – Steroids and School Drug Abuse

Steroid Abuse by School Age Children is a 8-page guide for parents and school officials. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

For more information on anabolic steroids see the Steroids section.

Online Resources – Student Resources and School Drug Abuse

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has created The High School Student’s Guide to Finding Information about Alcohol, Tobacco, Other Drugs & Gambling.

Online Resources – Tobacco and School Drug Abuse

Smoke-Free Schools: 7 Steps to Success (1999) is designed as a resource for schools to help create a coherent and integrated smoking education program and school smoking policy. Robert West, Jonathan Foulds, Health Education Authority, UK. ISBN 0-7521-1607-X.

For more information on tobacco see the Tobacco section.

Online Resources – Violence and School Drug Abuse

Teens, Drugs & Violence (June 2007) is a special report released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Has a comprehensive list of youth violence and drug abuse resources that are directly accessible from the document.

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Kye, the kinesiologist, has been a beauty. He’s really engaged with everyone and doesn’t just set up our outings towards the people that are more athletic, he likes to mix it up like with a half hour hike where not too intense and then follow it up with a sporting activities or something. He’s been great with that.

- Kyle

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