Substance Use

According to the CDC, the majority of adults who meet the criteria for having a substance use disorder started using substances during their teen and young adult years.  Common drugs used by teens include: tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, synthetic marijuana, amphetamines (Adderall), prescription painkillers, inhalants, cough medicine, sedatives, tranquilizers, hallucinogens, MDMA (ecstasy), and salvia. Click here too see data on drug use among Hillsborough County high schools students.
The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.  Risk factors include:

  • Biology – genetics, gender, ethnicity, presence of other mental disorders

  • Environment – peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, physical and sexual abuse

  • Young Age – the earlier drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction due to brain development still occurring

Signs of Drug Use

Talking to Your Teen

According to NIDA, if an adolescent starts behaving differently for no apparent reason it could be a sign they are developing a drug-related problem.  Parents may overlook such signs, believing them to be a normal part of puberty.  Other signs include:

  • A change in friends

  • Carelessness with grooming

  • Decline in academic performance

  • Missing classes or skipping school

  • Loss of interest in favorite activities

  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits

  • Deteriorating relationships with family members and friends

Starting the conversation is the first step to getting help.  Try out these conversation starters from SAMHSA:

  • “I’ve been worried about you.  Can we talk? If not, who are you comfortable talking to?”

  • “I see you’re going through something.  How can I best support you?”

  • “I’ve noticed you haven’t seemed like yourself lately.  How can I help?”

  • “I care about you and am here to listen. Do you want to talk about what’s going on?”

What to Do

If you are concerned your child's behaviors, it is important to get appropriate care.  At school, Student Services staff such as guidance counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers are trained to provide mental health intervention services and can help in finding appropriate resources outside of school.  Click here to see a flowchart on how to get help at your child’s school.  You can also contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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