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Most Common Drugs of Abuse by Adolescence


  • - Responsible for 4,300+ adolescent deaths annually across the country.1
  • - If a young person has their first drink by age 12 or younger they are four times more likely to become an alcoholic in adulthood.2
  • - 33% of high school students surveyed reported past 30 day use of alcohol.3

Current trend: young people are smoking alcohol.

Signs of Use

  • - Slurred speech
  • - Poor coordination
  • - Alcohol missing from house
  • - Discovering watered-down bottles of alcohol.

Tip: Restrict Access. Lock your liquor cabinet

More information on how to address alcohol use with your teen.


  • - Marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance by adolescence.4
  • - 1 out of 9 people become addicted to marijuana.5
  • - 98% of heroin addicts surveyed reported beginning their use with marijuana.6

Current trend: Smoking ‘dabs’ (Contains up to 100% THC Level).

Signs of Use

  • - Strong skunky odor.
  • - Blood shot eyes/Loss of focus and Motivation.
  • - Increased appetite/Forgetfulness.

Tip: Youth whose parents communicate with them are 50% less likely to ever use drugs.

More information on how to address marijuana use with your teen.

Prescription Drugs

  • - Includes add medications, sedatives (valium, Xanax) and opioid pain killers.7
  • - Many teens get prescription drugs they misuse from friends and relatives.8
  • - Almost 1 in every 4 teens in America say they have misused or abused a prescription drug.9

Current trend: Youth are beginning their use with prescription pain pills and then switching over to heroin.10

Signs of Use

  • - Change appearance, sleep habits and moods.
  • - Missing medications
  • - Constricted pupils (sign of opiate use).

Tip: Lock up abuseable medications.

How to properly dispose of old medications. More information on how to address prescription drug use with your teen.


  • - A class of drugs that include: heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), and hydrocodone (Vicodin®).11
  • - Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to overdose incidents and deaths.12

Current trend: Heroin and other street drugs are being laced with fentanyl, one of the main causes of overdose deaths that have been taking place across the country.

Signs of Use

  • - Noticeable changes in appearance, sleep habits and moods.
  • - Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • - Constricted pupils.
  • - Missing medication, money or valuables from your home.

Tip: If administered shortly after someone overdoes administering Narcan can reverse the process.

Learn more about Narcan. More information on the opioid epidemic.


  • - Known as a “club drug” because of its popularity in the nightclub scene and music festivals or concerts.13
  • - You can die from MDMA use. It severely hinders your body’s ability to control temperature, especially when it is used in active, hot settings (like dance parties or concerts)14
  • - Research suggests that MDMA may have adverse effects on the developing fetus during pregnancy.15

Current trend: Smoking ‘dabs’ (Contains up to 100% THC Level).Many youth are accessing these drugs at concerts.

Signs of Use

  • - Frequent and inexplicable exhaustion.
  • - Preoccupation with nightclub life.
  • - Heightened depression and anxiety.
  • - Sleep disorder.

Tip: Make sure to educate your child and voice strong concern if they are going to attend a concert.

More information on MDMA/Molly.


  • - Battery-operated devices used to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine along with flavorings and other chemicals.16
  • - A new study yielded strong evidence that vaping increases a teens chance of switching to regular cigarettes by 50%.17

Current trend: Some parents are allowing their teens to Vape nicotine free vape juices thinking that its harmless, not realizing that this greatly increases their chances of eventually using nicotine based tobacco products.

Signs of Use

  • - Fruity/candy scented odors.
  • - Finding unfamiliar hand held gadgets that resemble a pen.
  • - Finding metallic wires and cotton wicks.

Tip: Set a positive example by being tobacco free.

A parent’s guide to address vaping with your teen.

Want to learn more?

Visit these sites and get even more informed on this important topic.

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Parents
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
Parent Drug Guide