Drug and Alcohol Awareness


Issues involving drug and alcohol use are common concerns among the general population, but especially for parents. Although alcohol and drug abuse can often be a complex issue to address, a basic understanding of the problem and where to turn for answers is always a good place to start.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Among Youth

Alcohol and drug abuse by young people is extremely dangerous to themselves, family and friends, and society as a whole. Drug and alcohol use among our youth is directly related to traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, academic failure, unsafe sex and other high risk behaviors. Early use may also lead to a lifetime of dependency.

Know the Facts

  • Approximately 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohols use
  • Alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation
  • Nearly 1/3 or traffic fatalities are alcohol related
  • Almost 50% of all high school seniors have abused a drug of some type
  • More teenagers die from taking prescription drugs than the use of cocaine and heroin combined
  • The average age of a boy who tries alcohol is 11, and the average age of a girl who tries alcohol is 13

Prevention Is Key

Research has shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities and media are effective in reducing drug and alcohol abuse. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence also likes to use the phrase, “talk early, talk often”.

Talking to your children early on is one of the keys to preventing drug and alcohol abuse. Although parents often struggle with having conversations with their children regarding these issues, it is highly encouraged and well worth the time for any parent.

Research has actually shown that parents who talk to their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use are 50% less likely to use these substances than those who do have such conversations.

 Possible Signs

Here are some indicators that someone you care about may be using or abusing drugs or alcohol.  The majority of these signs are geared toward children; however, depending on the situation, they can apply to everyone.  Also, please be mindful that there may be other reasons for people to display any of the following behaviors.  What is important to consider is a person’s pattern of behavior and the number of signs he/she may be exhibiting.  


Is this person becoming more:


  • Irritable
  • Uncooperative
  • Violent
  • Depressed
  • Negative

Is it more difficult to communicate with this person? Does this person refuse to talk about: 

  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Activities with friends
  • Negative effects of alcohol and other drugs

 Does this person show any of these physical symptoms:

  • Increased sensitivity to smell, touch or taste
  • Extra large or small pupils of the eyes
  • Excessive giggling
  • Disorientation
  • Red eyes
  • Excessive coughing
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Severe headaches

Is this person becoming less responsible about:

  • Doing chores
  • Coming home on time
  • Personal cleanliness
  • Money

Has your child recently:

  • Stolen money or property
  • Dropped out of school
  • Insisted the drugs or alcohol you found were not his or hers
  • Come home with strange stains on his/her clothing
  • Changed peer groups
  • Lost interest in school, sports, and other activities
  • Refused to go to school
  • Talked about dropping out of school
  • Started wearing long sleeves
  • Come home smelling like alcohol or smoke
  • Asked to consume liquor in the house
  • Hidden liquor, beer or wine in his/her bedroom

Resources for Support and Assistance

If you would like more information or professional assistance, contact the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse (NCADA) www.ncada-stl.org

Additional Sources of Information

For more on drug and alcohol use, prevention and treatment, visit the following sites for helpful information and resources: