Best Practices

Drug Use Prevention

When adolescents use alcohol, other drugs or substances such as inhalants, tranquilizers or hallucinogens, at best they compromise their ability to make safe choices and good decisions in their daily routines, whether it is relations with the opposite sex, dealings with peers, driving to the store, riding a bicycle or skiing down a hill. At worst, they can die or kill someone else. Substance use cuts across race and ethnicity, geographic and socioeconomic lines, and the cost to society is enormous.


Use of alcohol or other drugs impairs judgment, a skill that adolescents are still developing. Substance abuse is associated with mood changes, memory loss and brain damage, thus increasing the chances of a variety of education-related issues, including poor school performance, truancy, academic failure, dropping out of school and limited expectations for higher education.


The earlier adolescents begin to use illegal drugs and/or abuse otherwise legal substances, the more likely they are to continue using substances and to engage in other risky behaviors. Adolescent drug use contributes to a wide variety of public system costs. National surveys have found adolescent drug use in urban, suburban, mountain and rural areas.


Generally illicit drug use among adolescents rose during the first half of the 1990s, declined during the latter part of the decade and remained steady in 2000. Rates for use of particular drugs (marijuana, amphetamines, heroin, hallucinogens other than LSD, barbiturates and tranquilizers) mirrored this general trend. In the latest national Monitoring the Future study, use of marijuana, the most popular substance, remained statistically unchanged from 2000 to 2001 in each grade for use in the lifetime, past year and past month. (In 2001, 15.4 percent of 8th graders, 32.7 percent of 10th graders, and 37.0 percent of 12th graders reported marijuana use in the past year.)


Background Documents


Evidence-Based Programs


Recommended Strategies


Related Colorado Programs


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