Substance Use Prevention
Most people don't misuse substances: a large majority of teens and about 1/3 of adults do not use alcohol or other drugs at all. Positive Directions helps the communities we work with to understand who is using which drugs and under what conditions. We can then develop awareness, education, support, and environmental strategies to create positive community norms and help those who are most at risk. Most of our prevention work focuses on preventing substance use by teens, although we also support efforts among young adults and beyond.
Below we share some important facts about today's substance use trends, along with resources for parents. For more information, please contact us, or consider joining your Local Prevention Coalition (LPC) or following us and your LPC on social media.
Info & Resources
As of July 2021, marijuana is now legal for adult use in CT, although it will not be for sale until 2022. Unfortunately, many people do not realize that the drug has been engineered to be much stronger than in past decades, that it is addictive, and that it is particularly risky for teens since it affects brain development. Know the facts!
We've updated our presentation on "The New Marijuana & Today's Youth" to include a few slides about the recent legalization of adult cannabis use in CT and the implications for prevention.
Here's our blog post & press release about celebrating the 4th of July safely right after marijuana possession was legalized for adults over 21.
Check out our Top 10 Facts everyone should know about the new marijuana, read a Q&A, get factsheets and watch videos on the marijuana page of The Norwalk Partnership, our community coalition in Norwalk.
Watch our April 2021 presentation on "The New Marijuana and Today's Youth" to the Westport Prevention Coalition (22 minutes).
Check out the marijuana page at DrugFreeCT.org.
Visit the State of CT's cannabis website following the legalization of retail marijuana.
Learn more at CDC's marijuana website.
Alcohol remains the most used drug among adults and youth, and binge drinking is common, especially on college campuses.
Watch the Feb. 2021 "Power of Parents" presentation on underage drinking by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to our local prevention coalitions (1 hr).
Check out the two-part Q&A on Teen Drinking and Responsible Drinking, and get infographics and handouts, on the alcohol page of The Norwalk Partnership, our prevention coalition in Norwalk.
The NIH's Rethinking Drinking website has great information and resources for those interested in cutting back or quitting drinking.
Here's CDC's 2020 Alcohol-Impaired Driving in CT factsheet.
Learn more at CDC's alcohol website.
In 2019, CT passed the Tobacco 21 law, making all forms of vaping, cigarettes and nicotine delivery systems illegal for anyone under 21. While vaping among teens has decreased, some continue to vape due to being addicted and some have turned to cigarettes instead. Among adults who began using vapes to quit smoking, many have simply transferred their addiction to vaping although some have been successful.
Check out this June 2021 webinar on vaping by PAVE and The Hub.
Watch our Vaping 101 slideshow.
Check out this parents' guide to vaping, developed by a group of prevention coalitions in CT.
Get resources & webinars from Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes (PAVE).
Learn the latest trends, research, and policies from the Truth Initiative.
Learn more at CDC's vaping website.
Most people are now aware that prescription pain management drugs like Percoset are opioids, which are highly addictive. The opioid epidemic in this country includes both prescription opioids and illicit opioids like heroin. Increasingly, the extremely dangerous drug fentanyl is present in heroin as well as in black-market counterfeit drugs. However, other prescription drugs such as benzos (e.g. Xanax) and ADHD drugs (e.g., Ritalin) are also commonly misused: overused, shared or borrowed, or purchased illegally. Benzos are addictive and very hard to quit.
Visit DrugFreeCT's pages on opioids and other drugs.
Preventing Rx drug abuse starts with keeping any drugs at home locked up so no one can access them illicitly. If you have leftover medications, safely dispose of them using a Deterra bag (which we can provide) or bring them to the medication dropbox at your local police department.
Check out the state's Change the Script resources, aimed at decreasing the number and strength of opioid prescriptions.
Positive Directions can provide community members and groups with education on opioids and how to administer Naloxone (Narcan) to reverse an opioid overdose. We can provide Deterra bags for safe disposal of unused medications as well as Narcan kits, through our regional partner organization, The Hub. Contact Margaret.
Families & Educators
Research shows that parents have the greatest influence on their teens' decisions about drug use (even if it doesn't feel that way!) So: Talk early and often with your kids. Be clear that you do not support any use of alcohol and other drugs and what the consequences would be. Make sure your liquor and medications are locked up. Below are a few recommended websites for parents & teachers.
Operation Prevention from the DEA has English & Spanish curriculum for grades 3-12 plus parent resources.
Operation Parent has webinars and other resources for families.
DrugFree.org offers guides on today's drugs, how to talk to your kids about different drugs, what to do if you find out your child has been using substances, and more. English & Spanish.
DrugFreeCT.org provides drug-by-drug information and resources specific to CT.
Check out our Q&A for parents from the parenting page on The Norwalk Partnership website, our prevention coalition in Norwalk.
Government websites with activities, games & resources for educators, parents & kids:
- National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week
Contact Margaret to schedule a Hidden in Plain Sight training, where adults can walk through a mock teenager's bedroom to look for signs of drug use.
Watch Christine Rutigliano's heartbreaking testimony about her son's cannabis addiction. As a result of cannabis use, her son suffers from cannabanoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) and has "thirteen emergency room visits under his belt."