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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


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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!

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Alcohol remains the most used drug among adults and youth, and binge drinking is common, especially on college campuses.

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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.

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Prescription Drugs

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.

  • Visit the LiveLOUD website for resources for those with an opioid addiction, or LiveLOUD Families for those affected by a loved one with an opioid use disorder.

  • 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.

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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.

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."

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