In Greater Lowell, the top three substances of misuse by youth are Vape Products, Alcohol, and Marijuana. Although these are not the only substance of concern for misuse by our youth, they are substances that are legal and found easily in our communities.

Substance Misuse Prevention Tips for Parents

  • Communicate Clearly. Set clear rules about not using alcohol other drugs or misusing prescriptions and be explicit about the dangers of their use.
  • Stay Involved. In high school, adolescents need to gain their sense of independence by making some of their own decisions. You can help them by offering ideas for healthy activities.
  • Watch the Wheels. Creating a “driving contract” reduces the likelihood that your child will drive under the influence or ride with someone who has been using. The contract should outline your expectations that your child will not use alcohol or other drugs and will not ride with someone who has been using alcohol or other drugs. And if they violate the contract, they’ll lose their driving and/or other privileges for a set period of time.
  • Looking for more prevention tips? Click HERE.

Substance Misuse Prevention Tips for Youth

Even when you are confident in your decision not to misuse substances, sometimes it can be tough when it is your friend who is asking if you want to try something with them. If you find yourself in this situation, below are some tips to help you get out:

  • Say NO – This sounds easier than it actually is, but usually if you say no firmly and directly people will quit asking. Do not feel guilty for refusing drugs! If this method seems too hard, try one of the others!
  • Excuse yourself from the situation – give yourself time to think before you make a decision! Go to the bathroom, join another group, or say that you really need to get home for (dinner, curfew, you have to do an errand for someone, etc.).
  • Text a code word – this is one of the best strategies! It can be used to get out of all kinds of uncomfortable situations. Pick a code word with a parent/guardian, family member, or friend ahead of time, and agree that if they ever receive a message with that code word they call you immediately and say that they need you. This will be an easy way to make a quick exit!
  • Blame your parents/guardians – when all else fails it is much easier to blame the adults. Tell your friends your parents are really strict or that they will check on you when you enter the house later. Think about what excuse you might use ahead of time.

Substances to Prevent Youth Misuse



Vape Products

Prescription Medications


Inhalant use is the intentional breathing in of gas and vapors with the goal of getting high.



  • Research suggests that high school athletes are less likely to use steroids if their peers and parents disapprove, suggesting that peers and parents can be strong partners in prevention efforts. Click HERE to learn more about what can be done to prevent steroid misuse.
  • Tips for Teens – Steroids



Free Resources

Looking for free educational resources? Check out the Mass Clearing House and SAMHSA’s Publications and Digital Products.