Preventing and reducing substance use among students will allow them to thrive and reach their full potential.
As a teacher, school nurse, social worker, school administrator, or other school staff member, you have the power to intervene early to prevent and confront substance abuse and foster safe learning environments for students.
Research tells us there is a connection between drug use and poor academic performance. Unfortunately, substance abuse can start at an early age and negatively impact academic achievement and student success. Typically, substance use increases nine-fold between the ages of 12 and 18. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 48 percent of youth earning the grades of D’s and F’s in school had used marijuana in the past month, and 62 percent of youth earning these low grades drank alcohol in the past month.
Evidence-based prevention programs, delivered in school settings, can be a valuable way to reduce drug use among youth and help them succeed academically. The resources included in this guide are available free from the federal government, and can help educators protect students and schools from the impact of illicit substance use and abuse.
For All School Staff
Get Help Now
- This National Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish. 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889
- To find a publicly funded treatment center in your state, visit the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator
Understand Drug Use and Addiction
- Drug Identifier Tool
- How Drugs Alter Brain Development & Affect Teens
- Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction
Prevention and Treatment
- Recognize the warning signs of substance abuse
- Lessons from Prevention Research
- Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
Improve School Climates & Education Outcomes for Students of All Backgrounds
- Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) Technical Assistance Center
- National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Technical Assistance Center
Classroom Tools & Resources
- Lesson plan and activities database
- Health Education Curriculum Analysis tool
- Order free educational brochures & posters
- Operation Prevention: Engaging tools to educate students about the impacts of opioid use
Resources to provide to Students
- Drug Facts for Teens
- Test students’ knowledge about drug abuse and addiction: National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge (PDF)
- Videos and infographics on drug effects
For School Administrators
Fostering School Connectedness
Strategies to foster school connectedness and reduce risky behaviors among students
Key Data and Trends
- Monitoring the Future Study (Trends in the prevalence of various drugs)
- Key findings report from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (National indicators of substance use and mental health among people aged 12 years or older in the U.S)
- CDC trends report on Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2007-2017 (Data on health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults)
- “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, 2016” key findings, full report (What we know about substance misuse, strategies to address it, and related consequences)
 SAMHSA, 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (September 2014).
 Health Risk Behaviors and Academic Achievement. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS-2009), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/alcohol_other_drug.pdf