Schools and Substance Abuse – What Are They Teaching?

When we send our children off to school every day we tend to forget many of the things that happen while they are there, aside from learning. These things can include a massive amount of peer pressure, wanting to fit in with a group, managing social structures and finding their place with their friends. Part of all of this can include substances being introduced to your child by classmates or other outside influences. This makes the partnership between schools and substance abuse prevention measures extremely important.

According to the JAMA Network, there are many life-long consequences that can happen if children begin substance abuse too early. They include:

  • The younger a child initiates alcohol and other drug use, the higher the risk for serious health consequences and adult substance abuse.
  • Fatalities, accidental and intentional, that are associated with drug and alcohol use in the adolescent population represent one of the leading preventable causes of death for the 15- to 24-year-old population.
  • Alcohol and other drug use in the adolescent population carries a higher risk for school underachievement, delinquency, teenage pregnancy, and depression.
  • Inadvertent passive drug exposure in infants and toddlers has resulted in multiple medical complications including respiratory illnesses, seizures, altered mental status, and death.

Substance Abuse Education

One of the most important things that schools can teach children about substance abuse is the effect that it could have on them. Many kids in school see the opportunity to get high and have a good time, but in reality, they are doing irreversible damage to their brain, their bodies, and their growth.

According to a publication by, the American Academy of Pediatrics, schools are appropriate settings for drug prevention programs for 3 reasons:

  1. Prevention must focus on children before their beliefs and expectations about substance abuse are established
  2. Schools offer the most systematic way of reaching young people
  3. Schools can promote a broad spectrum of drug-related educational policies

Substance Abuse Prevention

Another way that schools and substance abuse awareness programs work together is by having substance abuse prevention measures. This can include holding strict no-tolerance policies for drug or alcohol abuse, paraphernalia or spirited conversations about enjoying substance abuse.

These no-tolerance policies can also be accompanied by strict consequences, which may even include addiction treatment or therapy. If children see the negative consequences that can come from abusing substances, it may be just the thing to prevent them from trying them in the first place.


Once children start to get older, it is important for schools to have measures in place to screen children for drug or alcohol abuse. If one child is using drugs or alcohol, he or she can possibly pressure others into trying it and the rate of abuse rises. If the person who is using drugs or alcohol in the school is screened, removed, and given help, it could save others from having tried it later.


The CRAFFT method is the most commonly used screening tool for school children between 11 and 21. It can be used to not only identify substance abuse issues but depression and anxiety issues as well. According to SAMHSA, it starts off by asking three questions:

  1. Have you ever drank more than a few sips of alcohol?
  2. Have you ever smoked marijuana?
  3. Have you ever used any other drug to get high?

If the child answers yes to one or all of these, then ask the following questions in part 2:

  1. Have you ever ridden in a CAR driven by someone (including yourself) who
    was “high” or had been using alcohol or drugs?
  2. Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to RELAX, feel better about yourself, or fit
  3. Do you ever use alcohol or drugs while you are by yourself, or ALONE?
  4. Do you ever FORGET things you did while using alcohol or drugs?
  5. Do your FAMILY or FRIENDS ever tell you that you should cut down on your
    drinking or drug use?
  6. Have you ever gotten into TROUBLE while you were using alcohol or drugs?

About Pinelands Recovery Center

Making sure children understand the dangers of substance abuse is extremely important, even if they are at too young of an age to encounter it. Schools and substance abuse education and prevention measures are one of the best ways to get the message across. This awareness at an early age can help shape they view substance abuse for the rest of their lives. Learning about the dangers of substance abuse in school can be just the thing to give them the confidence to say “no” one day in their lives, preventing a possible addiction.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit