Resources for Help

Parents / Caregivers

Learn more about the prevalence, risks, and dangers of underage drinking, and information that can help you raise children who understand the risks of substance use. The more informed you are, the better you can have an educated conversation with your teen.


Lessons, activities, and drug facts to educate teens about the effects and consequences of drug use.


Know the facts, hear what other teens are saying and their stories

Pharmacist Blog

Let’s talk about your medications, provide counseling tips and other relevant societal alcohol and drug misuse trends.

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Substances of Abuse

Q&A sessions

It’s only natural to want to know what’s best or worst, good or bad. That’s why we love these types of lists! But in the case of drugs and alcohol, there isn’t a “worst” just as there isn’t a “best” drug.
We don’t define drugs as most or least harmful. All drugs have the potential to produce negative health effects or lead to a dangerous situation in the short or long term. Whether a drug causes a serious health issue—like a life-threatening overdose—can depend on how much a person uses, how they consume it, and other factors.
However, some drugs are so potent that a life-threatening overdose can occur the first time a person uses them. For example, the synthetic opioid fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Because fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA (Molly), fentanyl may be ingested unknowingly at unknown quantities, which can lead to overdose.
Injecting potent drugs can be particularly dangerous because this route delivers the compounds more directly to the brain than ingesting or snorting drugs. Injection also carries the risks of injury and infection.
Similarly, some drugs are more frequently associated with addiction and dependence than others. For example, more than half of people who regularly use cigarettes meet the criteria for a tobacco use disorder, while only about 1 in 11 people who regularly use marijuana (cannabis) meet the criteria for a cannabis use disorder. Certain drugs can have a stronger effect on the brain than others. Research has shown that methamphetamine, in particular, may damage cells and structures within the brain that can cause long-term problems with emotion and memory.
Certain physical or mental illnesses, as well as family health history, also influence someone’s chances of developing an addiction or other negative health effects of drug use. Age is an especially important factor when calculating the risks of substance use. Because the brain develops through a person’s mid-twenties, teens and young adults tend to be more vulnerable to negative health effects of many drugs. All of this means certain substances may pose different risks to different people in different situations.
Going by the numbers, determining the deadliest drug also depends on perspective.
In 2019, an estimated 70,630 people died from a drug-involved overdose in the United States. The most common drugs associated with these fatal overdoses were synthetic opioids, including the highly potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.
However, the long-term health effects of cigarette smoking are responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year. That’s about 1,300 deaths every day.
And alcohol is the substance most frequently involved in deadly car crashes. Nearly one person died every 52 minutes from drunk driving crashes in 2019.
To put it simply, what’s the “worst” drug isn’t an easy question to answer, and it’s important to understand the risks of any substance. NIDA supports research to help us understand the effect of drugs on the brain, how to prevent people from starting to use drugs, and how to help them if they have substance use disorder. And NIDA for Teens has resources available to help teens learn about specific substances, mental health, and their growing brains.
For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

Nicotine in any form is highly addictive, and many who start using one form of nicotine transition to another.
NIDA’s 2020 Monitoring the Future survey showed that the number of teens who say they vape nicotine has leveled off but remains high. The number of teens who say they smoked cigarettes in the past month declined significantly since the mid-1990s and is now at or near the lowest it ever has been. Because both smoking and vaping are so addictive, it is helpful to speak with a doctor when trying to quit either. A good strategy is never to start.

For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

Although the medical use of marijuana is legal in many states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not determined that the marijuana plant is safe and effective for treating any disease or condition and has not approved it as a medicine. Although the marijuana plant has not been approved as medicine, the FDA has approved formulations of two of the components of marijuana—THC and CBD—as medicine for specific conditions. THC, which stands for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for marijuana’s “high”, the euphoric and addictive effects of the drug. CBD, or cannabidiol, does not produce a high and has not been shown to lead to addiction.
CBD derived from the marijuana plant has been approved for seizures associated with specific disorders, and laboratory-made THC has been approved to help with appetite in people with AIDS and to treat nausea associated with chemotherapy for people with cancer. Although not available in the United States, a combination of plant-derived THC and CBD has been approved in multiple countries to treat some symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
The National Institutes of Health, including NIDA, continue to support research on the potential medical uses of marijuana and its components.
Currently, however, marijuana products (including CBD) are being marketed as treatments for many conditions for which there is insufficient or no evidence of their safety or effectiveness.

For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

Pregnancy is an important time to maintain or adopt healthy behaviors.
Decades of research show exposure to certain substances can be unsafe for the health of the woman and the baby. Many drugs, including opioids, alcohol, and stimulants, have been associated with harm to the developing fetus. Using or being exposed to some substances can increase the risk of miscarriage and can cause migraines, seizures, or high blood pressure in the mother. A 2013 study found the risk of stillbirth was 2 to 3 times greater in women whose blood tests showed exposure to tobacco and about 2 times greater in women whose blood tests showed exposure to cannabis, stimulants, or prescription pain relievers.2 Pregnant women should refrain from drinking alcohol and talk with their health care provider before using any medicines or drugs.

For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

Asking how to help someone who may have a substance use disorder to
stop taking drugs is one of the most common things we hear from both adults and teens. Fortunately, there are resources to help people affected by a friend or family member’s substance use or substance use disorder.
NIDA’s Step-by-Step Guides have resources and information on how to recognize a substance use disorder and how to find help. NIDA for Teens has additional resources to find help for teens.
Supporting a loved one through a struggle with substance use can be difficult for adults and teens alike. This process can be especially complicated when someone is resistant to getting help. While you may not have control over someone else’s substance use, support is available to cope with how that substance use may affect you.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) operates the National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357). This is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish). SAMHSA has resources available online for families coping with mental and substance use disorders and also provides a confidential online treatment locator.
If someone is experiencing an overdose, mental health crisis, or another emergency, call 9-1-1.

For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

It can be. Research shows that many teens and young adults don’t realize that the flavors they use actually can contain nicotine, an addictive compound found in tobacco. Many vapes also contain propylene glycol, glycerin, chemical flavorings, and other compounds with unknown health effects. As a result, people who vape—even just flavoring—may inhale and ingest potentially harmful chemicals.
Recent studies showed that students who had already used any type of e-cigarette by the time they started 9th grade were more likely than others to start smoking cigarettes and other smokable tobacco products within the next year. And we know that cigarette smoking is a leading cause of cancer and other illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarettes cause more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. This represents about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths, or 1,300 deaths every day.
Other vaping products can also cause harm. In 2020, thousands of people got sick and dozens died from an illness called EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette or vaping-use associated lung injury. Vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing vaping products, is strongly linked to EVALI. When heated and inhaled, vitamin E acetate can damage the lungs.

For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

Many teens who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) take prescription stimulants like Adderall® or Ritalin® to help treat their symptoms. When taken as directed, these medications can be helpful and safe, and have a very low risk for addiction. If your doctor prescribes stimulants, it’s important to follow the instructions and to discuss any concerns about addiction or dependence.
Sometimes people who don’t have ADHD take drugs like Adderall® or Ritalin® in an attempt to get high, to stay awake longer, or to stay focused while studying. According to the Monitoring the Future annual survey on teen drug use, there was a significant increase in the misuse of the ADHD medicine Adderall® among 8th graders from 2015 to 2020.
This can be especially harmful because people often take these medications at a higher dose or through a different route than prescribed.
Misusing ADHD medications can cause headaches, nausea, feeling anxious, and sleeping problems. Misusing prescription stimulants can also lead to addiction. These drugs can also make you feel paranoid, cause your body temperature to get dangerously high, and make your heart beat too fast. While stimulants may help with a lack of focus in some people, they may diminish other skills (like creative thinking).

For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

When teens ask us about bath salts, we understand that they’re probably not referring to Epsom salt for a relaxing time in the tub. They’re talking about synthetic cathinones, which are stimulants made in labs. Bath salts and similar drugs cause extreme wakefulness and elevated heart and breathing rates. Many people seek out these drugs because they are viewed as a cheaper substitute for stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine.
Using bath salts can cause severe intoxication, hallucinations, paranoia, panic attacks, and addiction. Serious health effects including dehydration and kidney problems can also occur. An additional danger of taking these synthetic drugs is that they might contain other substances with their own harmful effects, including life-threatening overdoses.
Bath salts are usually white or brown crystal-like powder that are ingested in several ways, though snorting or injecting these drugs further increases the risk of harmful effects.
Despite their health risks, some of these drugs are sold legally in stores or online in small plastic or foil packages with the words, “Not for human consumption.” In addition to “bath salts,” synthetic cathinones are sometimes labeled as “plant food,” “research chemicals,” or “glass cleaner.”

For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

Xanax® and Percocet® are both brand names of prescription drugs. Both can help treat certain medical conditions when used as directed by a doctor, but they have the potential to be misused. They work in the brain in different ways:
Xanax®, or alprazolam, is a prescription depressant that helps produce a calming effect. Many people experience anxiety disorders and have difficulty sleeping, and prescription depressants can help treat these symptoms.
Percocet® is prescribed to treat severe pain from serious injuries or after surgery. It contains the analgesics (pain relievers) acetaminophen (the same drug as in Tylenol®) and oxycodone, which is an opioid analgesic.
Opioids affect the brain’s reward circuit, causing euphoria (the high), and flooding the brain with the chemical messenger (dopamine) which reinforces the brain to seek out the drug again.
Xanax® and Percocet® can cause severe adverse health effects, including overdose, if taken in large quantities or if taken with certain other drugs.
Large doses of acetaminophen in Percocet® can also cause life-threatening liver damage. If you are prescribed these drugs, carefully follow your clinician’s instructions, and do not share them with others.
For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens (

Every day we make choices that affect our health. People take drugs for a lot of different reasons, like to deal with life’s challenges, to escape from reality, to relieve pain, or to try to fit in—just to name a few.
Some people can be aware of the negative effects of drugs on their health and in their life and still struggle to stop using them. This is because repeated drug use can lead to changes in the brain that make it hard to stop using them, even when people want to stop. When this happens, the person is experiencing a medical problem known as substance use disorder. Addiction is a severe form of substance use disorder.
All addictive drugs cause the brain to release the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is usually released after pleasurable and satisfying activities. Dopamine causes the brain to remember rewards, like food and sex, and reinforces the desire to seek them out again. Repeatedly using a drug floods the brain with more dopamine, which can change the way the brain responds to that drug.
With repeated use, a greater quantity of drug is needed to produce the same pleasurable effect. When the drug is not available, people may experience the negative symptoms of withdrawal, which may include stress, anxiety, depression, and sometimes physical symptoms such as sweating, vomiting and pain. Repeated cycles of drug use and withdrawal can disrupt brain function to the extent that people may have difficultly experiencing pleasure in their daily lives. At this point, many people continue drug use to avoid the lows caused by withdrawal rather than seek the highs they once experienced.
Fortunately, treatment can help people with a substance use disorder counteract these disruptive effects and lead healthier lives. The sooner a person receives treatment, the better the chance that they will recover.

For more information visit Teens: Drug Use and the Brain | NIDA for Teens


Parents Seeking Help For At-risk Kids

A. Counseling/Mentoring Opportunities
i. Cumming Home Ministries, Inc. About CHM | CHM (
Christian-based spiritual mentoring and counseling, life skills training, and resources infused with Godly hope needed for positive long-term life changes.
B. Community involvement programs for adolescents
When teenagers have plenty of free time in their hands, they are at risk of experimenting “new things” such as taking their first alcohol drink, using marijuana, hallucinogens, inhalants of misusing prescription pills. There are tons of educational, athletic, and social activities to get kids involved in and we list a few.

i. 4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT The 4-H Youth Development Program is a volunteer-driven youth development program managed by the University of Maryland Extension. Youth may participate in community- and school-based clubs exploring areas such as Robotics, Animal Science, Outdoor Education, Healthy Living, Camping, Civic Engagement, and Community Service. The program also provides educational outreach programs in a variety of settings. These opportunities are offered through research-based, hands-on activities. Locate a 4-H program in your neighborhood by visiting County Offices and Locations | University of Maryland Extension (
ii. Your local library is a good source for community activities at reduced cost
iii. Johnny’s Ambassadors: An online teen marijuana program to educate parents and teens about the dangers of today’s high-THC marijuana on adolescent brain development, mental illness, and suicide.
ADULTS, go to TEENS, go to
● At the bottom of the homepage, next to “Don’t have an account?” click the link to “Sign up for free.”
● Complete the registration form (all user fields) and click the “Create Account” button.
● You’ll receive an email to validate your email address. Click Confirm Your Account, and you’ll be signed into the TalentLMS site.

C. Treatment options for adolescents with a Substance Use Disorder
REMEMBER, If the situation is potentially life/threatening, get immediate emergency assistance by calling 911, available 24 hours a day.
If you or someone you know are suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) or dial 988. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To find help in your community, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Treatment Referral Line at 1-800 662-HELP (4357) available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
You can also access the Treatment Locator online by visiting Find Treatment | SAMHSA

D. What is Parent CRAFT?

Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) was developed at the University of New Mexico by Robert Meyers, Ph.D. and colleagues.
CRAFT has been shown to be highly successful in getting addicted individuals to enter treatment, and is proven to be more successful than other approaches.

A fast-paced and engaging video-based course that teaches parents the skills they need to meet the challenge of substance abuse.

Who is this course for?

Parent CRAFT will benefit any parent with an adolescent or adult child that is at any stage of using drugs or alcohol.
Parents that just suspect their child may be experimenting, as well as those that know that their child is using substances, will find these skills very useful in heading off more serious issues. The earlier you can intervene the better. With the easily available and commonly used drugs by our children, often experimenting can lead to dangerous behaviors, permanent health damage and even death.

Parent CRAFT is a powerful tool for overcoming treatment resistance, should professional help be required. It will also help you find the best match in help for your child and help you to ensure your child has a successful recovery. The skills learned are very supportive of the leading evidence-based approaches used by therapists.
The course will reduce your stress as a parent, by knowing how to handle the real-life situations you will encounter.

These skills are based on the leading evidence-based approach used for dealing with child and adult issues, called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. The first four sections will teach you skills that will help you in shaping positive behavior with all of your children.
This resource is now free to all Maryland Residents. Click the link for more information!