The statistics of drug and alcohol use nationally are scary. Sometimes statistics spread out over a whole nation seem hard to grasp, but they really come home when you see how they play out in a single school system.

The Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University looked at drug and alcohol use in the Odessa, Texas area recently. Seven out of 100 students misused a prescription drug in the last 30 days – that is, either they used someone else’s prescription or used it when or in a manner it wasn’t prescribed for them.

But that’s all kids in Odessa up through high school. What about middle school students?

41.8 percent of 8th graders had used alcohol in the last 30 days. Those same 8th graders, about 12 percent of them, had used marijuana.

A report says:  “Opiods included Oxycontin, Percodan, Percocet, Oxycodone, Vicodin, Lortab and Hydrocodone. Nearly 3 percent of seventh and eighth graders at School B reported they’ve abused opioids already. . .”

The report also said that codeine was a hot item in the schools, and police reported that some students were dealers.

What are stats on adolescent substance abuse in your state? HHS.gov provides reliable statistics for each state. 

Want to help protect your child from the temptations of drug use?  The best way is to start conversations with your teen about it. Here is a series of conversation-starters and other resources helpful for that.

How about you? Have you had some effective conversations with your teen about substance abuse?  Can you offer advice to other parents?