Drug Abuse


Any chemical substance, natural or man-made, that-by its chemical natures-alters
biological structure or functioning when administered and absorbed.

Drugs = Psychoactive Substances

  • In the prevention community-drugs are referenced as psychoactive substances
  • A psychoactive substance is one that affects feelings, perceptions, thought processes, and/or behavior
  • All psychoactive substances exert their effects by altering the functioning of the nervous system
  • All medications are psychoactive substances, but not all psychoactive substances are medications

Psychoactive Substances

  • Psychoactive substances alter:
    • Mood
    • Thoughts
    • Sensory perceptions
    • Behavior
  • Psychoactive Substances include:
    • Legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco and certain prescription medications
    • Illegal substances such as hashish/cannabis, heroin, methamphetamine

Classifications of Drugs

How can psychoactive drugs
enter the body?

  • Swallowing
  • Snorting
  • Smoking
  • Vaping
  • Inhaling fumes
  • Injection-intramuscular (IM), intravenous (IV), subcutaneous (SC)
  • Topical
  • Sublingual (under the tongue)

Following a Substance Through the Body

Administration-substance into person
Absorption-substance into bloodstream
Distribution-blood carries substance to brain and body tissues
Substance Action-substance interacts with cells
Termination of effect, metabolism, and/or elimination

Time Between
Metabolism and Elimination

  • Half-life: The amount of time it takes to eliminate half of the original dose of a substance from the body
  • The half-life of a substance affects how long its effects last; then how long it will take to clear the substance from the body

Factors Influencing the
Effects of Drugs

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Dosage
  • Purity and Potency
  • Drug Interactions
  • Tolerance
  • Set and Setting, environment in which the drug is consumed
  • Time taken to consume drug
  • Physical size and muscle content
  • Mood or attitude of the user
  • Expectation of the drug effect

Why do People Use
Psychoactive Substances

  • Influences of other people
  • Popular media
  • Escape and self-medication
  • Boredom
  • Rebellion
  • Instant gratification
  • Lack of confidence
  • Misinformation

2017 National Survey
on Drug Use & Health

  • Approximately 19.7 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD)
    • 14.5 million people had an alcohol use disorder
    • 7.5 million people had an illicit drug use disorder
    • The most common disorder was for marijuana(4.1 million)
    • An estimated 2.1 million people had an opioid use disorder, that includes 1.7 million people with a prescription pain reliever disorder
    • 0.7 million people had a heroin use disorder
  • 30.5 million people aged 12 or older used an illicit drug in the past 30 days
    • About 1 in 9 Americans overall (11.2%)
    • About 1 in 4 young adults aged 18 to 25
  • Among people aged 12 or older
    • 26.0 million were current marijuana users
    • 3.2 million were current misusers of prescription pain relievers
    • Smaller numbers of people were current users of cocaine, hallucinogens, methamphetamine, inhalants, or heroin or were current misusers of prescription tranquilizers, stimulants, or sedatives

What is Drug or Substance Abuse?

The continued use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or the misuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs with negative consequences.  Consequences  may involve problems at work, school, home, or interpersonal relationships.  Consequences may also include trouble with the law and the physical risks of using drugs in dangerous situations.

Progression of Drug Use


  • Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive substance seeking and use, despite harmful consequences that impact not only the affected individual but also the addicted persons’ family and communities
  • It is a disease as it
    • Alters the normal structure or function of a body part, organ or system
    • Has characteristic syndromes, or set of symptoms and signs
    • Can remain with a person through his or her life, similar to other diseases like diabetes or hypertension

Signs of Addiction

  • Signs (can be observed, tested or screened)
    • Red eyes, runny nose
    • Abscess at an injection site
    • Lack of interest in activities
    • Significant mood changes
    • Loss of interest in personal appearance
    • Change in friends
    • Alterations in brain activity as seen through brain imaging
  • Symptoms (something experience by the affected person)
    • Cravings
    • Anxiety when not using
    • Failing in attempts to cease using a drug
    • Doing risky activities when under the influence of the drug
    • Needing more of the drug over time

Understanding Addiction

Health Consequences for Youth

  • Early use of psychoactive substances increase a person’s chances of more serious substance abuse and addiction
  • Early use is also associated with increased vulnerability to physical and social problems related to substance abuse
  • Prevention programming is specifically concerned about youth and geared toward them


Why Doesn’t Everyone
Become Addicted?

  • Vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person; there is no single factor
  • Abuse and addiction depend on both biological and environmental factors
    • Biological factors include genetics, which is estimated to account for between 40% to 60% of a person’s vulnerability to addiction
  • A number of other factors are involved
    • Including parenting styles
    • Family functioning
    • Accessibility to substances
    • Academic achievement
    • Peer and community influence

Preventing Drug and Substance Abuse

Why it is Important for Children
to have Positive Social and Emotional Skills


Social Emotional Learning

  • Social and emotional development is a child’s ability to understand the feelings of others, control his or her own feelings and behaviors, get along with other children, and build relationships with adults.
  • In order for children to develop basic skills they need such as cooperation, following directions, demonstrating self-control and paying attention, they must have social-emotional skills
  • Positive social and emotional skills is important throughout life and can have an impact on how children function at home, school and in the community
  • When young children are faced with social, emotional or behavioral challenges it can impact their chances for school success and healthy relationships
  • A child’s positive relationship with trusting and caring adults is the key to successful emotional and social development



L.E.A.D.’s  Curriculum

  • L.E.A.D. utilizes the Mendez Too Good family of curricula that  puts social and emotional learning to work through fun and interactive lessons, building the self-confidence young people need to make healthy choices and achieve success
  • Lessons build a foundation of skills and knowledge to prepare students to resist problem behaviors
  • Prevention education is a coordinated effort by the school, family, and the community
  • Too Good curriculum is available from Kindergarten through High School
  • When community leaders reinforce positive norms, the message is even stronger!

Reinforcing Positive Norms with
Knowledge of Drug Abuse

  • Children look to adults to set or reinforce normative expectations
  • You make the lessons and concepts come alive!
  • You have an  opportunity to model healthy behavior when you interact with children
  • You can encourage children that drug use is unacceptable
  • Reinforcing Positive Norms with Knowledge of Drug Abuse