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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.[1] 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.[2]

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
Prevention and Treatment
Improve School Climates & Education Outcomes for Students of All Backgrounds

For Teachers

Classroom Tools & Resources
Teacher-Specific Guidance
Resources to provide to Students

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)


[1] SAMHSA, 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (September 2014).

[2] Health Risk Behaviors and Academic Achievement. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBSS-2009), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found at

This document was created through the collaborative efforts of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Adolescent Health; HHS’ Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention; HHS’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), Division of Adolescent and School Health; Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.  This resource guide is offered for use at your discretion and contains links to resources, materials, and information you may find helpful.