School-Based Programs to Stem Substance Abuse

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Updated: Jun 14, 2022
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“Remember the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” and “This is Your Brain on Drugs” television advertisements?” (Alverez, 2018). In the article, “All Hands on Deck,” by Brenda Alverez (2018), she writes about some of the ways people are attempting to bring awareness to the youth when it comes to addiction and drug use. Alverez begins her article by mentioning two commercial ads and how they helped aid in lowering the nations records of fatal accidents in 1998 and how about 68% of people had stated that they have tried or encountered a situation of not letting a friend drive drunk.

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She talks about how effective these tactics were but mentions that for there to be a large impact on the youth and drugs, there is going to be a need for more hands on deck, like schools to tackle this problem.

This article relates to my question: “Should school-based drug programs be changed to more effectively decrease drug use and addiction among youths?”, Alverez presented evidence of statistics from a survey done by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2016 showing numbers of youth that are using, dying or addicted to drugs of various degrees. Also, Alverez talks about how schools have an opportunity to get their hands dirty and really play a roll in educating our youth on drugs and addiction. She states, “With substance abuse starting at early ages, states are looking to public schools to help revamp their drug abuse education programs” (Alverez, 2018). Alverez points out various items that could help aid in decreasing the numbers of youth users and help make an impact in their lives and futures.

First, Alverez dives right in presenting the statistics of recorded deaths in the U.S. She states, “In 2014, the death toll from drug overdoses in the U.S. hit a record number: 47,055” (Alverez, 2018). That 61% of these deaths were from opioid overdose (Alverez, 2018). Alverez presents statistics from 2016 that was collected from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or (SAMHSA) about youth the numbers and percent of the general public starting from ages 12 and up using various drugs, like opioids, illicit drugs, marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol in a series of bullet points.

The first bullet point mentions the statistics of smoking in the U.S. It start by saying that while the use of cigarette smoking had decreased between 2002 to 2016 the estimated number of smokers in the U.S were 51.3 million and about 1 out of every 5 smokers were smoking everyday ages ranging from 12 years old and up (Alverez, 2018). It stated that out of 41.9 million smokers about 70% of them were daily smokers. The other 30% reported to smoke a pack or more every day.

The next bullet point goes into details about alcohol use by youth. It states that underage between the ages of 12 to 20 currently drink. In the survey 4.5 million reported to binge drink (2 out of 5 young adults ages 18-25) and 1.1 million reported to be heavy drinkers (1 out of 10 young adults ages 18-25) (Alverez, 2018). These statistics show that alcoholism does not occur over night and that these young adults started drinking in their younger years and it slowly progressed into something more concerning as they grew older.

The last bullet point talks about illicit drug use with youth. This bullet point states that marijuana is the front runner for drug of choice with youth, and mis use of pain killers is a runner up. After hitting the key points of the statistics, Alverez goes back to the main topic at hand, revamping school health programs to better help children at a younger age better understand the affect of drug use and addiction. She explains that schools across the states had begun to make changes to the schools health programs and were starting to educate children at a younger age, saying that if given the proper tools earlier will give them a better chance to grow and add to that as they grow.

Second, Alverez gives several bullet points on how schools could make an impact on the youth to help prepare them for the future. She starts by pointing out that there is not specific solution to this issue and that there are many factor to take into account in a child’s life that could lead to substance use and abuse, but there are various thing the schools could focus on to help aid them in helping their students. Some of her bullet points talk about the use of different types of teaching resources that have been created to help aid teachers in health education. She states using fact-based research information, not just saying, “don’t do drugs”, but providing evidence that supports the short- and long-term effects of drug use. Another bullet point was having schools connect with the community and outreach programs that can help families and students connect to counseling and treatment programs. She spoke about teaching children on how to set goals, self-management and bystander interventions.

In conclusion, the author did a great job at presenting the facts to support that there is a problem that needs to be changed and revamped. She shows and states that there is no known single answer to solve the drug problem with youth, due to there being various reasons for drug use. Alverez does go into detail with several bullet points on how to revamp or improve on laws and programs already implemented into the school system. Alverez as well as myself believe that with all hands on deck, there can be some dramatic changes within the youth on the perception of drug use and how dramatically it can affect ones futures, hopes and dreams.


  1. Alverez, B. (2018, March 12). All hands on deck: School-based programs to stem substance Abuse. NEA Today. Retrieved from
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School-Based Programs to Stem Substance Abuse. (2022, Apr 17). Retrieved from