Alcohol Drug Awareness and Prevention



What if my child asks a question that I can’t answer?

  • Tell your child that you want to be 100% sure of your answer and that you will get back with them.
  • Then research your question on the internet, call your school counselor or school resource officer (SRO), or call one of our ADAPT Counselors.

What if my child asks about my own personal drug use/abuse?
The answer will depend on the maturity of the child and how comfortable you feel about sharing the information.

What if I want to get my child drug tested? Where can I get it done?

  • Drug testing may be conducted by a parent at home. Drug testing kits are available at local pharmacies, grocery stores, and large retail stores such as Target or Walmart.
  • LISD has a voluntary, random drug testing program for students in grades 6-12 which tests for marijuana, opiates, benzodiazepines, amphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy. There is a family or student request portion of the program as well where you or your student may call or email Mary Ann Kluga at 512.570.0315 and request that s/he be included in the next round of drug testing at his/her campus. Both the parent and student must sign the drug test consent form (drug test consent form in Spanish) and return it to Mary Ann Kluga.
  • A drug test may be done at your family physician’s office.
  • If your child is on probation, a drug test may be done by a juvenile probation officer.
  • There are several drug testing labs in the area:
    • Drug Testing of Central Texas, 2000 S. IH-35, Suite #Q-8B, Round Rock 78681. (Located in Skyridge Plaza, directly behind Luby’s Cafeteria facing Old West Dr., next to Leasing Office.) 512-250-9211 (mention you are from Leander ISD and receive the discounted fee of $20)
    • Pro-Med 13831 N. Hwy 183 Austin 78757, 512-250-0424
    • Source-1 Solutions 8500 Shoal Creek Blvd Austin 78757, 512-918-3400

Where may a parent obtain information about drugs/drug slang?

  • is one internet source for drug slang.
  • There is a list of resources at the bottom of the page
  • Contact your child’s campus school resource officer (SRO).
  • Contact your child’s campus ADAPT counselor.

What are some of the warning signs that my child may be using drugs or alcohol? 
Many of these warning signs are normal to adolescence. Don’t assume that they are related to drug use until you have investigated further.

Skipping meals Extremely short visits or calls from friends
Conflicts with family A sudden increase in absences and tardiness at school
Loss of friendships Angry outbursts
Asking for more money Clumsiness, slowness, slurred or confused speech
Having extra money or new items with no explanation Resistance to discipline
Using eye drops Persistent hostility towards family and all authority
A pattern of dishonesty and/or stealing Consistent disregard for rules
Decreased attention span Vandalism, traffic violations or trouble with the police
Poor concentration and memory Legal problems
Loss of motivation and interest in regular activities Trouble at school: increased office referrals or skipping school
Finding drugs or drug paraphernalia Being cited for a DWI, DUI, or MIP
Using alcohol/drugs to “escape” feelings Using alcohol/drugs to get high/drunk
Failed attempts(s) to stop use/abuse Increased drug use


Also look for changes in:

  • Clothing
  • Friends
  • Language
  • Activities
  • Attitude
  • Personality
  • Values
  • Mood
  • Energy level
  • Grades (decline)
  • Physical appearance
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Sleep patterns – sleeping too much or too little
  • Behavior, such as: more secretive, irritable, argumentative, defensive, or isolating/withdrawing from the family
    Source – (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

Where may a Leander ISD parent get help if they suspect their child is using alcohol or drugs?

  • Schedule an appointment with your family physician and discuss what you are seeing and get a drug test done.
  • Contact your child’s campus counselor or assistant principal who can make a referral to ADAPT for individual or group counseling.
  • If you find drugs or drug paraphernalia, you can call your local police.
  • Schedule a substance abuse assessment with Leander ISD’s substance abuse prevention coordinator, Mary Ann Kluga, to ascertain if your child’s drug use is experimentation, use, abuse or dependency. Ms. Kluga may be reached at 512.570.0315. This appointment takes approximately two hours and one parent needs to be in attendance with your child.

What can I do to help keep my child alcohol and drug free?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are six actions which can help you:

Talk early and often with your child.

  • Establish and maintain an open line of communication.
  • Get into the habit of talking with your child every day. This will make it easier for you to have conversations about serious subjects when necessary.
  • Kids need to know your opinion on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs early. We can’t wait until middle school to begin talking about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. That’s why in Leander ISD we start educating youth in kindergarten about the dangers of taking medicines and focus on safety.
Get involved.

  • Talking with your child about his or her activities opens up an opportunity for you to share your interests and values.
  • Young people are much less likely to have mental health and substance abuse problems when they have positive activities to do and when caring adults are involved in their lives.
Be a role model.

  • Think about what you say and how you act in front of your child. Kids pay more attention to what we do than what we say. Your own actions are the most powerful indicator to your children of what is appropriate and acceptable in your family.
  • Do not take part in illegal, unhealthy, or dangerous practices related to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs or your child may believe that these practices are OK no matter what you say.
  • Watch what message you are sending about drug or alcohol use. If you tell your child that he can experiment with drugs or alcohol or it is okay to drink at home, he hears that he can drink. Watching kids drink at home does not change the effects.
Teach kids to choose friends wisely.

  • Teach your child how to form positive relationships.
  • Help your child to understand what qualities to look for in a friend.
Monitor your child’s activities.

  • Know where your children are and get acquainted with their friends.
  • Limit the amount of time your children spend without an adult being present. Unsupervised children have more opportunities to experiment with risky behaviors, including the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs, and they may start substance abuse at earlier ages.
  • Their cell phone is yours. Have contracts. Know passwords. Love them enough to set limits.
Set rules.

  • Make clear, sensible rules for your child and enforce them with consistency and appropriate consequences. Listen to their questions and answer them honestly.
  • Following these rules can help protect your child’s physical safety and mental well-being, which can lower his or her risk for substance abuse problems.
Sources – (Start Talking Before They Start Drinking, A Family Guide, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Mary Ann Kluga, RN, LCDC, LISD ADAPT Coordinator)


Why does Leander ISD teach drug awareness in elementary physical education classes?

  • Drug awareness is part of the TEKS that are mandated by the state of Texas.
  • Lessons may help parents begin the conversation about drugs and alcohol and the family’s expectations regarding alcohol and drug use/abuse.
  • Lessons provide information from knowledgeable sources versus misinformation from peers or skewed information from the media.

Who should I contact if I have questions about the health lessons?

  • Speak with the PE/Health teacher and/or the ADAPT counselor for your child’s campus.
  • You are welcome to make an appointment with the school or ADAPT counselor to view the video.
  • On the ADAPT website, there are questions to ask your child to follow up on the classroom lesson.

Why do fifth graders need to know about marijuana and inhalants?

Students are likely to have their first encounter with marijuana and inhalants in middle school, so we want them to be prepared ahead of time with accurate information and refusal skills.

What is the relationship between drugs and adolescence?

Substance use occurs almost exclusively in a social context during early adolescence and typically involves substances that are readily available (alcohol, tobacco, inhalants, and pills: what’s in your medicine chest?) (Griffin and Botvin)
Social influences are central and powerful factors that promote experimentation or initiation of use. (Griffin and Botvin)
Adolescence is a time of transition where new roles and behaviors are tried out as part of the normal developmental process. Attempting to answer the question: Who am I? This trying on of different identities can be a risk factor if the friends the adolescent is moving toward are involved in risky or destructive behavior. (National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction)
Transition times increase stress which can increase substance use/abuse. Stress is a causal agent with addictions. (National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction)
Developmentally teens are separating from their parents, gaining acceptance and popularity with peers, developing a sense of identity, autonomy, independence, and maturity, seeking fun and adventure, and/or rebelling against authority. Unfortunately, from the adolescent’s point of view, engaging in alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use may be seen as a functional way of achieving independence, autonomy, maturity, or popularity. (National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction)


Why is alcohol or drug use harmful to youth?

An adolescent’s brain is going through much growth and development. The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies. It weighs about 3 pounds and is at the center of all human activity. The prefrontal cortex is not fully developed and won’t be until their mid-twenties.
The prefrontal cortex is responsible for our executive functioning activities including, but limited to: planning; decision making; problem solving; logical, critical, and rational thinking; judgment; insight; organization and goal setting. Therefore, when we ask teens: “what were you thinking?” and they say: “I wasn’t”, they are correct!!
Youth can become addicted to drugs and alcohol faster than adults due to the brain’s vulnerability to drugs and alcohol during this rapid growth period. Addiction can occur with the first use up to two years. Most parents don’t know that their child is using for two years.
Addictions are brain diseases and pleasure disorders. Drugs interfere with the brain’s communication system and directly or indirectly target the reward system (the limbic system). Teen brains are hardwired for experimentation and risk taking; therefore, the adolescent brain seeks adrenaline rushes which are produced during risk taking behaviors, such as driving fast, jumping off cliffs, taking drugs, etc.
As with any chronic illness (think diabetes or hypertension), there is denial. You will hear teens say: “I am not hurting anyone…It’s natural…I can quit any time (ah but you start up again!)…Drugs don’t have anything to do with my grades, concentration, memory, etc., in fact, I think better and can focus better with drugs…Everybody is doing it…I like it…it feels good…I don’t have to think about my problems…it’s fun…”
When drugs are taken, dopamine is flooded into the synapse (the space between two nerve cells) and produces the effect of feeling good/euphoria which teaches the drug user to repeat the behavior. Dopamine is present in the parts of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure.
Some drugs of abuse can release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine than a natural reward would and the effects can last longer than a natural “high.” The brain remembers this and the powerful effects make the user want to use again and again…sometimes to his own demise.
The brain adjusts to these dopamine surges by either producing less dopamine or decreasing the number of receptors that can send and receive messages which results in the “crash” and the resultant feelings of flatness, depression, and inability to enjoy activities.
Tolerance occurs where the user needs more to produce an effect and as the addiction cycle continues, the person ends up using just to attempt to feel “normal” and can’t get to euphoria anymore.
Source – (National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction and Mary Ann Kluga, RN, LCDC, LISD ADAPT Coordinator)


What are some statistics or facts regarding youth and alcohol and drug use/abuse?

The number one reason youth use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is for fun. The number two reason is for stress. (CASA: The National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University; David Sack, M.D.)
Nine out of ten people who are addicted began to smoke, drink and/or use other drugs before the age of 18 and the earlier teens use any substance, the greater the risk of addiction. (CASA: The National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)
The earlier teens use any substance, the greater the risk of addiction. (CASA: The National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University)
Nearly one in ten high school seniors report non-medical use of the prescription pain reliever Vicodin (hydrocodone). (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
The United States makes up 4.6% of the world’s population and consumes 80% of its opioids and 99% of the world’s Vicodin (hydrocodone). (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Studies reveal that people who reach 21 years old without engaging in destructive behaviors are more likely to never do so. (
Research shows that parents are MORE IMPORTANT than the school environment in preventing use of alcohol and marijuana. (Join Together – December 6, 2012/Journal of Drug Issues)
One in every twelve adults is suffering from an alcohol abuse or dependency issue. (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, Inc.)
Nicotine is still the second most widely used drug in the world. Caffeine is number one. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Over 1200 people die each day because of tobacco use. That is 1 out of every 5 deaths in the US. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Many believe that since tobacco is legal, that it is ok. WRONG! It is still a gateway (a drug which leads to other drug use) drug and has many short and long term effects and consequences.
Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide. (American Lung Association and National Institute on Drug Abuse)
10 hits of nicotine go to the brain with each cigarette which reinforces the desire for more nicotine. Youth can become addicted after just smoking 100 cigarettes! (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Tobacco smoke affects the whole body. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Nicotine is more addictive than heroin or cocaine. Would anyone take 10 hits of cocaine, meth, or heroin in a row? Not if s/he wants to be alive. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Drug use decreases when drugs are perceived as harmful. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)


What are some other ideas to help keep my child alcohol and drug free?

Address underlying issues of stress, depression, anger, anxiety, etc.
Help your child with stress management strategies. What do you do to relieve stress? Physical activity, exercise, have fun, laugh, watch funny movies, yoga, meditation, go for a walk, talk to a friend, treat yourself to something nice, etc.
If there is a family history of alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use, abuse, or dependency, talk to your child about this risk factor. If anyone in your family’s blood line had a problem with drugs or alcohol, your child is 25% more likely to have trouble as well.
Spend quality time together.
Adolescence is a big time of change; therefore, it may be difficult to assess what is normal and what is not. Being actively involved in their lives, you will be better able to assess for changes. If something appears off, ask about it.
Sometimes we just don’t know what to do or what to say, so we ignore the signs of teen substance use. Sometimes the signs are not so obvious either or could be normal teenage ups and downs. Therefore, watch for changes in hygiene, school grades, participation, and extracurricular activities, moodiness, new friends who you don’t know, increase or decrease in energy, sleep, or eating. (See warning signs)
Watch closely during times of transition: such as, from Elementary School to Middle School, from Middle School to High School, from High School to College, divorce, death, changing schools, or the break-up of a relationship – these are all difficult times.
Educate your child on the possible consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use, such as, family and school problems, poor academic performance, truancy, criminal behavior and subsequent trouble with the police from misdemeanor to felony citations and then possible involvement with the juvenile justice system (probation), and physical and mental health issues.
Have a drug test on the counter and don’t even talk about it. “Have fun tonight, sure hope I don’t need to use this later.” 🙂
Every day an average of 2000 kids misuse prescription drugs for the first time!! With the majority of medications coming from home or a friend’s home! Kids say pills are easier to get than beer. So, lock up medications. Know how many are in each bottle. (David Sack, M.D.)
If you are concerned or questioning if there is a problem, be proactive and get help. LISD offers free substance abuse assessments to ascertain if your child’s use is experimentation, recreational use, abuse or dependency. Or if you have questions, contact Mary Ann Kluga, RN, LCDC, ADAPT Coordinator at 512-570-0315.


Can you recommend some resources and references?

Griffin, K. and Botvin, G: Evidence-Based Interventions for Preventing Substance Use Disorders in Adolescents, July 2010 (The National Center on Addictions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University) National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: Brochures: The Science of Addiction and Tobacco Addiction Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Brochure: Start Talking Before They Start Drinking, A Family Guide.

Updated on August 15, 2018

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