The life of a youth is one that can be filled with joy and happiness as well as challenges and struggles. Today’s youth is faced with many risks, including alcohol, tobacco and drug use and the negative consequences associated with those risks. Providing our youth with the tools to prepare them for and respond to these risks is one way to help them make informed decisions about substance use.


Yes. Alcohol and illicit drug use during the pre-teen and teen years can have an impact on healthy adolescent development. Brain development during the pre-teen and teen years is a vulnerable time period. The presence of alcohol and other drugs can interfere in healthy brain development.

While not all teens who use alcohol and drugs develop into an addiction, even experimenting can cause health problems. Alcohol and drug use can lead to other unhealthy/risky behaviors including impaired driving, unsafe sexual activity, elevated risks for bodily injury and even overdose and death.

No. The majority of Frederick County youth do not report alcohol or drug use in the past 30 days according to the 2018 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey. While this is good news, we must continue to educate our youth and ourselves about substance use and healthy living. For youth who report use in the past 30 days, we should continue to educate them on effective ways to prevent future use.

According to the 2018 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Frederick County youth report the following past 30 days use:

  • Middle School
    • 7.5% reported currently using tobacco in any form, including an electronic vapor product
    • 17.8% reported ever using an electronic vapor product
    • 6.8% reported ever using prescription medications without a prescription
    • 3.4% reported currently using marijuana
    • 6.2% reported currently using alcohol
  • High School
    • 33.7% reported currently using tobacco in any form, including an electronic vapor product
    • 44.3% reported ever using an electronic vapor product
    • 13.1% reported ever using prescription medication without a prescription
    • 19.6% reported currently using marijuana
    • 30.9% reported currently using alcohol
    • 17.6% reported currently binge drinking
    • 14.2% reported riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol
    • 5.4% reported driving when drinking alcohol

You play a vital role in the life of a child. Children and teens look to adults for many basic things from food to shelter to guidance. Here are a few things you can do to support our youth:

  • Communication is key. Talk early and talk often about healthy lifestyle choices, life goals and family expectations.
  • Teach children how to say no to alcohol and drugs. Practice with them what to say, how to say it, when to say it and what to do after they say it.
  • Catch them doing something good. Provide positive feedback when healthy decisions and choices are made.
  • Set clear rules along with consequences and enforce them both fairly. Be consistent.
  • Provide a healthy environment. Keep alcohol, medications and other potential harmful substances secured and closely monitored.
  • Lead by example. Provide youth with examples of healthy living and healthy decision-making.
  • Stay informed. Check out the Resources tab and Stay In The Know!