Parents graphic A Parent’s Influence

Parents are the earliest and one of the strongest influencers in a youth’s life. By staying involved in your children’s lives, you play a critical role in preventing substance abuse and helping to stop substance use if it has already begun. Talking with children from an early age about the dangers and effects of substance use will have a strong impact on molding their future behaviors and beliefs.

It’s important that you as parents maintain an active interest in your child’s daily life. Not only will this allow you to more easily notice when something is off, but it will also build a foundation of trust so your kids will feel comfortable talking to you about serious topics like substance use. Creating a healthy, supportive home environment that is low-stress will reduce the chances your children will be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol.

Learn how increased parent involvement helped reduce teen alcohol consumption by 20%

Our schools care about your children.

If you have a child that is struggling, and need resources, contact:

Oscar Herrera, Student Assistant Professional 509-932-4565 ext. 3043

Or you can contact the schools directly:

Wahluke Junior High: 932-4455 ext 3588

Wahluke High School: 932-4477 ext 3486

If you are concerned about your child or would like to learn about additional community resources, contact:

Elvia Greisen,
Family Connection Coordinator/Counselor
509 932-4565 ext.3044

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Role model Be a Role Model

Being a role model for your children means more than just not using substances yourself. It requires choosing to live a healthy lifestyle and engaging in activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol. Showing your children wholesome alternatives to substance use will guide them to make better choices.

Your children look up to you and watch your behavior much more than you might think. So be the type of person you want your child to be.

Talk with Your Teen Talk with teen

It can be difficult to approach your teen about difficult issues like substance abuse. Building a foundation of trust with your teen and offering to listen supportively without judgment can help make it easier to have these discussions. Your teen needs to know that they can come to you to ask for help and be honest about what’s happening in their life.

You might not feel comfortable sharing your own life experiences with your teen, but this can be a healthy way to show your teen that you’ve experienced pressures in your life as well. Even if you previously used substances, that can be a great starting point to opening up a discussion with your child.

Facts The Facts


Drinking alcohol has negative short-term and long-term impacts on teens.

Short-term consequences of being intoxicated include:

  • Impaired decision-making, which can lead to unsafe choices, aggressive or violent behavior, or drunk driving
  • Reduced awareness of potential danger and the appropriateness or safety of their behavior
  • Greater risk of injury from falls, vehicle crashes, or risky behavior

Research suggests the following long-term effects of frequent alcohol consumption in teens:

  • Alcohol interferes with normal brain development
  • Teens who drink may have difficulty learning and processing information
  • Drinking at a young age can increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder later in life

The Impact Alcohol Has on Youth

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, prolonged and excessive drinking can have a lasting impact on nearly every part of a youth’s life.

Alcohol Affects…


The Body

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased likelihood of esophageal, liver, and breast cancers
  • Weakened immune system
  • Fibrosis
  • Steatosis or fatty liver

The Brain

  • Lapses in memory or memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired decision making
  • Inability to think abstractly
  • Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders


  • Aggressive outbursts
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Unhealthy codependency
  • Loss of trust and respect


  • Decreased motivation to achieve
  • Unwillingness to ask for help
  • Withdrawal from day-to-day activities


Some teens might feel cannabis is not harmful. However, the brain does not reach full maturity until the early or mid-twenties. So for bodies and brains still in development, cannabis can cause serious harm to one’s physical, emotional, mental, and interpersonal growth.

According to the CDC and The National Institute on Drug Abuse, prolonged and excessive cannabis use in youth effects…


Physical Health

  • Impaired coordination
  • Increased chances of lung cancer and heart attack
  • Respiratory issues including difficulty breathing

Emotional & Mental Health

  • Lapses in memory or memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Potential abnormal brain shape and structure volume
  • Higher likelihood of mental health disorders


  • Loss of connection and trust
  • Loss of motivation to create friendships
  • Absence from day-to-day activities and life
  • Decreased motivation to achieve goals

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug misuse can have life-threatening consequences, including death by overdose. Because there is a wide range of prescription drugs and how they impact the body, there are multiple negative impacts they can have on youth.

Some of the more common consequences include…

  • Greater risk-taking behavior
  • Poor decision making
  • Mood swings
  • Shifting sleep and eating habits
  • Withdrawal from friends and family

Warning Signs Warning signs

Teens who are abusing drugs or alcohol may exhibit some of the following changes. Remember to stay actively involved in your teen’s life, so you notice signs such as:

  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Hanging out with a new group of friends
  • Acting aggressive, angry, or depressed
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Engaging in risky behavior or breaking rules
  • Sudden weight loss, frequent nosebleeds, red or watery eyes, or shakes and tremors